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Thread: Bee Suits

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    Default Bee Suits

    We have several new folks on the forum who are getting bees this season. Comments on a couple of threads have mentioned bee suits, either where to get them, how nice and protective they are, or don't wear them when you're working a hive in view of your neighbors so they don't think there's serious danger. (I'm just summarizing here...)

    So, for the newbies, I thought a discussion about what we wear when working our bees might be in order. When I started in 1970, there wasn't much information or alternatives available. Simply stay away from wool, dark colors, leather, etc. I started with boots, blue jeans taped around the top of the boots, an old long-sleeved white shirt, and veil. Gauntlet style bee gloves.

    Now, I still wear boots, jeans taped to the top (don't like the little darlings crawling up my legs), and old long sleeved white shirt, veil. If the bees seem cranky, I'll don the gloves after a few stings.

    Personally, I don't see the need for an expensive bee suit.
    Opinions?
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Anderson County, Texas
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    1,254

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I would recommend [for beginners] a zippered veil that doesn't require a helmet [English type methinks] which zips onto a white cotton pullover longsleeved shirt. This shirt should have blowsers on the sleeve ends. Then the gloves can be easily pulled over the long sleeves. This should give adequate protection. Also, light colored paints are heplful, also with blowsers on the pant legs so you don' have to continuously tape the legs. In the military you had blowsers that you put on you pants legs which sealed them off. Long light colored cotton socks can then be pulled over the pants leg and it wouldn't matter whether you had shoes or boots. Below is a description of what I am talking about [shirt veil combo] from from Michael Bushes site:

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnewbees.htm

    "Veil, jacket, or suit. I would prefer, if I only have one protective suit, to have a full coverall with a zip on veil. That way I can be pretty fearless of the bees. If you make them mad enough, long enough, they will still get in, but that would require quite a bit of time. If you have the money to spare, I'd buy a jacket with a zip on veil besides because it's easier to take on and off, cooler and handier. I like the hooded ones, as opposed to the ones with a helmet. I was paranoid at first of the hood being in contact with my head, but I have three nylon outfits (one jacket and two coveralls), all with hoods, and have never been stung on the back of the head like I expected."
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Hampton, VA, USA
    Posts
    175

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    To each his own. Every person can choose to be fully dressed or no protection at all and anywhere in between.

    I use the Poly/Cotton jacket sold by Dadant and Nyplex gloves. They are inexpensive and give me the protection I require.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Dexter, Maine
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    1,037

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I like a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, but eventually I'll regret it. I do own a white jump suit, free bee from another beek. I hope to hear about a good veil, on this discussion.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2009
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    New Cumberland, PA
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    1,380

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I wore a Bee Jacket and would rather keep my girls from kissing me at any time. I probably got kissed 40 times last year. Mostly from stupid things, like not zippering up the veil onto the jacket, ripped pants, working bees at dusk and when I bent my one knee which stretched my pants across my thigh, which gave the girls a platform in order to kiss me.

    Last year, I wore a heavy cotten jacket and veil and sweated so much that the jacket was drenched by the time I finished servicing my hives.

    Since I sweat so much, I switched to Magnet-Man's design and have used it recently. Yesterday, I opened up the hive to put more sugar and I was greeted by several bees out of each hive. Thank goodness for my bee jacket.

    When I first got into beekeeping, my mentor only wore short sleeve shirts and a veil, while I had on my protective gear. The first sting didn't really bother him, but by the time he got his seventh sting, let's just say that his disposition got worse each time he was kissed.

    Hmmm... I noticed that last year, he got himself a bee jacket with a veil.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
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    1,697

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    i like the zippered veil/suit and gloves. As well, steel toed work boots. Them full supers are dang heavy and when one slips from the arms, a good boot comes in handy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Cass County, MO
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    448

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I am still new, so I wear a jacket w/zipper veil , white painters pants tucked in to my socks and bee gloves (+ my well lit smoker). I use this set up any time I am going to open the hive.

    For popping the top off and filling the hive top feeder, inserting/ removing sticky boards, etc, I just make sure I have light colors on. I also make sure they are clean clothes. I ave noticed if I were clothes I worked all day in they seem a bit more defensive ( because I guess they think I stink!!)

