Washing gear
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Thread: Washing gear

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Goshen, NY, USA
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    62

    Default Washing gear

    Guys, I know this is a silly question but;

    What do you use to wash your gear in so there is no odor?

    This year they are just attacking me like crazy and I think it's the
    smell of the suite. They aren't as bad when I go down to the yard
    with just vial on.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Penobscot County, ME, USA
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    Default Re: Washing gear

    Suite? The bees don't like your rooms? Vial? What body part are you putting it on, and is it opaque or transparent?

    Seriously though...my suit and jacket have never seen a washer since they were new 7 years ago, and it seems that the bees like it that way. They don't 'attack' but appear to be attracted to it as it offers familiarity, bees will land on it even when I'm not near the hives, and I often have a few hitchhikers that end up back in the house (which I don't notice until they get attracted by the lights and start flying around, which kind of drives the cats a little batty).

    My instructor/'mentor' (a large commercial beekeeper) and his employees don't seem to bother washing their suits either.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
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  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
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    3,291

    Default Re: Washing gear

    The past 2 years I've migrated to wearing a clean collared long sleeve shirt with a tulle veil and ball cap. The shirts were an old uniform, so I have about 20 that i wear for all outside or dirty work, mowing, working on car, etc. I wash them like normal clothes.

    When I used an upper jacket veil as a daily driver, I would wash it once a year in clothes washer with normal laundry detergent

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,245

    Default Re: Washing gear

    I use Seventh Generation detergent and then wash again in Oxyclean. The detergent is all natural and does smell like lavender. Washing a second time with Oxyclean removes the tough stains and leaves a neutral odor. The bees pay no attention, so assume it smells ok with them. I only wash it a few times a season, but can't imagine not washing it at all. I must sweat and stink more than others. J

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Fulton, mississippi
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    50

    Default Re: Washing gear

    Beekeeping in the south my suit begins the smell(stink) like a mixture of burning pine needles, sweat, and a sweet fermentation(probably from hive). It's not a good mixture. I use Dawn dish soap in the bathtub then hang it outside to air dry a few days. A couple times a year in hot weather.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Rib Lake WI
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    1,715

    Default Re: Washing gear

    I don't wear a suit veil or gloves but I shower before I go out to work them I must smell like a bear if I don't.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Goshen, NY, USA
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    62

    Default Re: Washing gear

    I really am the woorste speller ever.

    True, most of the pics of commercial beekeepers in suits don't look like they ever wash them.

    I just don't know why this year is worse than last. Perhaps I have a really hot hive..

    Thanks, I have used oxyclean too, works well

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Landing, NJ, USA
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    1,026

    Default Re: Washing gear

    General Patton was a poor speller too, but he made up for it in other ways.

    It could be that it isn't the suit, but that the temperament of the bees has changed.
    Bill

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Washing gear

    I wash my jackets all the time, perhaps once a week or so in the warm season. I am in a bee jacket six or seven hours every day, and mine get filthy and, in hot weather, stinky.

    I have a front loading washing machine and I throw two jackets in at once.

    Unzip and remove veils and set them to soaking in a large round, flat but shallow, tub (Tractor Supply for feeding horses, I think.) I use 140F water (my tap hot water temp) and some Oxyclean in the first soak. Later some Cheer powder, squished through the veils. If they truly nasty (as they are now when they get covered in bee pop, every day) then a couple of squirts Charlie's Soap are added to the Oxyclean. Rinse well, and line dry outside.

    The bodies of the jackets get washed at 140 F (machine boosts tap cold to this in a step-wash profile), plain Cheer powder, Oxy if needed, and Charlie's Soap pre-soak on the cuff and pocket areas. Never any fabric softener. Hang outside to dry.

    My jackets (and suits, though I almost never wear them so they get washed only a few times/year) are 100% cotton, poly-cotton and typical, three-layer ventilated fabric.

    Dirty jackets are disgusting, however, except for sting pheromones, I think they neither excite nor calm the bees. I don't put much stock in the reports of laundry additives, body washes and shampoos getting bees riled up.

    But washing your jacket will improve your own beekeeping experience.

    And I always plan ahead to run a load of household/utility laundry, not clothing, after doing my bee jackets to make sure I am not redepositing any bee venom or bee allergens on personal items. The clean-up loads are pet blankets and bedding, cleaning cloths, car detailing wipers, etc.

    Nancy

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Humboldt Co., California
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    557

    Default Re: Washing gear

    Tide and bleach work for me.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
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    5,604

    Default Re: Washing gear

    It also could be that it's not the "suit" at all ... but you. Long shot, but something to consider. Look at your shampoo, soap, deodorant, fabric softener for clothes, etc. Maybe there is something you are using the bees don't particularly like the scent of. Not trying to discourage proper hygiene, just check to see if you are using something different now.

