Cleaning beesuits
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    45

    Default Cleaning beesuits

    I know that a beesuit needs to be washed after using it, especially gloves as stingers left on clothes leaves traces of attack pheromones, which will alarm bees on a future day if wearing the same suit.

    What needs to be done to properly wash a suit and gloves though? Does it need to be thrown into the washing machine with soap, or can simply putting the suit and gloves on the clothes line and squirt it down with a hose, suffice?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Dickson TN
    Posts
    1,943

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    The rare instance I wash a bee suit I use plain baking soda but prefer to just hang it outside for a day when it's sunny.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    4,136

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    Uhhg. After wearing my suit all summer, it has the delightful aroma associated with goldenrod honey as it cures. I wash my jacket once or twice a year in hot water, soap, and ammonia. I wash my gloves more often to get the pheromones off. Wash while wearing with a little dish soap, rinse thoroughly and remove to allow to dry. Seems to work but does not remove the propolis or stains.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Tallapoosa, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    637

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I carry mine to the laundry mat. They have an agitatorless washer that is more gentle on my jacket. Plus I do not get propolis in the wife's washer nor dryer.
    Working to propagate my survivors and staying treatment free USDA Zone 7b

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I wash my gear frequently, often doing a load every week when I am working in the bee yard every day. I have several jackets and it is very pleasant to put a clean one each day when I have worked all day in another one. In hot weather I am often drenched to the skin with sweat, so re-using that gear without washing would be unappealing.

    My washing machines are small front-loading, European-style ones.

    Unzip and remove the head gear to protect the mesh of the veil. (See below for handwashing instructions.)

    The main body of the jacket or suit can go in the machine.

    Pretreat (or presoak the whole garment) on any really bad stains (knees and cuffs for instance) with an unscented Oxy-clean type of product (active; ingredient sodium perborate). Scrape any wax off. Use grain alcohol to remove propolis if you want to make an especially through job of it. Turn-out and clean debris from the pockets.

    If the item is one of the multi-layer "ventilated suits", zip up and safety-pin close any zippers to avoid damaging the outer mesh layer with unprotected teeth of the zip. These are always washed with a more-gentle cycle and lower temps.

    Wash in warm to hot water, depending on fabric content (linen or all cotton can take the high temps, blends and synthetics need lower temps.) Hot for me is 140-180 F. Warm is 80-120 F.

    I use a plain washing powder product, without optical brighteners and heavy fragrances. In the US that is ordinary Cheer powder. I never use liquid detergent, or fabric softeners of any kind. My machines, being front-loaders, use a very small amount of powder/per load - about 1.5- 2 TABLESPOONS.

    I use an extra rinse to remove the last vestiges of detergent.

    I NEVER wash my hive gear with any regular clothes to avoid depositing small quantities of bee venom on other garments. Indeed after a load of jackets, I will either run a load of household utility wash (dust and polishing cloths or pet bedding) or an empty load to clean out the machine. I have read that non-beekeeping family members who are never stung can acquire an escalating risk of serious allergies to bees from repeated small exposures through common-washing clothes with bee gear. Since I am the family laundress, all it takes is some advance planning on my part to avoid this risk.

    Garments are then line dried, never dried in the dryer.

    Handwashing instructions for veils: Soak in a solution of powdered Oxy-clean to remove sweat and grime from the headband. I use a large, shallow, round pan intended for serving mash to horses. The soak may last a few hours, or whatever is convenient. Then dump the soaking water and refill the tub, adding a small quantity of washing powder, swish and squeeze the detergent through then rinse copiously in several changes of water and a final drench from the tap. Don't wring or twist. Hang outdoors to dry.

    I work bees with bare hands, so I can't help you on glove cleaning.

    Nancy

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,474

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    Third season now on this jacket - never washed once, and don't wanna wash.
    Bees don't care and maybe actually prefer the propolised jacket smell.
    Beginning to look like a camo garb.

    I think they especially like the smell of my really well used gloves.
    Why fix what ain't broken?
    If for the people around me, not fixing that.

    The next jacket I get, I will just buy a camo outright and call it done.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
    Posts
    1,602

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I dont use a suit only a plain old white shirt.I wash gloves and shirt in washer with detergent.I never put in the drier so I dont get propolis in it.Propolis comes off wet gloved pretty easy.A wet shirt in the south Arkansas heat is comforting with evaportive cooling also.Other than that I just hang up and let it dry.Beekeeping is dirty business so I dont try for sparkling white shirt because you wont get all the propolis out.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    280

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    Tag in mine says to wash in the machine using cold water and a gentle cycle. I just use normal clothes detergent, and hang to dry. Worked well so far. I'm a heavy sweater, so I need to wash a couple times each summer to keep from getting too "fragrant".

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Decatur / Cullman, also. 35603
    Posts
    798

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I wash mine 2-3 times each month. 5 gal bucket with laundry detergent, and Ajax dishwashing liquid. Hot water, dunked a few times, and cold water rinse. Hang dry. 1 season complete, and looks almost new, and the bees don't mind it's clean either.

