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Bee Keeping Suit Suggestions?

 
Posts: 16
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Hi All,

I put my order in for my first nuc and pick it up in spring.  I have been searching online looking at bee keeping suits but am really unsure what to get and if it matters.  I have seen full suits range from $70 up to $200.  Can I get some suggestions on what might be the best thing to get, what to stay away from or suggested brands and/or designs?

Thanks!
 
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First of all I made a nuc from recycled ply and planed wood for free and I will published the plans in the forthcoming Permaculture magazine #99. It is so easy to make and saves you lots of money longer term. I am going to use them (I have 2 and am about to make the 3rd) as bait hives to catch swarms. #99 will reach the USA in March 2019.

I also make my main hives from flatpacks. It is good to do this as you really get to know why hives are designed as they are.

Bee suits: you get what you pay for. There are lots of cheap Chinese made suits around. They are OK but don't last long if you are working hives regularly. I researched the best ones with quality cotton (doesn't get so hot as mixed cotton and synthetics) and good quality mesh for the veil. The best in the UK which is beautifully made is by Sherriff - but at a price. I then found one in my size on eBay for a fraction of the price. Almost new it fits really well unlike my cheaper one which I have now passed on to my bee helper (husband!).
 
gardener
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A cheap & effective solution is use a veil & gloves with a set of Tyvek painters overalls. Brushy Mountain Bees has several types of suits.

One of my apiaries is very remote & far from medical help. For that reason I wear a full suit with attached hood. Heavy duty cotton because I don't like plastic anything. It does get hot during summer. Not much need to open hives during peak of summer though. I rarely open any hive except right before & right after winter.
 
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I use a bee jacket that includes a hood, and gloves. This works well for me. Bottom is protected with pants socks, shoes .

I've never used a full body suit so I can't comment on them.
 
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I have carhart overalls and a coat and that's what I use because....well it works and I already have it. Just bought a bee hat and wear my regular work gloves and my wellies.

So it's protected me perfectly EXCEPT, I opened the hive, checked, etc. Stayed outside waiting for the bees to leave me alone so I could go in and take off my gear. Go in, take off the hat and gloves. Pull my arm out of my coat and BAM. Bee had been hanging out on the arm of my coat and I jammed that bee stinger right into my hand when I pulled my arm out. My hand and arm swole to the elbow. Crazy! A white suit may have enabled us to see that it was chillin on me.

 
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I have an army surplus bug hat thing like this, would it be adequate for bees?
assuming I have the rest of me covered...
 
Mike Barkley
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The bug hat would work fine as long as the brim of the hat is wide enough to keep the material off your face. Especially around the eyes. I would suggest tucking the excess into your collar so they can't crawl inside. THAT will make a bee sting every time. They panic when they get trapped under clothing.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Mike Barkley: Thank you! Yeah, the brim is wide enough. And tucking makes sense.
:D
 
Sylvia Cox
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions!!  Think I'm gonna get a higher end jacket and veil and I can do jeans and such for the rest.  
 
pollinator
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wayne fajkus wrote:I use a bee jacket that includes a hood, and gloves. This works well for me. Bottom is protected with pants socks, shoes .

I've never used a full body suit so I can't comment on them.




I do the same Hooded bee jacket and goat skin gloves. Rubber bands around the ankles as 'extra', but the bees don't go down low. The best protection is to not barge in the hive. I think of the hive as a woman's womb, so I don't go in 'just to see': It is very disruptive. I have a purpose when I go in.
Extra tip: don't leave your gloves in the garage or anywhere mice have access. It sound like just common sense, but ask me how I know ;-)
 
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When I kept bees I had a bee jacket with hat and veil. I wore leather work gloves, jeans and boots. Most of my hives didn’t really need even that — they were pretty mellow. I had only one aggressive hive (which I re-queened, of course). A full bee suit is overkill.
 
steward
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Sometimes, I put on a full bee suit, even if all I am doing in weeding the garden near the apiary. I really dislike getting stung. Not that a bee suit prevents stings, but it  greatly minimizes them.

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Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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A wrong move when carrying a heavy super can happen really fast. Although the meanness has been bred out of our bees, it makes sense to be ready if they charge.
I once was moving a hive in a more sheltered place, and since it was late in the year, I figured. Nawh, they'll stay in. Too cold outside... and I didn't wear protection. Well, the hive slipped off the contraption and I got my comeuppance. I lit for the house, and even in the cold, the house was not far enough to deter them from pursuing me. I ran to the end of the property and they quit when I stuck my whole body in a gracious white pine.
I had to make a wide circle before I could reach the house because just backtracking, I was meeting some mad bees.
I sprayed my whole suit and gloves with Beequick. I went back and they were still pretty irked but once the brood box was level again and I was able to put the rest of the boxes in place, they quickly quieted down.
My other reason is : I'm vain and I think I look smarter without bee stings. Also, because I'm getting more than pleasantly plump, I like wearing my "sweating lodge" in the summer to lose a few pounds.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:I ran to the end of the property and they quit when I stuck my whole body in a gracious white pine.



My apiary is next to a grove of juniper trees. They have become one of my favorite beekeeping accessories ever. It's so easy to back into a juniper tree whenever I wish to be forgotten by the bees.

 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:I ran to the end of the property and they quit when I stuck my whole body in a gracious white pine.



My apiary is next to a grove of juniper trees. They have become one of my favorite beekeeping accessories ever. It's so easy to back into a juniper tree whenever I wish to be forgotten by the bees.



