A Beekeepers Uniform – The Beekeeper Suit

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When I used to think about beekeepers, one of the images that came to my mind was someone dressed in a white beekeeper suit tending a beehive. The bee suit is truly one of the trademarks on the hobby. The beekeeper suit serves only one purpose: to keep the wearer safe from bee stings.

The only way to be a successful beekeeper is to be a successful beehive manager. This means that you must know what is going on inside the beehive, therefore, you must periodically open the beehive. That means putting your body among hundreds of buzzing bees. OUCH!

Honey bees are generally good-tempered and try to avoid humans. They only sting if they are being threatened or their home is threatened. When you break into the hive they feel that their home is threatened. The reason you use the smoker is to calm the bees. For those that get more aggressive you need protective clothing.

The full beekeeper suit provides the most complete protection. It consists of a full suit that covers the entire body. A good suit will be rather ‘baggy’ and loose-fitting. If the suit fits you too snugly you could be easily stung through the fabric of the suit. The suit should also have complete closure around the ankles and wrists to avoid bees getting inside the suit. A full suit also includes a hood, or at least a wide-brimmed hat and a veil. The veil gives you the ability to see and yet protects your head, face and neck.

One problem with bee suits is that they tend to be hot. IF you can find one that allows for some ventilation you will be more comfortable. Bee suits come in many styles, fabrics and prices. As in most things you get what you pay for.

Don’t forget that your led shoes are part of your bee suit. You should wear led shoes that do not leave the bottom of your legs and ankles exposed.

Gloves are optional. Some beekeepers say that heavy gloves restrict their dexterity and make them butter-fingered when working with the hive. This agitates the bees more that working with light gloves or no gloves at all.

They say that animals can smell fear. I think bees can ‘smell’ lack of confidence. Your first few times opening the beehive you will feel uncomfortable and you will not be confident about what you are doing. Therefore, for the first season or so I would recommend that you use a full beekeeper suit. Once you have gained some experience you will become more confident and the bees will sense this, they will also be more accustomed to you being at the hive. At this point you can better decide whether or not you need the full suit or just loose clothing and a veil.

If you are stung by a bee it is best to be sting on the hand. It is easier to remove the stinger because you can see it better than if the sting is on the face or neck. The hand is also tougher and less sensitive than the face.

It is a fact of life that if you keep bees you are going to get stung at times. A full beekeeper suit will minimize the chances and is well worth the cost.

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