Updated on June 29th, 2020
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.
When we started out we got an “economy” bee jacket (pictured atop this article) . We started out with one jacket that we took turns wearing. Eventually we got a second one so we can work together.
This jacked comes with a zippered, removable hood or self-supporting veil. Elastic at the waist keeps the jacket tight at the bottom to exclude bees. Velcro and elastic 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 we 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.
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.
Our gloves have long, ventilated sleeves 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. These kinds of gloves are available on Amazon.
They have elastic openings so they seal tight against your jacket. And the ventilated sleeves make them a little more comfortable in the heat.
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.