    I have toyed with the idea of loosing the gloves; in fact I got half way through an inspection last year with out my gloves. Then I lost my nerve.
    Following this regiment I have not been stung for so long I have forgot what it feels like!!
    This season when the hives are happily processing nectar I will try the no gloves approach again.

    RKR
    Last edited by rkr; 02-05-2010 at 08:03 PM.
    4 seasons 19 Hives-Camp Branch Bee Ranch. Est 2009
    "I am a nobody; nobody is perfect, and therefore I am perfect."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
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    2,694

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    In early spring or during a good nectar flow, I wear jeans, t-shirt, and baseball cap. (I have a full suit with a zip-on veil with the helmet...and I will use the veil from that suit over my hat if I want protection other than jeans and t-shirt. I have found that it is a pain trying to remove stingers from my ears if I am working by myself, and the veil prevents those stings.)

    When doing cutouts, I wear my Ultra-Breeze jacket with zip-on veil and latex gloves.

    In late summer during a dearth and the bees are downright aggressive, I wear the Ultra Breeze jacket, jeans, workboots, and leather gloves.

    It depends on what I am doing to the hive too. If I am pulling frames out of the broodnest, the bees can be a little crankier.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Cloud County, Kansas, USA
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    204

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    Going into my third season. Started out with a full suit and zip on veil and was very glad I did. It gave me the confidence to work my bees. It is incredibly hot in the summer though and late last season I bought a veil I can wear without a suit. In the past two seasons, I've been stung a few times and each time it hurt less, itched less and swelled up less. Now I'm not afraid to get stung any more and I plan on wearing a white shirt and blue jeans this year and a string veil for all but very intrusive exams of the hive. I also think I'll get an ultra-breeze jacket for when I get deep into the hives.

    I like nitrile gloves because they allow me to feel better, but I have gotten a couple of stings through them. They do make my hands sweat a lot, but unless you pinch a bee, they don't seem to want to sting the gloves. They will find the gap between the gloves and the sleeve of the suit if the sleeve rides up your wrist though. Ouch! Mostly they just crawl around on them and suck up the honey that gets on them.

    Hope that helps.

    BB

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Lancaster CA
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    410

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I have used them all. The worst is the English style hood with no cooling around the back of your neck. The BEST is Brushy Mountain full suit or jacket. The hat is ordered by hat size. All heavy cotton. Veil is indestructible. Keeps netting away from neck. High quality zippers, elastic and AMERICAN MADE! It is a little expensive for a hobbiest, but I am worth it. I wore one almost every day, all day for 2 years and love it. When working African bees I wear the full suit.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan
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    676

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I think it all depends on the comfort level of the new beekeeper.

    When I started, I wore a light jacket and a tie down veil, along with my full gloves. Gradually, as I became more comfortable with working the bees, I lost the gloves, stopped taping the pants, etc.

    Now, I wear a jacket with attached hood and jeans. I still wear nitrile gloves because I don't like the stickiness of propolis on my hands. Sometimes, depending on mud or sand, I'll wear boots, but slip on shoes are what I usually put on.

    But, most importantly, I'm comfortable. I couldn't have concentrated on the bees and doing my beekeeping if I was CONSTANTLY worried about being stung because of (what I may have felt was) inadequate clothing.

    By the way, a word of wisdom told to me: "There ain't no mirrors in the bee yard!" (Thanks, Dad!)

    DS

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,346

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    A few years ago I bought a full bee-suit; coveralls with zip-on veil. I wore it once, then I cut the stitches attaching the veil to the coveralls.

