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Beekeeping suit vs. jacket: what’s right for me?

When we decide to become beekeepers, one of the first purchases we all need to make is buying bee suits to protect ourselves. They are certainly worth every penny, and we receive confidence and peace of mind by reducing the number of stings we get!

Your choice between a beekeeping suit and jacket depends on your bees’ preference, climate, and temperament. The modern beekeeping suit is designed to prevent bees from having unrestricted access to your skin, but you require additional clothing underneath to prevent a bee’s stinger from reaching you.

Are you having a difficult time deciding whether you need a beekeeping suit or a jacket? There are tons of information that will aid you in making the wisest choice and maybe even change your mind!

What Is The Difference?

THE JACKET

If you want to be a stylish beekeeper, beekeeping gear is not the way to go! If you’re going to have beehives, style goes out of the window. However, I think we look extra dashing in our bee jackets with round hats and veils!

You have a few choices when it comes down to your permanent beekeeping gear. It is advised that all your bee gear zips together, so a suit and hood or jacket combination would be ideal.

The thing with a jacket is that it simply is a bit easier to put on than a full beekeeping suit. A jacket that zips up is much easier to get in and out of than the ones that pull over your head. If you buy a size or two larger than you usually wear, it will benefit you because it would fit over a heavy jacket during the colder months.

A beekeeping jacket is another crucial part of a beekeeper’s protection against bee stings. The jacket usually looks like a parka jacket or a firefighter jacket, but designs can vary. The best beekeeping jacket is when a hat and a veil can be fastened together by using a zipper. This is practical, as you can easily unzip the hat and veil so that it can drop behind your head but still remain attached to your jacket!

Beekeeping jackets are designed using various materials. Some of the materials include aerated, polycotton, and other ventilated materials. The aerated bee jackets are produced using polycotton fabric. Then foam panels and mesh have been added to the chest and back area to provide additional airflow.

The polycotton bee jackets are made with 50/50 polyester and cotton. These materials have been woven together using particular interlocking patterns that make it impossible for bee stings to penetrate your skin.

On the other hand, ventilated bee jackets do come with a 3D layer design and have 100% synthetic fabric on the outer side of the jacket. They also consist of a foam core that still provides an air gap between the two different layers of fabric. This specific air gap is much thicker and longer than the length of a bee’s stinger. This means it will fully protect you!

THE BEEKEEPING SUIT

A full bee suit has some key advantages. It gives you a one-piece coverage while being able to keep your regular clothes clean!

Beekeeping suits are evidently the most thorough way to protect yourself. Full body bee suits are very popular amongst seasoned beekeepers and do a great job of protecting the majority of your body.

With the full-body beekeeping suits, it is vital that you will have to ensure that there are no gaps at your feet or hands, so socks and boots, and gloves will definitely do the trick.

A good quality bee suit has a number of features to help you as the beekeeper, including thumb ties to help insert into gloves, a good zipper on the front, and a veil. It will also be highly beneficial if the suit contains elasticated ankles to ensure a snug fit around your socks or boots.

Most people ask whether a beekeeping suit is beneficial or not if they already own a beekeeping jacket. This is because of factors like heat and comfortability, as a beekeeping suit could get toasty in the warmer months of the year.

Using any protective clothing will raise a sweat rather quickly. If you tend to rush your hive inspections because you are too hot, you will waste several opportunities. You should never rush a hive inspection- use your time wisely and efficiently, never cut it short because you are uncomfortable!

To help with this common problem, beekeeping clothing is available with sufficient ventilated materials. When I first thought about this, it seems pretty remarkable that any kind of material that offers ventilation can also protect you from bee stings. This is where the triply-ply materials do just this!

These materials are based on the principle that bee stingers are larger than air molecules. Ventilated bee suits are available, and the difference in cost, compared to regular protective clothing like jackets, is not that significant, especially when you keep in mind the many hours you will end up wearing the clothing as a beekeeper.

Additional Protective Gear

The Hat And Veil

It can be said that the beekeeper hat is used to protect the head, while the beekeeping veil is used to protect the neck and face. Both the neck and face are crucial and delicate parts of the body that simply need to be well protected from any possible bee attack. It can cause severe swelling and pain when beekeepers get attacked in these areas and could be dangerous.

It doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced beekeeper or a beginner. All of us know that the most critical areas to protect are our heads. The beekeeper hat just doesn’t provide us with the needed protection, and the hat alone isn’t enough. It is for this reason that a beekeeping hat should always be worn with a beekeeping veil.

