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One of the things that draw a lot of people to beekeeping is that it’s a relatively affordable hobby to get into. You don’t need to spend thousands and while there is some important equipment, there isn’t too much.
However, one of the most essential items for any new apiarist is a beekeeping suit. Without this, you are putting yourself at risk of being stung and that isn’t going to be pleasant.
You’ll notice that there are tons of beekeeping suits on the market so finding the right one isn’t always as easy a task as it should be. But that doesn’t need to be an issue with my in-depth guide on finding the best beekeeping suit for you.
In this post, I’ll uncover some of the best suits on the market as well as give you some useful information on finding a great, high-quality suit. Let’s get started.
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Even if you are totally new to beekeeping then you’ll more than likely have seen someone wearing a beekeeping suit. This is a form of protective gear worn by apiarists and its main purpose is to prevent you from getting stung as you work with your bees and take care of the hive.
Beekeeping suits are designed with comfort in mind which is why they are usually insulated. What’s more, they often obtain various compartments so you can feel comfortable regardless of the weather or conditions.
One of the most common types of beekeeping suits is the full-body suit which, as the name suggests, covers the entire body. It is made from one piece of canvas or cotton. Some may also be made from a type of mesh netting that’s impenetrable to bees.
These full-body suits have long sleeves which are elasticated at the ends so there’s no fear of any of your winged friends flying up your arms. The same can be said of the ankles which are also fully elasticated.
However, more modern options include the three-piece beekeeping suit which, rather than being made from a single piece of material, consists of three separate parts. This is the overalls, the gloves, and the veil. While made differently, this type of beekeeping suit affords the wearer the same level of protection but the great thing is that you can remove parts when necessary and you’ll feel less restricted.
Now comes the real question; do I really need to wear a beekeeping suit? I mean, let’s face it, when they designed the bee suit, they didn’t have fashion in mind. This can put people off as they may worry they’ll look silly but please let me warn you that beekeeping is not a catwalk show and you’ll be thankful for that suit.
By investing in a good beekeeping suit, you are removing the risk of being stung. Honey bees, by their nature, are pretty docile creatures but they will get aggressive if they are threatened as they’ll do whatever it takes to protect their hive.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that the job of your beekeeper’s suit isn’t to stop you from being stung entirely but to lower the chances. Essentially, the suit will make it much more difficult for those stingers to get to you. With this in mind, it’s worth considering the thickness of your suit if you want to afford yourself the greatest protection. But I will talk more about tips on choosing a beekeeping suit later in this guide.
Another reason that it’s important to wear a beekeeping suit is that it will ensure you are able to approach the hive more quietly. As I have mentioned, bees will rear up if they feel in danger so approaching noisily isn’t going to do you any favors.
The material of your suit won’t create as much noise as your regular clothing so you can keep your bees as calm as possible.
I have just talked about the fact that bees will respond negatively to noise but they’ll also get antsy if they’re shown the wrong colors.
Alright, they’re not bulls in a bullfight that’ll rage towards the red rag but they are more likely to be on edge with darker colors. That’s because most of the natural predators of bees are darker in color so they’ve adapted to be wary of any large, dark shapes.
It, therefore, makes much more sense to wear a bee suit that’s much lighter in color as this will cause much less alarm to the bees. While they may become irritated after some maintenance on the hive, your initial approach won’t give them any reason to feel threatened.
As I have already discussed, there are options when it comes to choosing a bee suit. You can go for a full suit that comes in either one piece or separates, or you might just opt for a bee jacket. Both are protective pieces of clothing and it’s really important to consider what feels best for you. Wearing something that doesn’t feel comfortable is just going to ruin the whole experience of beekeeping.
Some people feel a lot safer when wearing the entire bee suit whereas others find this quite restricting and even claustrophobic. It’s definitely a matter of personal choice but there are some things to keep in mind if you’re just starting out with apiculture.