    Most of the time I wear tennis shoes with white cotton socks, shorts, and a long-sleeved white cotton T-shirt. I keep the veil, that I cut off the coveralls, handy. It is a bright, white, Kelley veil, with dark painted screen only in the panel you look out of. I have a white plastic helmet that I keep with the veil. If I get stung in one or both nostrils it can sometimes make my eyes water, it's harder to see what you're doing with your eyes watering, so I drop the veil over my head and let it loosely drape on my shoulders. I will then keep the veil on for at least the next few hives. I haven't regularly used gloves to work bees since I was twelve years old, in 1968. Almost every time I work my bees I get a few stings on my fingers or somewhere on my hands. These are usually due to my own accidental pinching of bees while I manipulate frames and sometimes I get stung in a nostril (ouch).
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Lake county, Indiana 46408-4109
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    3,536

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    Most of the time I use a "bugbaffler.com" and I have a ful suit from Mann Lake but it is verry hot so this winter I have purchased one from Magnentman and am looking forward to useing it, it is American made and beesource member made.

    What mood the girls are in tells me how to dress
    Ed, KA9CTT profanity is IGNORANCE made audible
    you can`t fix stupid not even with duct tape

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Gilmer,TX USA
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    1,830

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I have one of the dadant zipper veil suits (the no helmet type) and a pair of mann lake goat's skin gloves. I really like the suit because of the elastic closures around the wrists and the ankles. No rubber bands! The goat's skin gloves last about 2.5 years of heavy duty use.
    Kingfisher

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
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    Dexter, Maine
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    1,037

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    My mentor has a jacket with attached veil, no zippers you just pull it over your head like a sweater, I would like to find something like that, except his doesn't seem to breath as well as I would like. Also well were on the subject, I would like to have a veil (stand alone) to wear when working really busy hives. The one I see most often is about $23 and looks pretty crappy, what veil do you like best? (please include link)

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Loganville/Greensboro, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I use a veil and gloves, but I am thinking of getting a jacket or a suit as I am advertising for swarm calls this spring. I like the term "kissed"...Last year my girls kissed me maybe a dozen times. I took more stings from yellow jackets than I did my hives. I used to wear shorts when doing hive inspections but once last year I was "kissed" in the calf and had to be on my feet all that day and the next...it cause a nasty local reaction with lots of swelling..very unpleasant. Since then I am back to wearing pants...we'll see as it heats up this year. I've been eyeing the "bee britches" in the new Brushy Mountain cataloge...wondering if they are easy enough to pull on and off over regular shorts..any one know? Or should I just get a full suit?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Loganville/Greensboro, Georgia, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Suits

    BTW the veil I use is just the regular old folding veil over a helmet..has the square front viewing area, drawstrings...pretty basic but I like it well enough. I don't have a link..sorry. I think I got mine from Rossman

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Brady, washington
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    708

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I feel it up to you what ever you feel is good for you do. there is nothing Macho about getting stung. I always were a vail not always were other protective clothes but some times I Suit up. Just do what makes you feel comfortable and its all good.

  19. #19
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    Mar 2009
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    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: Bee Suits

    Great posts! thanks to all.

    Seems the matter of clothing is simply up to the beek. Doesn't seem to be an advantage, or at least not a great advantage, of the bee suit over jeans and long sleeved shirt.

    To those who asked about favorite veils, I've used the folding ones, but have gone to the round ones. https://products.kelleybees.com/wtkp....aspx?item=414
    they seem to give better visibility. Just my opinion though. And I use the plastic beekeeper's hat with the veil.

    Unlike Joseph Clemens, I just can't bring myself to work the bees in shorts or without a veil. I've had my eye swollen shut once, that was enough. Stings on the hands are good for the arthritis.

    Oh, and regarding being "kissed" by the bees? I get kissed by my wife regularly, and believe me, it is nothing like what the bees do. Besides, seems like the bees use the other end? Maybe its just me, but there's a big difference between a kiss, and a sting. Kinda ties in with the question I get asked sometimes: "Do the bees bite you often?"
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Covington, Ga, USA
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    1,549

    Default Re: Bee Suits

    I have the "cheap" version of the sherrif top, with the zip together veil. Its warm during the summer, but, depending on moods of the gals whether i ll put it up or not. I have not closed the zipper all the way a month or so ago and once they are in, you have to just take your beating.....lol. And i have been stung through it on the shoulder as well, but you just have to expect stings. Always try to wear pants if possible and heat permits it.
    "You laugh at me because I am different, but I laugh at you because you are all the same."

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