Beekeeping Suit: Your Beekeeper Armor
You need a beekeeping suit to protect yourself from bee stings. In this lesson, you’ll learn why your beekeeping suit is the most crucial piece of equipment you will have as a beekeeper and how to properly use it. You’ll also discover different types of bee suits along with our recommended suit.
Do I Need To Wear a Bee Suit?
Regardless of where you are in your beekeeping journey, you'll likely be tempted to do an in-depth inspection or extract honey from your hives without a bee suit at some point.
Let's be honest, getting suited up is time-consuming, not to mention beekeeping suits can be uncomfortable and cumbersome at times. Suits can be expensive, aren't the most flattering, and are difficult (if not impossible) to repair if the material tears.
In light of these challenges, you might be tempted to ask, “do I have to wear my bee suit?”
It's surprising how often we get asked if beekeepers need to use their suit for inspecting or extracting. As crazy as it sounds, we get these kinds of questions all the time.
Our answer to this is: YES!
You should always use your suit when you do anything more than a casual inspection (e.g. lifting the lid to check for activity). If you don't believe us, check out these videos that show the 25,000+ reasons why you should always wear your suit when going in deep:
*Yes, we know that these are wasps in the videos, but the principle still applies.
However, just because you need to wear your bee suit when going in deep doesn't mean you don't have options. There are many different types of bee suits that you can choose from.
What Are The Different Types of Beekeeping Suits?
We’re going to look at the two most common types of bee suits in this lesson. The two most common types of beekeeping suits are as follows:
At face value, these two suits may seem very similar and even interchangeable.
There are a few important differences to note, however. The two biggest differences between these suits are:
We’ll start by taking a look at the difference in protection.
Comparison: What’s The Difference in Protection?
When you perform deep inspections on your hive, it’s very likely that you will get stung even if you have your bee suit on. If you’re going to get into beekeeping, you will get stung at some point. It’s just the name of the game.
Bee suits do not provide perfect protection. What they will do is protect you from the majority of bee stings. How much protection you will get varies with the type of suit you have.
The beekeeping smock is similar to a full-body bee suit, but it only covers the upper half of your body. Many beekeepers that use smocks rely on heavy jeans or other thick materials to cover their lower extremities.
Here's what a smock looks like:
Full-Body Beekeeping Suit
In contrast, the full-body suit covers your entire body including your waist and legs. The full-body bee suit is designed to give you maximum protection against stings (though again it’s not a 100% guarantee).
Here's what a full-body suit typically looks like:
Both suit types typically include a hat and veil that will zip together with your suit to protect you from bees trying to get into your veil.
In all reality, either of these suit types will give you the protection you need as long as you wear heavy pants of some sort (or multiple layers) to protect your legs when wearing the smock.
That said, the preferred choice for most beekeepers is to use the full body suit because they want the maximum protection possible. This is especially helpful if you have any allergic reactions to bee stings.
At Bear Country Bees we use exclusively full-body suits and recommend them to all of our beekeepers. We also include a suit as part of our Starter Kit for exactly this reason.
Comparison: What’s The Difference in Price?
Beekeeping suits can be a moderately expensive part of a beekeeper’s toolset so it’s important that you know the differences in cost and utility.
We always recommend investing in a good sturdy suit because buying a used or cheap suit will usually lead to more stings and a shorter lifespan of the suit.
The table below outlines the two main types of suits along with a general price range for good, quality suits:
Full-Body Beekeeping Suit
A good solid beekeeping smock will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 - 55. As of this writing, we sell ours for $45.
If you spend less than this, there’s no guarantee on the quality of the suit you’re getting. If you spend a lot more than that, you’re not likely getting any extra value for the money.
For a high-quality beekeeping suit, you can expect to spend $75 - $100. As of this writing, we sell ours for $85. The same pricing principles apply to the full body suit as well as the smock.
The Final Piece of Your Bee Suit: Beekeeping Gloves
Beekeeping gloves are another essential part of a beekeeping suit. However, gloves are almost always sold separately because they typically need to be replaced more often than suits.
Most companies will sell the gloves separately so that you don't have to buy a new suit every time you need to replace your gloves.
At Bear Country Bees, we recommend using goatskin beekeeping gloves because they are more comfortable and more durable than other materials.
This is what goatskin gloves look like:
Goatskin gloves will usually cost between $15-30 but we include a pair with our Starter Kit. As of this writing, we sell ours for $22.
We do recommend purchasing an extra pair of gloves so that you have a backup in case you wear a hole in your primary pair.
As a quick review, here are the principles we’ve covered in this lesson:
- You should always wear a beekeeping suit when you do in-depth hive inspections
- Beekeeping suits are not a 100% guarantee against bee stings
- Smocks and full-body suits are the two most common types of beekeeping suits
- Either type of suit will provide protection, but the full-body suit will protect you better
- Invest in a solid suit so that you can be assured of good quality before you’re getting stung
- Beekeeping gloves are sold separately from your bee suit
In the next lesson, we’ll be exploring the most versatile tool a beekeeper has in their tool belt: the hive tool.
Let’s take a look.