For example, I’ve heard a lot of beginners saying that they prefer to wear the full bee suit as they feel that they’re more protected. If you’ve never taken care of bees before, the prospect of being stung can take a lot of the fun away from what should be an enjoyable hobby. What’s more, your movements and approach to the hive may not be as smooth and confident which can impact how the bees respond.
On the other hand, as you gain more experience, you will start to feel more confident which can reduce the risk of stings. At this point in your beekeeping journey, you may feel comfortable switching to a bee jacket. These are certainly a more convenient option as you won’t need to mess around getting into a full suit. Plus, your movements won’t be as restricted.
That said, if you are going to go for a beekeeping jacket, I would urge you to make sure that you choose something that is long enough. The last thing you want is something that rides up when you stretch or bend, exposing the bottom of your back to the bees. Moreover, I’d recommend making sure that you don’t wear low-cut pants with your jacket to further limit any skin that’s on display. You’ll be amazed at how bees can zone in on even the smallest piece of exposed skin when they’re angry.
There’s not much more for me to add about the all-in-one full bee suit than what I have already said. The main thing to keep in mind is that this is the only option that’s going to give you ultimate protection. You have full coverage of your entire body and far fewer gaps that the bees could get caught in or enter through.
However, a lot of people prefer using suits with separate pieces as it’s simply much more convenient. If you need to go and make a quick check of your hive then you’ll find it a lot easier to just slip on a separate as opposed to getting into a full-body suit. What’s more, if there is any damage to one of the components of your separate suit, you will only need to replace this. On the other hand, if the leg of your full bee suit is damaged, you’ll have to replace the whole thing rather than just getting new trousers.
Another reason that a lot of people favor a separate beekeeping suit is for sizing. If you’re anything like me, you need a different size on the top than you do on the bottom. Buying a full suit doesn’t allow you to take this into consideration so you may find that you have to wear something that isn’t entirely comfortable. Wearing separate pieces allows you to find the perfect fit.
Separate pieces can consist of the following:
- Pants; these are usually long to give full coverage of the legs and come with elasticated ankles which prevent any bees from flying in and stinging.
- A veiled hat or a hood can be slipped onto the head to protect the face.
- As I have already discussed, a bee jacket is ideal for quickly popping on when you need to make a quick check of your hive.
- Your bee suit might also include gloves which tend to be much longer, preventing any bees from getting into your sleeves. Again, buying gloves or gauntlets with an elasticated cuff is always going to be the best option. That said, I do know of a lot of beekeepers that wear disposable latex gloves. While these are not as protective, they do allow you to complete more fiddly tasks with ease.
- Boots are a really important part of your protective gear when tending to your bees. You will need a solid pair of boots or wellies but these should be paired with special leggings that can be worn with your suit in order to stop bees trying to get into your boots.
If you’ve been searching for beekeeping suits online then you’ll have seen the massive choice on offer. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it gives you lots of options but finding the right one can feel tricky. So, rather than trawling through every listing on the internet, why not check out my top picks?
Best Beekeeping Suit For Warm Climates
If you’re a first-time beekeeper then I think the RELIANCER beekeeping suit is an ideal piece for your starter kit. That’s because it’s an all-in-one suit that comes with everything you need including gloves and a veil.
The gloves are made from sheepskin and are therefore very comfortable and super durable. I love that the veil can be collapsed when not in use so you don’t need to worry about storing bulky pieces of equipment. What’s more, not an inch of your body will be exposed and the suit has elasticated cuffs and ankles for even greater protection.
There is one thing, however, that I would urge you to keep in mind and this largely applies to taller people. I’ve seen a lot of user reviews stating that the suit comes up short on those over 6 feet so, if you’re on the tall side, this might not be the right choice for you.
That said, this is perfect if you live in a warmer climate as this cotton blend is fully ventilated which will keep you cool as you work.
Best Beekeeping Suit For Best Sting Protection
Out of all of the beekeeping suits I have looked at during my research, the US Keepers suit definitely offers the best sting protection. That’s because of its strong brass zippers and triple-layer design but it achieves this without being uncomfortable to wear.
