A bee suit is a combination of items that beekeepers wear to protect themselves from bees while they are working in or around their hives. As far as beekeeping supplies go, it is the most important safety item…but how does it all work? What are the parts? What do they do? Why are they like that? This article will answer your questions about the bee suit, and how and why all of the components are used.
Hat or Helmet.
This is the part of the suit that the beekeeper wears on their head. Most beekeepers prefer the traditional plastic sunhat style but there are other types available as well. Some beekeepers prefer a cloth hat for a little bit better ventilation. Look for a hat with excellent ventilation and of course adequate protection from the bees.
This is the mesh or net hood that protects the beekeepers face and neck from being stung by bees. The veil usually integrates with the hat and the coveralls (see below) to form a continuous barrier that the bees cannot get through. Usually the hat is shaped in a way that holds the veil away from the beekeepers face and neck. A good veil will provide excellent field of vision and very good ventilation. (and of course protection from bee stings.) Also, be sure the veil you choose is compatible with the rest of your bee suit.
The coveralls are very much like a mechanics coveralls in that they cover the beekeeper from the neck to the wrists and ankles. The wrists and ankles have elastic built in to seal tight, and the collar often has a zipper to integrate with the veil. They provide protection from bee stings and honey messes and grass stains as well. Usually bee suit coveralls are white and made of a cotton/poly blend. The material is thick and durable enough to protect against most stings. That being said, many beekeepers elect to wear long pants and sleeves under their coveralls for extra protection.
A beekeepers gloves protect from the fingertips to the elbows. The actual glove part is usually made of goat skin or leather, but sometimes canvas, and may be dipped in rubber for extra grip. The wrists and forearms are protected by a long gauntlet, often a thick cotton/poly or canvas material with elastic at the opening to keep the bees out. High end beekeepers gloves have a vent built into the wrist area for added ventilation without compromising protection.
Some beekeepers like to wear heavy duty socks and tuck their overall pant cuffs into their socks for extra protection against bees flying up their pant leg. This is effective and funny looking at the same time.
Most beekeepers like to wear fairly heavy, leather work boots. The thick leather provides protection from stings, and these boots often have toe protection, for those unexpected drops.
Well that pretty much covers it. The bee suit demystified. If you’re thinking about getting into beekeeping or if you are just starting out, be sure to check out more of the articles about beekeeping supplies on this site.
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