So you’ve purchased your beehive and the bees are on their way. You think you have everything ready, but have you considered a suit? No, I’m not talking about a tuxedo, but your beekeeping suit. A beekeeping suit is a very important item that will not only protect you, but your bees as well. If you’re familiar with it, you know that a beekeeping suit may look unusual. But this astronaut-like outfit is a vital piece of equipment for beekeepers. No matter how gentle your bees are, they will still try to sting you at times. This is the ultimate buying guide for the best beekeeping suits.
Be on the lookout for an upcoming post about our top favorite beekeeping suits. We will compile our list of the best bee suits with reviews so you can decide the best for you!
What is a beekeeping suit?
Beekeeping suits have been an essential garment for centuries. Beekeeping suits have evolved from wicker masks with limited visibility to a modern design with long sleeves and a transparent veil. The veil is an essential part of the beekeeping suit which typically hangs down past the shoulders which protects the beekeeper’s head, face, and neck. The veil is made of a breathable mesh material that allows the beekeeper to easily breathe and see what they are doing.
The main component of a beekeeping suit is the heavy jacket made out of cotton- the best defense against bee stings. However, the cotton can also make the beekeeper warm and sweaty during the summer or in hot climates. Some beekeeping suits are made of nylon. Because nylon is slippery, bees are unable to land on it and sting the beekeeper. However, nylon is not as breathable as cotton so the wearer will get sweaty more quickly. Now, there are beekeeping suits with more ventilation. These ventilated beekeeping suits are made of several layers of a breathable mesh material. Ventilated beekeeping suits offer not only protection from bee stings, but also air flow to keep the beekeeper cooler and more comfortable. No matter what kind of beekeeping suit you choose, your main priority is purchasing a suit that will protect you from bee stings.
Do I need a beekeeping suit?
Many novice beekeepers question whether they need a beekeeping suit. While it is acceptable to only use a hat and veil, many experienced beekeepers enjoy the protection and security that a beekeeping suit brings.
Tips for Choosing the Right Beekeeping Suit
Choose the Right Fabric
Your local temperature can play a big factor in determining what fabric you should consider for your suit. A few common fabric options for suits are: cotton, ventilated, and aerated. Cotton suits provide the best protection from stings, but they can also be very warm. Cotton suits are optimal for regions with mild summers. Polycotton is a blend of cotton and polyester that makes the suit very durable. Ventilated bee suits are made up of three layers composed of synthetic layers on the outside and a foam core in the center. The foam creates an air gap that is large enough for a bee stinger to get stuck in it without making contact with skin. Lastly, an aerated suit is made from polycotton fabric but have foam panels for additional air flow. If you live in an area with hot, humid summers, you may opt for a ventilated or aerated suit.
Determine the Best Veil Type
Beekeeping suits can come with veils attached. Veils attached to suits provide a big safety advantage. It minimizes the risk of being exposed to the bees. A separate veil and suit can potentially create gaps and holes which will allow bees to crawl into the suit. There are several popular types of veils to consider when determining which suit will work best for you:
- The Round Veil is a popular design that provide a wide field of view. The round veil allows for a safe distance between the face and the protective mesh. This type of veil is very breathable and provides great ventilation. The round veil is ideal for regions with hot summer days. This veil typically falls over a hat and reaches past the wearer’s shoulders. Many beekeepers prefer this type of veil.
- The Fencing Veil is a modern design that does not require a hat. This type of veil keeps it shape with wires which minimizes contact between the veil and the head and hair. Fencing veils offer a wide range of view. Some beekeepers prefer this type of veil because they do not have to worry about their hair while tending to bees.
- The Square Veil is a convenient and efficient veil. The square veil folds so it can be easily stored. The mesh is wrapped around the sides to allow good air circulation. The veil consists of two pieces, a hardhat and a mesh veil however you can use any hat to make it more cost efficient.
Invest in High Quality Suits
Even though beekeeping suits are lightweight, it is important to choose suits made of quality material. A high quality suit will ensure you won’t feel stings when you do get stung. Bee stings are inevitable when you are caring for honeybees so be sure to choose a suit that will limit how much if them you’ll feel. A high quality suit will also have finer mesh which makes it easier to see through. You should also pay attention to the quality of the zippers and elastics around the wrists and ankles. A lower quality suit may have gaps and holes that will invite bees to come into your suit. All well-made suits will have many pockets (typically eight pockets or more), all the seams will have double stitching for added protection, a removable veil, and tight elastic or Velcro around the ankles and wrists to keep bees out.
Aim for Light Colors
Bees do not like dark colors so you will find that most beekeeping suits are white or another lighter color.
How do I choose a suit that fits properly?
A beekeeping suit should never be too tight. A properly fit suit can be worn loose, but not baggy. The fit should allow for easy movement while properly covering your body whether you are standing up straight or bent down. When you consider sizing, be sure that you have plenty of room to bend and twist. However, if the suit is too big, you can trip on the excess fabric. When purchasing a beekeeping suit, take measurements and read the sizing guide.
How do I maintain and care for my beekeeping suit?
After you’ve invested in your beekeeping suit, it is important to maintain it properly so it can remain a valuable piece of safety equipment. These suits are not indestructible, but with proper care your beekeeping suit can serve you for a long time.
Here are a few things to know about how to care of your beekeeping suit:
- Inspect your suit often. It is recommended that you inspect your beekeeping suit every time you want to use it. Check for any rips, tears, or holes. Bees have a tendency to find these weaknesses and crawl into small spaces and holes. Inspect your suit again when you put it on to ensure there are no gaps for bees to get through. This includes ensuring that your zippers are closed all the way.
- Wash your suit. If bees try to sting you while you’re wearing your suit, the stingers will give off a scent that can be alarming to bees the next time you wear it. This can result in even more bees attacking you. Washing your suit will ensure that any leftover stingers are removed before your next use. To wash a suit, remove the veil (hand wash only) and wash the suit alone in the machine with cold water. Cotton suits can be put in the dryer on low heat, although it’s recommended to hang dry suits.
- Store your suit properly. Carefully store your suit when not in use. Ideally, hang your suit upright and avoid contact with any sharp corners or objects.
Purchasing a beekeeping suit is an important decision based on your region’s climate, your veil preference, and your overall comfort level. While not required, many expert beekeepers wouldn’t dream to tend to their hives without wearing one. It provides a sense of security and protection. Purchasing the best beekeeping suit is a personal decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It will serve as your armor as you tend to your honeybees.Check out our list of the best beekeeping suits for new and experienced beekeepers: 10 Best Beekeeping Suits.