The US Keepers suit comes with a lightweight and ventilated full-body suit as well as a full veil and gloves. While the gloves are super protective, you should note that they’re quite bulky so may not be ideal for those fiddly tasks.
Another thing I loved about this suit was the number of pockets. We all know that you end up with a lot of bits and pieces so having eight pockets to store them when you’re working on your hive is a must.
The suit is ideal for men and women and comes in a very generous range of sizes. However, most buyers would agree that it’s best to size up by two sizes to allow for comfortable movement and any clothing underneath.
Best Separate Beekeeping Suit
For those of you that don’t want to purchase a full suit, this beekeeping jacket is the perfect base around which to build a separate suit. Just like the full suit I talked about before, this one is triple-layered offering excellent airflow and improved sting protection.
The Brutal beekeeping suit comes in a range of sizes however, I did notice that the sizes start from medium. In most cases, you’ll need to size up but the lack of a small for those with a much smaller build is disappointing.
Still, I wouldn’t call this a deal breaker since there are so many plus points to this beekeeping suit. For example, it’s incredibly well made from durable materials and has a self-supporting veil that can be collapsed when not in use. Moreover, the jacket comes with plenty of pocket space and, while it doesn’t have as many as the previous suit, those it does have are large and spacious.
Best Beekeeping Suit For Beginners
When you first start beekeeping, things can feel a little intimidating but by using a round veil, you get a much wider view of your surroundings and this can help you to feel more in control. That’s just one of the reasons I love this bee suit but there are many more.
For example, the Forest Beekeeping Supply bee suit is made from premium quality cotton meaning it’s one of the most durable on the market. However, a full cotton suit might not be suitable for very hot climates, even though the veil is fully aerated and the material is sweatproof.
Another reason I think that this is a great starter suit is because of the included hive tool and the number of pockets. I thought that was a really nice touch. Although I did notice that there are no gloves included so make sure you buy these separately.
Best High-End Beekeeping Suit
One of the first things you’re bound to notice about the Oz Armour suit is that it’s a lot more expensive than some of the others on this list. But don’t let that put you off; you get what you pay for and in this case, that means quality.
If you’re looking for a hardwearing and durable suit then you won’t find many others that live up to this one. It’s made with super strong zippers and durable yet breathable material so it’s also incredibly comfortable.
One thing I have noticed with some suits, like the RELIANCER suit I reviewed earlier, is that they’re not always suitable for tall people. However, the sizing with this suit is really generous and they have a very good range of sizes as well as a handy chart so you can find the perfect fit.
This one also comes with plenty of pocket space for all those beekeeping essentials and a breathable veil. However, this veil doesn’t give you as good a view as the round one I looked at earlier, which is something to keep in mind if you don’t like feeling enclosed.
While all of the beekeeping suits I have listed here come highly recommended, not all suits will be suitable for all people. That’s why it’s really important to assess the features and choose something that’s going to work well for you. Here are some of the most important factors to consider.
Beekeeping suits come in a wide range of materials and which you choose will depend on several things. For starters, you’re going to want to choose a bee suit whose fabric feels comfortable in your local climate. If you live somewhere very hot then going for a cotton suit, while ideal for locations with a mild climate, will likely make you feel far too warm. Although this is the best material if you’re looking for ultimate sting protection.
On the other hand, a ventilated beekeeping suit is also very good at stopping stings because it is made up of layers. There are three layers of synthetic material as well as a core made from foam which is designed to take the sting so you don’t have to.
You might go for a polycotton suit which is a mixture of polyester and cotton so you get the best of both natural and synthetic materials. On top of this, polycotton suits are among some of the most durable. However, if you live in a very warm climate then you may prefer to choose an aerated polycotton suit which also includes panels made from foam to improve airflow, keeping you cooler.
Regardless of the material, one of the most important components of any bee suit is the veil. Some have veils already attached whereas others come separately. Those that are attached to the main suit are generally thought of as being much more protective owing to the fact that there are fewer places for the bees to get in.
However, it really comes down to personal choice as well as comfort but there are a few different types of veil to consider.
