Updated on April 5th, 2022
As we talked about in Do Honey Bees Sting? Yes, They Do and What You Should Do About It, you need to protect yourself from the dangers of being stung. It is especially important to protect your face and eyes. ALWAYS wear a veil.
I know there are tons of videos online of beekeepers wearing little, or no, protection. These are mostly very experienced beekeepers who’ve adapted to the stings. They also stay calm and tend not to do things that will cause the bees to be overly defensive.
As a newbie keeper, you’re probably going to be a little anxious when you start handling bees.
Wear protective gear when you start out. Later on when you’re more experienced you can decide how careful you want to be in this regard.
These are our suggestions for the best protective gear for beginning beekeepers.
BeekeepingForNewbies.com is owned by Firefly Fields, LLC (“Firefly”), a Wyoming limited liability company. Firefly is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.
Bee Jackets and Suits
Economy Protective Clothing
When we started out we got an “economy” bee jacket. We started out with one jacket that we took turns wearing. Eventually we got a second one so we can work together.
Key features of this jacket are:
- A zippered, removable self-supporting fencing veil
- Elastic at the waist keeps the jacket tight at the bottom to exclude bees, plus
- Elastic and Velcro® to pull the sleeves shut at the wrist.
The hood has flaps that close tight with Velcro® to seal up openings around the zipper. The hood is large enough to accommodate a cap and room to wear glasses. I usually put on the jacket near the bee yard and zip the hood closed as I get closer.
We’ve never been stung through the jacket so it gets the job done. You can find this Economy Bee Jacket you can find here on Amazon. There are more expensive jackets available but this jacket has served us well for years now.
If you want more protection, you can also get an Economy Beekeeper Suit on Amazon with the same type of veil for a little more money. Though I’ve gotten the occasional sting through a pant leg or a sock, I am personally more comfortable wearing just a jacket in the heat of summer.
Ventilated Jackets and Suits
Despite our satisfaction with our economy jackets, a more expensive ventilated suit would be more comfortable in the high heat of summer. Ultra Breeze jackets and suits are highly regarded among beekeepers.
Key features of the Ultra Breeze products are:
- A roomy, zipper-attached self-supporting fencing veil,
- Brass zippers,
- Durable ventilated fabric layers of polyester or polyester/vinyl, and
- Elastic closures at wrist, waist, and ankles.
Ultra Breeze clothing is more
If you plan to work with children, a child’s suit from Amazon is a good idea to protect them.
Bee equipment is easier to maneuver bare-handed (don’t wear rings). But often I am much more comfortable wearing gloves, particularly if the bees are a bit agitated.
We have been using these economy, vented cowhide gloves from Mann Lake for years. They are a bit thick for handling equipment but I have never been stung through them. They have long, ventilated sleeves with elastic closures that extend over the forearm of the jacket. Once you get used to them, they aren’t too bad to work with. I’ve never been stung through a glove.
Other excellent options are available on Amazon:
If you wear just the jacket, you can to take some extra precautions.
Tuck your pant legs into your socks (I don’t wear shorts though Melanie has) or close up the pant leg with duct tape or a strap. I generally don’t do this but sometimes I will tuck my pants into a boot.
I wear Muck Boots from Amazon, especially if the ground is damp or a little muddy. I find them comfortable to work in and keep my feet dry.
Also, after about 7 years of use, the sole of one boot came free. I found this simple repair technique online and fixed the boot in no time. Maybe I’ll get another 7 years out of them.
We also keep a supply of Benadryl on hand to reduce the impact if we are stung.