Love it! Junipers are a little "stiff needlely" though. The white pine has those long *soft* bristles that won't poke me in a panic. It is like a gentle brush you use to remove the bees from a honey super. as a matter of fact, in a pinch, I used a new young branch to move the bees off the frames when I had forgotten my bee brush. [bad me]
 
Myrth Gardener
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LOL!

I took a hive from a beekeeper who I thought was just unusually afraid of bees. He had the full suit just for his one hive. He decided to get out of bees. I took them home. They were a bit pissy when I loaded them into the truck, even though it was almost dark out - late twilight.

I got them situated at the edge of my apiary without significant incident. But then one day I was just doing hive checks, with my veil and jacket, but just a regular pair of jeans. My bees were all mellow and pleasant. But as I approached my new hive, I heard that alarmed buzz. Odd. I used a bit of smoke on them to calm them and then opened the hive to check on them. I smelled that odor they give off when angry. They poured out in an all-out attack. They stung me repeatedly through my jeans. Smoke had no effect on them. I closed the hive back up and ran down a hill and into the woods, thinking the underbrush would dissuade them. They pursued me through the woods, undeterred by the underbrush, and down the ravine. I headed for the creek, and finally water was the savior.

I went to the house and promptly ordered a new queen. That was the only healthy queen I ever dispatched in favor of a tamer one. But I had a new understanding of how the newbie beekeeper lost interest in the hobby. A hive like that would make many people give up if they thought all bees are like that! Africanized bees aren’t in the area, but I talked to the president of our local beekeepers association about them and he wondered if they were Africanized, as the newbie had ordered a nuc from a southern supplier. Fortunately, the hive accepted the new queen and once she got to producing daughters the hive calmed down to normal.
 
Mike Barkley
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Those do sound like they might have been Africanized bees. That would be a heck of a way to start learning about beekeeping.



 
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Mike Barkley wrote:Those do sound like they might have been Africanized bees. That would be a heck of a way to start learning about beekeeping.



Bees don't need to be africanised to be hyper-aggressive. I live in the UK and for two summers in a row had to deal with horrible colonies. My attempts at requeening were dreadful (it can work, but it takes a couple of months for the generations of bees from the old queen to die). I ended up killing a whole colony as I couldn't afford the risk of them stinging neighbours. I keep bees in the grounds of a school.

I got a LOT of grief about it, and loads of people saying things like "I would have taken them and requeened them" or "Why didn't you just move them away?". It was my judgement that those bees were simply too dangerous to keep. I've had bees for the best part of 20 years and never known anything like it.

On one of the initial attempts to requeen them I took 100+ stings in 2 minutes THROUGH my full suit.

Beekeepers have an obligation to not keep dangerous colonies. Not only are they a direct danger to others, but they also mate with other colonies and spread aggressive genes through the area.
 
Michael Cox
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When choosing protective clothing for beekeeping it helps to understand HOW the protection works.

Bee stings are viciously sharp, and can pierce through pretty much any fabric



So the protection does not come from strength of the fabric, but from ensuring that the stinger cannot reach all the way to your skin. If you look at photos of beekeepers you will see that most suits look quite baggy. This ensures an air gap so if the bee stings the suit it cannot reach the beekeeper. Points of weakness are where the fabric pulls tight - shoulders, arms when stretching, thighs when squatting etc...

I frequently wear just lightweight shorts and t-shirt under my suit; unless I know that I'm going to be dealing with a hot hive or causing a major disturbance.
 
Myrth Gardener
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Michael Cox wrote:

Mike Barkley wrote:Those do sound like they might have been Africanized bees. That would be a heck of a way to start learning about beekeeping.



Bees don't need to be africanised to be hyper-aggressive. I live in the UK and for two summers in a row had to deal with horrible colonies. My attempts at requeening were dreadful (it can work, but it takes a couple of months for the generations of bees from the old queen to die). I ended up killing a whole colony as I couldn't afford the risk of them stinging neighbours. I keep bees in the grounds of a school.

I got a LOT of grief about it, and loads of people saying things like "I would have taken them and requeened them" or "Why didn't you just move them away?". It was my judgement that those bees were simply too dangerous to keep. I've had bees for the best part of 20 years and never known anything like it.

On one of the initial attempts to requeen them I took 100+ stings in 2 minutes THROUGH my full suit.

Beekeepers have an obligation to not keep dangerous colonies. Not only are they a direct danger to others, but they also mate with other colonies and spread aggressive genes through the area.



If my evil hive had not accepted the new queen, I’d have dispatched the entire hive. And, if my apiary had not been isolated on my farm, I’d have dispatched them too - IMMEDIATELY- as I agree - one cannot endanger others with dangerous hyper-aggressive bees. That hive was the only HORRIBLE hive I have ever dealt with. Mostly over the years my bees have responded to my good calm vibes with calmness and we’ve gotten along fine - I work calm and slow and Italian honey bees respond well to that and generally don’t become aggressive. Those aggressive bees, however, were nasty, nasty bees. Those, I had to wear a bee suit to mow anywhere around the apiary. Those, I had to wear *loose* jeans tucked into boots. Those were not veil and a t-shirt bees. Those bees, had I kept that queen, would have inspired me to buy a full bee suit, pants and everything included.
 
Mike Barkley
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haha yea I had a colony from hell a couple years ago. They originally came from Georgia (where the Africanized bee is gaining ground) along with two other nucs. They were all set up in entirely different places. Two were never a problem. The third was mostly calm until some magic moment when they suddenly became very aggressive. Never did figure out exactly what their hot button was. They are no longer in the gene pool. I need tough bees, especially at that remote location, but those were downright mean. RIP.



 
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