Round veils are ideal if you don’t want your view to be restricted as they have one of the best fields of view out of all veil types. They’re also fantastic if you’re looking for something breathable and well-ventilated. If you don’t like the idea of your head being covered then this style will limit that discomfort.
Moreover, round bee suit veils have a good amount of space between the mesh and your face so you won’t feel as though you’re enclosed.
The round veil is normally worn over a hat and comes way down past the shoulders, offering excellent protection. It’s for this very reason that most apiarists prefer it.
If you’re keen to go for a more modern design then the fencing veil is a popular option. The great thing about this style is that there’s no need for a hat as it’s fitted with wires that help it to retain its shape.
Just like the round veil, the fencing veil does afford you a good field of vision and since you don’t have to cover your head, there’s no worry about messing your hair up if that’s something that matters to you.
For beekeepers that are limited when it comes to storage space, the square veil is a popular choice because it can be folded.
It’s also fantastic in warmer climates because of the way the mesh wraps around the sides of the veil which vastly improves airflow.
While the veil is usually worn with a type of hard hat, it is possible to pair it with any type of hat you see fit. Doing this may also lower the cost of the veil.
When you buy a beekeeping suit, one of the primary things you’re going to want to look for is something that’s lightweight. However, I cannot stress enough that being lightweight shouldn’t come at the expense of good quality materials.
If it does then you’ll feel any sting that the bees want to dish out and you may as well not be wearing a suit at all. By choosing something that is made from thick, durable material, you won’t feel the stings which are bound to happen as this is all part and parcel of beekeeping.
But it isn’t just the quality of the suit material that you have to consider, I’d also encourage you to think about the quality of things like cuff elastics and zippers. These need to be strong and should not create any gaps otherwise you may find yourself sharing the suit with a rogue bee.
You’ll also notice that beekeeping suits have a lot of pockets for storing your equipment but these could be a way for bees to get in if the suit isn’t well made. That’s why it’s essential to check the stitching and whether there are any gaps around the pockets that could serve as an entry point. Most good suits will benefit from double stitching.
Earlier, I talked about how separate suits can often be easier to size as you don’t need to have a one size fits all option. But this isn’t the only thing you should think about when it comes to how the suit fits.
For starters, you want to make sure that the suit isn’t too tight as this is going to restrict your movement. You need the suit to move with your body as you bend, twist, stretch and make other movements so factor this in when trying a suit on for size.
I’d strongly recommend taking your measurements before you start shopping and, where possible, try the suit on before committing. Some brands’ sizes will vary so if you’re buying online, it’s also a good idea to check the reviews as there will usually be some comments regarding how the suit fits.
Now that you know how to choose a beekeeping suit and have likely selected a favorite from my top picks above, it’s time to start beekeeping. But this hobby isn’t just about taking care of the bees, you also need to maintain your equipment and that includes looking after your beekeeping suit.
It’s really important to make sure you regularly inspect your suit. I would personally give it a once over every time you wear it just to make sure that there aren’t any tears or rips that have appeared since you last used it. The problem is that bees are pretty smart and determined little creatures who will easily find a hole and crawl into it.
Being outdoors, you’ll naturally need to wash your suit but it becomes even more important once the bees start stinging. You see when honey bees sting, they give off pheromones which alert others in the hive to a potential threat. This scent will attach to your suit and, if you don’t wash it, it’ll only cause the bees to become prematurely alarmed the next time you tend to them.
Finally, if you want your bee suit to stand the test of time then you’ll need to make sure it’s protected between uses. It’s best to hang the suit upright when you’re not wearing it and make sure that there aren’t any sharp objects nearby that could tear it. After washing, it is possible to put a cotton suit in the dryer on a low heat but it’s normally better to air dry them.
Owning a good quality beekeeping suit is one of the best ways to protect yourself when taking care of your hive. There are lots of styles and materials to choose from so you can find a bee suit that perfectly meets your needs.
Check out my top picks for some of the best beekeeping suits on the market and don’t forget to keep my shopping tips in mind to make life that little bit easier.