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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm super enthusiatic to get my first package ever this Saturday. I'm totally fascinated by bees and I have no fear (beyond the usual 'well, of course I prefer not to get stung') I let bees walk on my hands all the time, etc...

After watching videos of people installing packages, I'm currently planning to not use a veil or gloves. From what I can see based on the 20 videos I've watched, they are pretty docile at this stage. If anything, with the bumping and shaking, it seems a veil and gloves would kinda get in the way.

When inspecting the hive, I plan to use a veil and of course a smoker, but also no gloves. I've already practiced with my smoker, I got it down (I was a huge firebug in my day...hah)

I know that rolling or crushing a bee could lead to a sting, but that aside, does the above seem pretty kosher, or I am out in left field? Is the big variable 'what my bees might be like', so I should instead embark on the package installation and first few inspections with gear (and gloves), to see IF they are actually that docile?

Thx for any thoughts...
 

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I'm only in my third year now, so FWIW......when I started I got a full body suit and leather gloves and used them from package install thru my first few inspections. As I became more comfortable I skipped the gloves. I hate gloves for anything, they are clunky and I just don't like 'em. Eventually the full suit became a PIA to put on and take off. So I bought a jacket with veil which is what I wish I bought from the get go. These days, if I am just taking a quick peak I might not even put the jacket on. If I am going to pull frames and possibly do a more thorough inspection I put my jacket on because it's easy. I've been stung in the face a couple times, and that's not fun.

I get stung sometimes, usually on the hands when I pinch a bee on a frame. I do not react horribly, not a big deal. Even the face stings were not that bad. But, you have to consider that too. When is the last time you were stung? Do you KNOW how your body will react? Remember when you get stung once it can rile up the hive and suddenly you have a bunch of angry bees in your face.

Bottom line, you will get to know your bees and your comfort level. I watch/watched lots of videos too and for some reason got the notion that wearing no protective gear was cool or macho. Forget about that. IMHO worry less about what others do and find what's most comfortable and makes the hobby most enjoyable for you.

I hope you have as much fun as I am having with my bees. It's a great hobby!! Good luck!!
 

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The bees will let you know if they can be worked with nothing but a veil or not. I personally wear a jacket w/veil, and gloves when inspecting the hives. I lose the gloves when working with the queens. Accidents happen, full hive bodies get dropped, bees get upset. When I see someone working a hive on Ytube with minimal protective equipment, my inner self says, " hey, check out this idiot".

The old adage " hope for the best, but plan for the worst" applies here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The bees will let you know if they can be worked with nothing but a veil or not. I personally wear a jacket w/veil, and gloves when inspecting the hives. I lose the gloves when working with the queens. Accidents happen, full hive bodies get dropped, bees get upset. When I see someone working a hive on Ytube with minimal protective equipment, my inner self says, " hey, check out this idiot".

The old adage " hope for the best, but plan for the worst" applies here.
Thanks, makes sense. I was thinking about that too...what if I drop a frame...I bet I'd really wish I had a veil on!
 

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I am a cowardly man, so I wear full regalia! I just got stung in the lip today too! I know some people who don't use a veil to inspect and I literally cannot comprehend how that works. My bees are a bit on the angry side, not super aggressive, but working them without smoke causes a lot of problems for me (RIP ankles). Bees really don't seem to like me too much anywhere!
 

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Last year, as a third year beekeeper, I was getting pretty ****y with using minimal protective equipment.
I caught a swarm in early August that I was turned on to by a friend that is a professional exterminator.
I brought them home and installed them in a hive beside my others, and they were calm as cucumbers (as swarms often are)

After ten days, I made the mistake of an inspection with minimal equipment on, and this new hive kicked my butt all over the place.
Fortunately, I did have a veil on, but bent over and got my face too close to the screen, and got stung in the lip. I calmly walked away to get the stinger out of my lip, and several bees followed me about a hundred yards. I tried to quickly take off my veil to get the stinger out of my lip, and then was stung in the eyelid......eye swelled shut....trip to the doctor.....steroid shot.....etc...

This hive needed re-queened, badly and I was not prepared for something I had not yet ever seen before
If I had been expecting trouble, I would have been covered up better, and I learned a lesson that day.

Moral of the story.....as the saying goes.....its better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Those "machos" on YouTube can say what they want, but they wont be there to ice your face, and pull stingers out when you get lit up, and they wont be there when you need a steroid shot in the butt cheek at the doctors office.

I'm not trying to scare any new beekeepers off. You WILL get stung occasionally, but where, how often, and how badly is firmly within your control.
They make protective equipment for a reason, and my advice is to wear what you are comfortable with, and to err on the side of caution until you know your bees, and ESPECIALLY with a new hive or captured swarm (as in my case)
Remember you can always take it off at the hive if things are jolly, but it is hard to scramble to get it on when you are being lit up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Last year, as a third year beekeeper, I was getting pretty ****y with using minimal protective equipment.
I caught a swarm in early August that I was turned on to by a friend that is a professional exterminator.
I brought them home and installed them in a hive beside my others, and they were calm as cucumbers (as swarms often are)

After ten days, I made the mistake of an inspection with minimal equipment on, and this new hive kicked my butt all over the place.
Fortunately, I did have a veil on, but bent over and got my face too close to the screen, and got stung in the lip. I calmly walked away to get the stinger out of my lip, and several bees followed me about a hundred yards. I tried to quickly take off my veil to get the stinger out of my lip, and then was stung in the eyelid......eye swelled shut....trip to the doctor.....steroid shot.....etc...