    Like others, I wash my suit regularly through the season when needed with non=fragrant detergent. It can get pretty rank, especially in the sweaty summer months. I wash it mainly for my own benefit, not sure if the bees really care or not.
    To everything there is a season....

  13. #12
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    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    6,635

    Default Re: Washing gear

    I only wear bee jackets or coveralls when the conditions dictate it, too darned hot for me. Wash them to the extent you are comfortable but I'd advise against whitening them. If you ever work bees in the dark or low light situations you will quickly discover why. I don't understand why they don't offer those things in a gray or khaki.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #13
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    Jan 2015
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    Penobscot County, ME, USA
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    Default Re: Washing gear

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    It also could be that it's not the "suit" at all ... but you. Long shot, but something to consider. Look at your shampoo, soap, deodorant, fabric softener for clothes, etc. Maybe there is something you are using the bees don't particularly like the scent of. Not trying to discourage proper hygiene, just check to see if you are using something different now.

    Like others, I wash my suit regularly through the season when needed with non=fragrant detergent. It can get pretty rank, especially in the sweaty summer months. I wash it mainly for my own benefit, not sure if the bees really care or not.
    I try to go out freshly showered, using Ivory soap. The only times the bees have an issue with me, is when an incident occurs where a bunch get killed, and then they (whichever hive it was) will be on alert for a few days.

    Here in ME there are usually not many days when I get super sweaty working the hives and even then the suit/jacket itself does not get sweated up because there are other clothes underneath. If I lived in Georgia or Texas it could be a different story. Here there are only a few months of the year when I am *not* wearing thermal underwear- I am very skinny, no fat to speak of and lose body heat rapidly at temps under 80*. At temps under 70*, my fingers start going numb if I am not very active.
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Goshen, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Washing gear

    Thank you all.

    My suit is getting pretty grungy so it's defiantly time. I'm glad some of you are using regular laundry products
    since I have always heard that the odor will attract the bees.

    The more I think about it the more I think one hive went hot over the winter since that's the one I have
    the most trouble with. Those girs will follow me back to the house 300 feet away.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Massac County, Illinois
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: Washing gear

    Eating a banana prior to working bees will cause them to be defensive. Senior beeks tell me the banana scent and the bees fear pheromone are similar.

  17. #16
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    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
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    Default Re: Washing gear

    Quote Originally Posted by Geno View Post
    Eating a banana prior to working bees will cause them to be defensive. Senior beeks tell me the banana scent and the bees fear pheromone are similar.
    Maybe for some, but I’ve never experienced that and I’ve eaten my lunch, which included a banana, in the bee yard .. sitting on the back of a hive.
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  18. #17
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    Default Re: Washing gear

    I, too, eat bananas all the time in my bee-yard. With no visible reaction from my bees, ever.

    I think this is one of those old beek tales, based on the fact that to us the alarm pheromone smells sorta like bananas. But I imagine that for bees, with their vastly superior ability to distinguish scents it's easy to tell their alarm scent from an actual fruit.

    I often have read statements that bees don't like woolen clothing because it "reminds them of bears." If you live in the north like I do, wool outer wear is pretty common, and my bees simply ignore it. Heck some years, they are wrapped up in 100% wool blankets, with no objections noted from the bees.

    Or maybe Larry and I get free banana-passes because our bees know we are both so dedicated to killing off annoying varroa mites. That's probably it, doncha think?

    Nancy

  19. #18
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    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Washing gear

    The last I knew Isopentyl acetate is one and the same whether from bee or banana. If it serves as alarm pheromone from the bees sting apparatus, it would serve the same purpose if from the banana plant.

  20. #19
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    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
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    5,604

    Default Re: Washing gear

    It sounds like some beekeepers have Mite Tolerant Bees, and some have Banana Tolerant Bees.

    Seriously, who knows. I've heard accounts supporting both sides of the banana argument. All I know for sure is that the alarm pheromone smells just like bananas ... to me anyway. And to be ... better safe than sorry, I eat my bananas when not in the bee yard. Don't want to learn the hard way my bees are not banana lovers.
    To everything there is a season....

  21. #20
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    Jan 2015
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    Penobscot County, ME, USA
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    Default Re: Washing gear

    Apparently, I have never smelled alarm pheromone, because I have never smelled anything like banana while working the bees. They have become alarmed, on occasion, but I have never noticed a smell...maybe it's because I never wash my bee suit...I will note, however, that it may be unwise to fart while wearing a full suit...
    If you want to be successful, study successful people and do what they do.
    Zone 4a/b

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