Understanding the Beekeeping Suit
Article by Michael V. Taylor
Hollywood has certainly done a lot to put the fear of bees in us. That is, the killer bee horror flicks in recent times. But for many of us, the thought of our first sting does enough to send the chills. If you’ve picked up beekeeping as a hobby or commercial thing, you might as well have put yourself in the mouth of a volcano. Luckily, beekeeping suits have seen some major developments and improvements over the years are not as cumbersome as they used to be.
Protective clothing should take an uncompromising top spot in your beekeeping checklist. In fact, a complete suit should just about be it as far as protection is concerned. But let us not assume everything and put a little time to understanding the beekeeping suit.
Fact 1: the bees will attack you if you approach the hive or try to interfere with them. So, this is not some kind of yabber designed to urge you to get some cool space-suit-type of costume as soon as you take up apiculture.
Fact 2: a bee sting is very (very) painful and can cause allergic reactions in some people. If you were to be attacked, multiply this by say … the approximate number of bees in the colony.With this in mind, let us take to understanding the beekeeping suit.
A beekeeping suit in the basic of descriptions is an overall attached to a dome-shaped hood or hat-shaped hood that is firmly attached and covering the head and neck. A veil is usually attached It is sealed up altogether to keep away the bee stings though extra items like the gloves and boots are required to complete the protection. Forget your first interview suit; this one is literally the determinant of your profession (or hobby). You got to don it if you want to be beekeeping for much longer.
The beekeeping suits these days have managed to keep a good balance between being made of light enough fabric that will not impede maneuverability, and tough enough to keep off the stings. Initially they would be common in canvas-like material that made them somewhat uptight. But now combinations of polyester and cotton materials have helped to achieve this balance, making them even easier to be cleaned. Light colored fabrics, and especially white, are preferred and the best as they act as camouflage. Dark colors remind the bees of their enemies and predators like the raccoons and this will certainly instigate a defensive attack.The veil helps to keep the bees from getting any closer to the hood especially around your face where the slightest of exposures can allow for a sting. It is always advisable to get a suit that has both the veil and hood pre-attached for optimal protection of the head region.
Lastly, you need to wash your suit after every use and make sure all the stings. If you don’t, the stings will continue to release ‘warning signals’ every time you come near the bee hive and will definitely prompt a vicious attack!
***John Edwards is a bee enthusiast and a farmer. He has participated in several research projects aimed at improving apiculture in general.
About the Author
Michael V. Taylor is a Long time Beekeeper, and enjoys helping others get started in this amazing hobby by sharing information about beekeeper suits
His newest book,”The Ultimate Beekeeping Guide” teaches Beekeepers everything they need to know about pruducing Honey.