Usually, the hat is covered by the veil on the outside to become one piece. Even though the hat and the veil can become separate, it sounds rather impractical, but it is more of a personal preference. There is one advantage with this hat and veil structure: they can easily fasten to the beekeeper’s suit, making it impossible for any bee to enter.

Gloves

Beekeeping gloves are an accessory that is usually worn with the beekeeping suit as they aid as protection for the beekeeper’s hands. Bees are usually very easily provoked when there is honey in their hives, so beekeepers who don’t wear gloves should be highly cautious.

It is advised to wear the correct protective gloves along with the suit for maximum protection. However, some beekeepers still prefer not to use gloves out of the fear of squashing some of their bees by accident. The problem with this is that you can easily be stung and suffer some painful swelling.

 If you are allergic to bee stings, it would never, ever be a smart idea to even just inspect your beehives without proper protection, including gloves.

Boots

The beekeeper boots are the final accessory that will benefit you while wearing your beekeeping suit. when a beekeeper harvests honey, it is pretty common that some bees will drop to the ground and crawl inside their clothes and sting. This is where the beekeeper boots come in handy.

These boots will ensure that no bees can crawl up into your trousers and unleash their harshest stings! The boots should always be worn with the rest of the accessories that make up the suit.

 When you find yourself shopping or looking around for beekeeper boots, it is good to choose those produced with quality rubber because it is incredibly durable and will last for a much longer time.

WARNING: When Your Bee Suit Will Not Work

Imagine you spent your money on a bee suit of excellent quality- but it seems that it isn’t completely effective. You might not be entirely up to date with how to wear, wash or treat your bee suit correctly, and it could wind up being a massive waste of money if you do not know precisely how to make your bee suit effective.

There are three times when your bee suit will not work. I’m not talking about killer bees attacking you, but I’m talking about stings during normal beekeeping activities. Let’s take a closer look at this list I have conducted:

  1. When you don’t wear your suit.

Yes, this is an apparent reason why your beekeeping suit will not work. If you do not wear your suit, it will not work.

All jokes aside, it is easy to make excuses as to why you don’t always have to wear your beekeeping suit. Maybe it takes too long to gear up compared to the activity you perform in your hive, or maybe it’s too hot.

You should know that bee gear is a fundamental part of beekeeping safety for both you and your stinger friends. Take the time to suit up, and you will reap the benefits.

  • When you put on your gear but don’t take the time to ensure that it’s fully zipped up.

It is pretty common that beekeepers have other jobs, such as myself. It doesn’t matter if you only do beekeeping as a hobby or as a full-time job; you should always be calm, relaxed, and take your time to do things properly.

Not properly zipping up could lead to bees getting inside of your suit, veil, shirt, or pants, and I think we can all agree that it could wind up to be very unfortunate!

  • You are not washing your gear correctly.

If a bee ever stings your suit or even just gets honey on it, you will be a magnet for other bees. The sting will have all the girls in defense mode, and the honey on your suit will have bees flocking towards you.

This is why it is essential to wash your suit and gear correctly; otherwise, you will get stung. You could even use the bee smoker on yourself or retire for a while to do a quick wash of the stung area or the area full of honey.

Conclusion

If you’re planning on getting started in beekeeping, you should always make sure that you are wearing the proper protective gear to keep you safe from any potential bee attacks. Bee stings don’t only hurt, but bees can be dangerous insects in their hive numbers. This is only one reason why a beekeeper should always take precautions to ensure their safety.

You will find what works best for you, and you’ll speed up the process if you can try on hats, veils, bee suits, and gloves before you buy them. If you have a local beekeeping supplier, you would certainly be able to look and touch before you buy. Physically having to go out and buy gear could be time-consuming, but it is the best option at the end of the day.

The best available protection from bees is the beekeeper suit, complete with all its accessories such as gloves, a hat, a veil, a beekeeping jacket, and boots! Whatever option you choose, be sure that you will have some freedom to move around, so to choose one size up would benefit you. And if you think that beekeeping is a fashion contest, you are in the wrong hobby!

Jaco Stander

My name is Jaco Stander. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a registered beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development in South Africa. Registration number WC808. I live on a small holding where I keep my 16 beehives. Taking care of bees is a very rewarding feeling, contributing to keep our bee colonies growing and thriving, and as a bonus, enjoying that sweet pure raw honey!

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