The aim of this post is to give novice beekeepers an insight into what is available and what they should look for.
There is a huge range of clothing available for the beekeeper today. It is important to take time, and consider what you need and what you feel comfortable with.
Things to consider before purchase
You may not have worked with bees very much and still deciding whether beekeeping is a hobby you wish to pursue. There is also the not insignificant costs involved in setting up your first hive to be considered
This can lead to a temptation to cut costs by buying cheap clothing. I strongly advise against this as it is possible to buy good quality clothing, which will last, at very reasonable prices.
Novice beekeepers can be the hardest to advise when it comes to clothing. Usually they do not want to spend a great deal especially if they are undecided on continuing with the hobby. A common reaction therefore is to buy the cheapest available. Doing this though runs a big risk. Beekeeping clothing made from thin material may be inadequate to stop bees from stinging through the material. In addition, poor zips, poor stitching and bad design can all lead to you having a very bad experience with bees. I have known many that have turned their backs on beekeeping as a result of not being choosy enough when purchasing their clothing.
Sometimes you see experienced beekeepers not wearing gloves or a veil when working their bees, I strongly advise you not to copy them until you know exactly what you are doing and how to handle bees.
It is important to note whichever style of clothing you decide on, always wear a stout pair of trousers (especially with tunics and jackets) and always wear wellington boots to prevent bees crawling up your trouser leg. I also advise wearing leather gloves and forearm protection.
When you first open a hive containing perhaps 50,000 bees, confidence is paramount and you can only have that confidence if you are confident your clothing will give you maximum protection.
This is usually the cheapest style and should be considered the minimum required to approach a hive. Generally, though not always, there is no neck zip so the veil is stitched directly to the tunic. This makes cleaning the tunic very difficult.
Depending on price these tunics can be made of very lightweight material and can be awkward to put on and take off.
If you do decide on a tunic, check that the veil is made of good material, and is not prone to tearing easily. Check the elastic around the bottom of the tunic and arms is strong and keeps the tunic snug against your body.
Better quality ones, especially if they have a detachable veil, are useful to have in the apiary for visitors.
Various styles are available and although usually more expensive than tunics are in my view better buys. All have front zips so putting on and taking off is easier. They have detachable veils so machine washing of the jacket is possible. Veils should always be removed prior to machine washing.
Things to look for in the jacket are
Is the material sufficiently thick enough to prevent stings?
Is the stitching sound using quality thread? You don’t want seams or stitching coming undone.
Are the zips of good quality and run easily without sticking?
Do the veil zips cross over under the chin if zipped correctly there should be no bee entry points, – believe me if there is a way in they will find it and it’s very unsettling seeing a stray bee on the inside of your veil!
Check the elastic at the wrist and bottom of the jacket is strong and keeps the jacket closed again preventing bee entry.
Elastic thumb loops are usually standard on most jackets.
Is the veil made of quality material that combines both strength with clarity of vision? When wearing the veil does it naturally fall away from the face? Most veils naturally become more flexible with use but you need a veil which has sufficient space between veil and head at all times. Some beekeepers will wear a hat or baseball cap under the veil to ensure this space is there at all times.
All in one suit
As the name implies this combines jacket and trousers in one.
It is probably the first choice for the novice beekeeper as it affords the best protection.
In addition to the points made for jackets.
Make sure the trousers have ankle zips – these are a considerable when taking the suit on and off.
There should be ankle elastic loops and I find it useful if there is a two-way front zip.
There are a number of veils on the market, the most common styles are the hoop veil and the fencing style of veil. Providing they are of sound construction and mad of good material the choice is down to individual preference.
I would recommend good quality leather gloves. These should be made from a supple leather and when worn should fit snugly. You do not want gloves which clumsy longer than your fingers as it makes handling frames in your hive harder and you can be more clumsy which can annoy the bees. Your gloves will get dirty and they are not the easiest things to clean. I suggest using a pair of the disposable latex gloves over the leather. This serves two purposes. One they keep the gloves cleaner. Two the can be changed and thrown away between hive or apiary inspections so helping with disease control.
Some prefer rubber gloves or just latex gloves as sense of touch is not impaired as much. I find these do not offer the same against stings.level of protection as ;leather but on the plus side they are much easier to keep clean.
If you do decide to use these type of gloves I would advise wearing gauntlets to protect your wrist and forearm
With all clothing there are other factors which influence price like number of pockets, knee pads, thickness of material but hopefully this post will give you an idea of what to look for.
Looking for quality beekeeping clothing at very reasonable prices, our clothing range can be found here
4 thoughts on “Clothing suggestions for the Novice Beekeeper”
Mi Martin, Thank you for all your tips on the best apparel for bee keeping. Have always been drawn to keeping bees but have left it too late as don’t think they will let me here in the Retirement Village.
My niece in England is a bee keeper and I hope she uses all the correct apparel. She has been keeping bees for a number of years, so I guess she should know. Will check with her and get her to read this post.
With the shortage of bees, worldwide, I think more and more people should be going in for beekeeping. We have been on the look out here for pure honey as some of what we think is honey is apparently adulterated syrup and sugar water.
Shocking state of affairs.
Thank you for your comments. Its a shame you cannot keep bees at your retirement home – is there a neighbouring farmer you could ask? Many farmers are only too happy to have pollinators near their crops. I think if you can get honey from a reputable apairy you will find it to be pure – usually you can tell by the taste and how clear it is. I would be interested to hear if your neice has tried our Janmart brand clothing and her views if she has.
Jan mart quality beekeeping clothing is really the best. I usually see my brother smoking out bees without the beekeeping clothing and they chase him away running him off to bushes and that is when i got to realize that this game is really dangerous without the beekeeping clothing. My question would be is there a way of maybe anything to remove end ensure that there are no bees in your back that can cause danger when you get home with the clothes?
Thank you for your comments. Regarding taking bees back home with you. This has happened to me many times. Now i either use a soft bristled bee brush with a home made handle extention (use like a back scratcher) or brushing against a bush will usually dislodge them. Happy beekeeping.