Bee Protective Clothing

The Joy of Bee Protective Clothing

The keeping of bees is a fascinating and productive hobby. Bees perform a vital role in agriculture by being the prime pollinators for various fruit and nut trees, sunflowers and even coconuts and cucumbers. The bees are highly protective of their hive, and therefore people require bee protective clothing during maintenance of the hives or harvesting the honey.

The sting of the common bee utilised for honey production (Apis mellifera) is venomous, but it causes only mild irritation in humans unless it triggers an allergic reaction. The danger arises when working with swarms of bees, whose combined stings may inject sufficient venom into the beekeeper to cause severe discomfort or even death. Therefore, wearing protective clothing designed for bees is essential for health and safety reasons when working with bees. We also recommend a hat and veil even when dealing with the Australian stingless bees (Tetragonula carbonaria).

Tips Regarding Beekeeping Clothing

The practical beekeeping outfit consists of gloves, a hooded suit or jacket, or a hat and veil. Protection of the face and neck is essential when working with bees, as these areas are the most sensitive to stings. A hat and veil are thus considered the minimum protective clothing worn by apiarists. Gloves are a good idea, especially for novices or those with sensitive hands. However, some experienced beekeepers prefer working without gloves, as they feel it inhibits their ability for delicate touch when working inside the hive or with the bees themselves.

  • The suit must be comfortable, as working with several tens of hives can take a few hours. Traditionally the suit is made from uncoloured cotton, as this natural material “breathes” while at the same time being a closed fabric. The suit needs to be entirely closed and without openings to prevent even a single bee from entering and causing mayhem.
  • The myth exists that the choice of uncoloured, pale cotton is because it is the inverse colour of badgers, the bees’ main predator, but has been dispelled by the discovery that bees see the world in the ultra-violet range of the light spectrum and is mainly attracted and influenced by scent. This means protective suits can actually be any colour, even soft pink, and that the added perfume in the washing soap is an important factor to keep in mind.
  • Coupled with this, stings in the clothes and gloves continue to release the alarm pheromones and can trigger aggressive behaviour in bees, even when no danger is present to the hive. Keep your suits reasonable clean and don’t use strong smelling detergents or softeners and we recommend that you wash your gloves in a vinegar solution. Remove the hood prior to washing.

A Short Buyer’s Guide For Oz Armour

As I use the Oz Armour triple ventilated jacket my self and haven’t been stung through it in 5 years; that is what I stock. I am very happy then to recommend the locally developed Oz Armour range for adults and children:

  • The protective clothes are made from the finest quality heavy-duty fabric and offer unrivalled sting protection while still being breathable and comfortable during the summer. The designs and materials all undergo stringent safety testing, which is why these proudly Australian products are renowned by beekeepers worldwide.
  • Oz Armour beekeeping clothes are available as full suits and jackets, made from 3-layer or 2-layer mesh for a lightweight, ventilated protection, or a heavy-duty poly-cotton blend that will provide many years of protection. Options for head protection are the round-brim hat and veil and the fencing veil, with durable metallic mesh, on both the suits and the jackets. Special mesh pants and water-resistant poly-cotton suits and jackets are also available.
  • Design features of the Oz Armour bee suit include leg-high zippers for easy dressing, adjustable Velcro and elastic straps at the wrists and ankles for comfortable yet secure closure of these entry-points and reinforced pockets and knee pads. The jackets have detachable headgear and feature reinforced twill tape stitching for years of service. Zippers have cloth overlaps for added protection.

Debzzz Beekeeping Paradise carries stock of all the essential beekeeping gear for enthusiasts, farmers, and experienced apiarists and what we don’t have in our shop, we can order. We ship beekeeping products to anywhere in Australia. In addition, we are always available for advice to novices and hands-on mentoring for your journey to the wonderful world of honeybees. Contact us for an appointment.

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