This hive needed re-queened, badly and I was not prepared for something I had not yet ever seen before
If I had been expecting trouble, I would have been covered up better, and I learned a lesson that day.

Moral of the story.....as the saying goes.....its better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Those "machos" on YouTube can say what they want, but they wont be there to ice your face, and pull stingers out when you get lit up, and they wont be there when you need a steroid shot in the butt cheek at the doctors office.

I'm not trying to scare any new beekeepers off. You WILL get stung occasionally, but where, how often, and how badly is firmly within your control.
They make protective equipment for a reason, and my advice is to wear what you are comfortable with, and to err on the side of caution until you know your bees, and ESPECIALLY with a new hive or captured swarm (as in my case)
Remember you can always take it off at the hive if things are jolly, but it is hard to scramble to get it on when you are being lit up.
I decided to go with 15-mil nitrile gloves, and will at least wear a veil. (I read that 15-mil is thick enough to avoid stings.) I guess I had this impression that if I just wear a veil and use smoke (like most videos show...going barehanded) that I'd never get stung. Clearly, that is not how it goes. ;-) I particularly don't want to get stung on my hands as I play instruments, rock climb, etc...
 

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You also need to consider location. The South, including S Cali has some African genetics, so a hive that is nice one day can suddenly get very bad if they supersede the queen.

I tend to wear nitrile gloves and a light veil if I am doing anything more than popping the top for a peek. My veil is just a mosquito net over a wide-brimmed hat. Sufficient for mild to moderate bees. I'd go with a real veil if I were farther south where Africans might be a problem.
 

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As someone posted earlier in this thread,everyone reacts differently to stings. Personally, I usually swell a bit with my first sting of the year, and after a couple, I have less reaction as the summer goes, and end up later in the year with a "dot" on my skin at the sting site.
Perhaps I build a "seasonal immunity" and am affected less each time as the season goes. (Perhaps some other experienced beekeeper could chime in here with similar experiences ??)

I guess a lot of it depends on how "good" you get stung. I would HIGHLY recommend that you research how to PROPERLY remove a stinger ! It makes a HUGE difference IMHO.

Having said that. my wife (who helps me with all the beekeeping, and has been stung as much as I have, and usually has minimal reaction each time) was stung in the head last summer while walking into the garage through the screen door. We were not even working bees that day, but one was somehow caught in the window/screen of the door, and landed in her hair. She reached up to feel what it was in her hair, and was stung.....followed by a breakout in hives, red skin, violent rash, etc.

We nearly went to the emergency room that day, but she took some liquid Benadryl, and was eventually OK....but it ruined her afternoon. She has been stung since again, with minimal reaction. I have to assume that since the head is so very vascular, and the fact that we didn't get the stinger out right away, that this was a factor this time.

What i'm saying, is that each sting, and each time is different for some people. Getting the stinger out sooner, than later is a positive thing, in my opinion. But DONT SQUEEZE it, PICK it out horizontally, or you will squeeze ALL of the venom into your body ! (Again....look up PROPER way to remove a stinger !!)

Again.....not trying to scare anyone, but just sharing my limited 3-year experiences, so far.

Since the day that my wife had an unusual reaction, we have kept a pair of epi-pens on hand, and also more liquid Benadryl. Perhaps this is a bit of overkill (as epi-pens are expensive, and don't last forever.....shelf life is about a year) but with thousands of bees on our 18-acre property, we never know who get stung....including visitors, grandkinds, etc., and what their reaction could be like.

-Just my two cents worth.
 

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I always keep benadryl with me especially the first part of the year. My hands, ankle and face almost always swell up even if I've been stung lots.
 

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If you are looking for advice. I would not consider what you see on Utube "normal" It is what people want to be published.
Protect your self, until you have more experience. Unless you like to be stung.....
 

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I also prefer thick nitrile gloves over leather gloves. I have been stung thru the gloves, but it did not stick in my skin. I wear a jacket any time I am checking my hives. I would recommend at least a jacket (with veil) until you have experience and know what to look for and when a colony is getting wound up. The temperment of the hives also changes seasonally based on nectar flows and other environmental conditions. My hives tend to be grumpier and require smoke in the fall, where as in the spring they dont care if I am there and I dont need the smoker most days.
 

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What should you expect? Expect to get stung! It's a part of your new obsession.

I always wear a veil. Stinger in the eyeball is no bueno. That, and I'm just too darn pretty to tolerate a swollen face. :lpf:

Always, lots of good, cool smoke. I smoke my hands and the rest of me, too.

Cursory inspections, just a veil and bare hands. Usually.
Installing packages, I wear a jacket and 5 or 7 mil nitrile gloves.
Deeper inspections, a veil and nitrile gloves. Except for 1 pissy hive, for which I don a jacket.

I like to be able to feel the bees when I handle the frames so that I don't crush any bees, and I can often manipulate a hive without getting stung. For the times I wear gloves, 5 or 7 mil nitrile gloves work well. I still have a feel for the bees, and when I get stung on the hands, the stinger doesn't go in as deep and a quick tug on the glove removes it.

But never forget, these critters will not hesitate to sting you if they feel threatened, so Zen is the word. Your technique matters.
Also remember, you will get stung. It's the nature of the beast.
 
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