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I was reading Miller's book, and he talks about how his wife 'assisted' him in his beekeeping (sounds to me like it was more than that, but whatever. He writes about her clothing, how she pinned her veil (he copied her idea), the gloves she liked, oversleevea and an apron to protect her clothes. But he didn't discuss the one thing I want to know... how did she keep her legs and derrière from being stung while wearing a dress!? I guess he was too much a gentleman to mention if she wore protective bloomers or somethIng. Anyone know how ladies historically dealt with this? I'd be interested in other times and places too.
 

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Thats a great question.
I do not know, but from my research, I do know that people in the
19th century were less fearful of stings than people are today.

I found an article in my archives by Lucinda Harrison,
who was a famous woman beekeeper in the late 19th
century who wrote quite extensively in bee journals.
A. I. Root wrote “Among women, no beekeeper is more
widely known than Mrs. Lucinda Harrison." (A. I. Root. c. 1891)
In an article she wrote in Gleanings in Bee Culture, 1882
she recommends "if bees are very cross, wear leggins
or a long skirt." I suppose leggins could be worn under
the skirt for added protection from stings.

https://www.facebook.com/Historical...4343659953472/851679231553241/?type=3&theater

Women had advantages over men beekeepers.
Here, a woman catches a swarm of bees in her petticoat.

https://www.facebook.com/Historical...4343659953472/675678592486640/?type=3&theater

I have several 'Women in Beekeeping' articles on my
FB Page, you can find with a search. Your post reminds
me I better get working on another women in beekeeping
article.

-Joe
https://www.facebook.com/Historical.Honeybee.Articles/
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info and nice photos. Miller says he hates to be stung and his first wife is was like me and swelled up when stung, so I'd hoped to hear some good old fashioned ideas for keeping bees out of skirts, but no luck.
The people course are fun. I don't think I'll be using my undergarments to catch any swarms, but I imagine she was only too glad for an excuse to remove a layer of clothing on a hot spring day. I note the lady in the accompanying picture seems to be wearing a heavyweight skirt with a weighted hem. I think such skirts and leggings were sonetines worn for riding so that one would not be exposed if the wind picked up or your horse shied into the brambles. Maybe they wore something borrowed from that? I've read that in Afghanistan, beekeeping is often done by women because they can do it at home. I wonder how they keep bees from getting under traditional dress.
Speaking of women in beekeeping, met an elderly gent this weekend who was proudly showing me how his association still has a 'honey princess' beauty pageant. He didn't take kindly to my suggestion that much of the new Beekeepers might prefer to at least have an accompanying honey prince or honey drone in his swimsuit!
 

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so I'd hoped to hear some good old fashioned ideas for keeping bees out of skirts, but no luck.
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Well, how to say this. I have some old Gleanings in Bee Culture from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some day I'll go through them to find a quote from AI Root that I found once while reading the old texts. Remember, most men felt that women should't be beekeepers as it was a man's work.

Basically it goes something like this...Women can certainly keep bees, and shouldn't worry about bees going up their skirts. If the bees do so, she needs only to lie down on the ground and stick her legs up in the air. The bees will leave where they wouldn't be.

Victorian humor?
 

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I don't know that getting under a skirt should be that much of a concern. I rarely get bees on my feet and ankles. so I often wear ankle socks. When I'm inspecting, the vast majority of bees are up at least to the level of the hive stand. Very few on the ground. I've never been stung on the ankle. Yet.
 

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I agree with Hops assessment. I don't wear a dress to the
yards, but when I occasionally wear my lab coat, bees
very rarely go up under it. Crawler bees would be more
of a concern for going up pant legs and dresses than flying
bees.

I do have details for womens bee dress somewhere, but
locating it in my files is problematic. Emma Wilson who
also wrote extensively in bee journals writes of bee
dress for women in 1891 but seems more concerned
with the ability to stay cool and wash the occasional
drop of honey stain from the garment, than of stings.

-Joe
https://www.facebook.com/Historical.Honeybee.Articles/
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, I imagine suggesting one might need to embarrassingly expose oneself was intended to put women off beekeeping!
I got stung recently by a bee that ran up a loose pant leg while gardening, which makes me wonder about bees and skirts.
 

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Yeah, I imagine suggesting one might need to embarrassingly expose oneself was intended to put women off beekeeping!
I got stung recently by a bee that ran up a loose pant leg while gardening, which makes me wonder about bees and skirts.
In the garden, knowing enough biology of the honeybee it was probably not a honeybee. Honeybees crawling up pant legs 'in the beeyard' does happen, its a fact of beekeeping. When this happens, a sting is usually inevitable, and I would assume as other experienced beekeepers might also be thinking, I resign to being stung -and hope the bee has enough sympathy to sting me early in her travels rather than later. I have on occasion gotten away without a sting a few times, and back at the truck raising my pant leg, a wondering bee will exit to the light.

Management practices were much simpler during the pre mite years, especially pre early 20th century times. Bee hives in the bee yard were not manipulated as extensively as they are today. Therefore, less disruption usually means less defensiveness and crawling bees, which permitted bee dresses to be sufficient protection for the women beekeeper.

Joe
https://www.facebook.com/Historical.Honeybee.Articles/
 
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