If you are a beginner beekeeper you most certainly do want to invest in a beekeeping suit. If you are purchasing a starter kit, chances are one is included with your beekeeping supplies. However, it is best to check the details. Often the extra supplies only include a veiled hat and gloves. That’s just not enough protection for a novice beekeeper.
Now, it goes without saying that eventually every beekeeper is going to get stung. That may not necessarily be a part of your great beehive plans, but that is indeed the reality. And getting stung is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you may actually want to get stung a time or two every season.
Whenever a human being gets stung by a bee the antibodies of the person react to the antigen within the bee’s venom. Getting stung a few times will strengthen the beekeeper’s resistance so reactions and irritations will not be as severe. However, getting stung a couple of times is one thing. Getting swarmed and stung all over is another. That’s why you want to have a beekeeping suit.
A beekeeping suit not only protects the beekeeper, but it also protects the bee. Whenever a bee stings someone, the barb on the stinger stays in the skin which results in the stinger being ripped from the bee’s body. This means a gruesome and horrible death for the offending bee. When a bee’s stinger enters fabric, the chances of this being a life-ending event for the bee is greatly reduced. Fabric is more forgiving than human skin.
The simplest and most effective as far as protection is concerned is a single protective coverall style suit that zips up all the way through the veil. This type of beekeeping suit is a hoodie-style with a veil. Often shoppers are concerned that a soft hoodie does not offer the same protection to the head as a helmet. However, many testimonials swear by this style and beekeepers say they have never been stung in the head through the nylon fabric. Proponents of this style of suit also claim that they are cooler and easier to get on and off.
As a novice it is only natural that when you find yourself in the midst of your first swarm you will be a bit nervous. Unfortunately the bees will smell your fear and show you no mercy. So, go with the full suit. As your confidence builds and you are more relaxed when managing your hive, you will find that the bees are much calmer. You may then elect to only wear the gloves and veil. But, for starters, go with the full beekeeping suit when making out your beekeeping plans.
Even when you’ve gained enough experience to no longer consider yourself a newbie, you will still find plenty of use for a full beekeeping suit. There will be times when heavy-duty hive work will be necessary. You will be happy that you have a full suit among your beekeeping supplies.
And, since beekeepers are not psychic, you can just never know what kind of mood your bees might be in. Although they may be used to you and you may be used to them, they might still be mad as all get out over a storm that passed through the day before. Who knows? Needless to say, you could show up at the hive and the bees could be like, “Oh no. No way. Not today. We will be having NONE of that.” Yes, that will be the day you need a full beekeeping suit.
The most important thing is to be comfortable around the bees not matter what the situation. If you are perfectly happy in the full suit, by all means wear it. If you are confident around the bees and want to try the daring beekeeping approach with less protection, go for it. But always use the veil to protect your face. Even if you don’t want to wear the gloves, keep them handy. You may not mind the sensation of bees tickling the back of your hand but sometimes the gloves are just helpful in handling the hive itself.
So, as you scratch out your beekeeping plans and you come to the conundrum of whether or not to include a full coverage beekeeping suit in your beekeeping supplies list, the answer is, “Yes.” So just do it. You won’t regret it. The first time you encounter the bees in a full-blown bee tantrum, you’ll be so glad you did.