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Dressing Right for Beekeeping

beekeeper suitThe secret to an enjoyable beekeeping experience is to dress properly to avoid bee stings. As a new beekeeper you should expect to be stung sometimes, and this is actually a good thing. After a few stings most people develop an immunity to stings, so they no longer swell up, eventually stings become no big deal at all.

But in the beginning you'll have enough to think about without the distraction of worrying about being stung, so it's best to take care in how you are dressed when you open a beehive. Most of the time when you work bees, they are not interested in stinging you. After all, they are committing suicide when they sting, so they don't want to give their lives unless they feel the hive is threatened. But if you make a mistake by dropping something, or during some unfavorable weather conditions, they may suddenly show their aggressive side.

The basic principle is that all openings in your clothing need to be sealed up, and bee veil is worn to protect your head. White coveralls work well, and are sold at beekeeping supply stores if you don't already have a pair. White or light colors are important because bees can be stimulated to sting after their hive is disturbed, and dark materials can attract them to you, as if you were a bear breaking in to their home. Also smooth materials such as nylon attract less attention and are harder for bees to grasp onto than rough material for example fleece or wool.

Angry bees are experts at finding any opening in you're outfit, so you must attend to details. The cuffs of your pants must not be left open. They can be tucked into your boots, or be secured around the outside with the boot laces. High top boots are preferred to avoid exposing your ankles. Duct tape can also be used to seal your cuffs and around your wrists.

An experienced beekeeper often works without gloves, but a beginner should start with gloves. Since your hands are closest to the bees when you are inspecting the honeycomb frames, they are most frequently the target of annoyed bees. The standard beekeeping gloves have smooth leather at the fingers, with a long fabric sleeve up to the elbows. An alternative is rubber dishwashing gloves which are pulled up over the cuffs of the coveralls. Even latex surgical gloves are adequate.

Finally, a bee veil is essential to keep distracting bees from around your face. Under good conditions, sometimes a veil is unnecessary, but I recommend that you always wear one, to protect your eyes. Always make sure that the bottom of the veil extends down around your collar so there is no uncovered skin. Some bee suits have the veil zippered to the coveralls, this makes for a very secure outfit.

A good bee suit is an investment in your success as a beekeeper. Many beginners have given up beekeeping with one unpleasant stinging incident. As you gain more experience, you will learn to read the mood of the bees and dress appropriately for the conditions. But always come to the bee yard prepared to protect yourself.

Here are some links to where you can buy your first bee suit

Dadant & Sons

Walter T Kelley

BJ Sherriff

Bee Suits Cheap

 

 

Wildflower Meadows VSH bees

 

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