  11. #10

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I wash like Nancy but only twice a year or when the bees are getting agitated because they smell the other apiaries too much.
    I have coveralls placed at every beeyard, so I can quickly pull it over my normal clothes if an emergency happens and I donīt have the jacket with me, but I like to use a jacket. I love the jacket dirty and the nice smells. Donīt care much about the sweat because I sweat all the time because of my age. One day bee work and itīs smelly again, but I like this to happen in a world which uses perfume on everything. Bee perfume is the best and propolis smell or smoker smell covers everything.

    I put the veil hat in the shower basin to soak.
    The gloves I soak in dishwashing soap mixed with a little alcohol. Then I put them on rubbing my hands and the propolis comes off. I dry in the shade and then coat it with an organic produced leather fat coating.
    I still have my clothes and gloves from 2014, but the gloves are starting to get thinner now and having holes.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    3,162

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I haven’t washed my jacket in three years. It’s almost pitch black so I suppose I should but every year? I’ve never had a problem with bees attacking.
    My opinions are based on whatever OD Frank says because he thinks he knows everything!

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    2,572

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    Veil, gloves, and jacket. Gentle, warm, and often.
    David Matlock

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Buxton, Maine
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    It doesn’t bother me if jacket is a little soiled. After a good work out in apiary, I myself take a shower,(without the jacket)��

  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee
    Posts
    1,456

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I use a large bucket or barrel of water, scent free detergent, then mix and let it sit. I want no smell and no roughing, or heating of the suit. Let it sit for a hour or so and then hang it up and let the sun and wind dry it out. I only wear a bee suit a couple times a year though so I only wash it once.
    Splitting a first year hive successfully https://youtu.be/ZfRTreQ-S9c

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    woodland, wa usa
    Posts
    66

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    My hope/intention. Wash it aprox every year, whether it needs it or not. Goatskin gloves, never washed, just thrown away once stiff and hole-y.

    Actual, yeah, maybe some year I'll wash it, but it doesn't look/smell that bad yet. And if I do wash it, I'll unzip the veil section and hand wash it separate in a bucket. And machine wash the jacket on fragile, and hang it to drip dry.

    I find the hype about the affects of whatever the smell there may be in my suit or on my person, from stings, body odor, smoke smell, (from intentionally smoking jacket,veil and gloves) is mostly just that, hype. I believe if other wise, ie. if there really were a detrimental affect, I'd be getting stung through my jacket near every time I inspect. But I'm not, my bees don't generally sting through my jacket, but there is nothing other than white color of cloth fabric to stop them. They do indeed have some defensiveness, against YJ's, robbers, and even me during this dearth, but when I smoke them, they tolerate me, however smelly my jacket, or I, am. And during the flow I can generally smoke my gloves, jacket and veil at the beginning of the season , and that will suffice, with no need to smoke hives for inspections, which I resist doing if at all possible, since the bees are more in their place during the inspection. Just saying.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Posts
    1,148

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I use about 1/2 cup of washing soda because chemistry. It is a little more alkaline than baking soda, but still won't harm the fabric. Find it with the laundry soap at Walmart. Washing soda will break down the propolis.

    The veil is soaked in washing soda in a hot sink and rinsed well.

    Washing soda will also get your tools clean. 1/2 cup in a tray of hot water and soak the tools for about ten minutes, rinse, and dry.
    Zone 6B

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    White County, Arkansas
    Posts
    891

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    Enjambres. Thanks for the pinning of the zipper. The hood I have used dawn in the sink and let it soak a little then rinse like you said. My gloves (meds I am on irritates the bees and they don't like my smell) I air dry only if it is breezy, otherwise i throw it in the dryer. For the suit (I have a front loader also) gentle cycle with plain old cheer free and clear. Double rinse. Hang dry hood and jacket. Now if I can find a big enough ditty bag for all of it..

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Batavia OH
    Posts
    7

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    Thanks for the tip on washing soda, haven't heard that one before. Ive been doing several tear outs, my suit looks like I've had it for ten years instead of just a couple.

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

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    My suits are also washed with non-scented detergent in cold water on the gentle cycle. The removable hoods are hand washed and rinsed separately in a bucket.

    After a few visits to the yards in mid summer my suit begins to emit the aroma of a Jr High School boys locker room. Not sure if the bees mind, but at that point it's time for a washing for the beekeepers benefit.

    If your suit has brass zippers and you notice they become a little sticky after a washing, rub a block of beeswax along both lengths of the zipper. You'll find that they will slide like brand new again.
    To everything there is a season....

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Houston, TX, USA
    Posts
    646

    Default Re: Cleaning beesuits

    I read this somewhere here, but I don't separately wash the hood anymore. I tuck it inside and close all zippers, gentle wash cold-cold, small amount of detergent and oxiclean, hang dry. Not trying to get it white like new...

    It gets washed if I get in poison ivy, after particularly dirty removals, and when I can't get in the car with it.

    Gloves - disposable, no mess on hands and you can still feel.

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