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Beekeeping Suits – How to Choose the Best One

Not every beekeeper chooses to wear a full suit. But there is no shame in enjoying the protection that a beekeeper suit offers. In fact, it may be one of the most important items you buy for beekeeping. Don’t let the “nay-sayers” keep you from feeling relaxed why working your bees. Use these tips to choose the best beekeeping suits for you and your friends.

Cartoon image of a beekeeper with no beekeeping suit only a veil image.

Best Beekeeper Suits for Beginners

One of the first questions asked by new beekeepers is – Do I need a beekeeping suit? Perhaps? But, you have many protection options to choose from and a full suit is not the only option.

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Many beekeepers – especially those new to honey bees, enjoy the protection and feeling of security provided by beekeeping suits or other types of bee clothing. 

Do Bee Suits Really Work?

Most quality made beekeeper suits in combination with gentle hive inspections will do nicely. If the bees are feeling very defensive, no bee suit offers 100% protection.

Searching for the Sting Proof Bee Suit

Yea… good luck with that one. Beekeeping suits vary in the degree of protection that they offer. No suit that I know of is 100% sting proof.

Choosing the best conditions for hive inspections, using slow gentle movements and proper use of the bee smoker – all contribute to the effectiveness of your beekeeper protective clothing.

Selection of beekeeper suits choosing the best beekeeping suits image.

What Kind of Beekeeper Suit Do You Need?

“Whoa Nelly.” Before you head off looking for the sale sheets, you have a bit more thinking to do.

What kind of bee suit do you really need? Some of that is up to personal preference but you should be able to find something that fits your budget and style.

Now, the search for the best beekeeping suit begins. Alas, the confusion also begins because you will find hundreds of beekeeping suits to choose from. 

How Much Do Beekeeping Suits Cost?

With the popularity of beekeeping, supplies have become easier to find. That’s a good thing overall-as it gives the consumer more choices.

However, many of the bee suits offered online and by major bee suppliers are cheaply made and will not last very long without special care. Some will seem expensive and some will be cheaper. Maybe, too cheap to be true???

A well made beekeeping suit should cost more and last for many years. But, not every needs to buy an expensive beekeeping suit.

If you are not sure beekeeping will “be your thing”, try a cheaper suit. Just understand that it will probably not last for many seasons.

Are all Beekeeping Suits White?

What color are the best beekeeping suits? Are they always white?  No, beekeeping suits are traditionally white but they don’t have to be.

When feeling threatened, honey bee colonies become defensive. Over the years, beekeepers realized that angry bees are more attracted to dark colors. 

That white or light-colored suit is sounding better and better – isn’t it. Any suit that is a light-color will be fine.

No matter which color you choose, it won’t stay clean for long anyway! I will say that you do not want to wear black in the bee yard. Why would you want to look like a bear?

** Personal Story – A few years back a magazine was doing an article on me and my bees. They sent a photographer to take pictures in the bee yard. The young man arrived for the photo session. He got out of his little sports car dressed in tight black jeans and a black tshirt. My first thought – “Hmm, this is not good.” I had a spare suit so things turned out well.

How Should Your Bee Suit Fit?

The bee yard is not the place to be over concerned about fashion.  The last thing you want is a tight fitting bee suit or jacket.   

It is a great idea to try the beekeeping suit on if possible or order from a source that will allow returns.

Your beekeeping suit or beekeeping jacket should fit loosely. Think loose – but not too loose. The fit must allow easy movement and cover all of your “essential parts” when you bend over.

Remember, you will not be spending a lot of time standing still and straight in this suit.  This is a great time to “say no to crack”.

A roomy fit allows you to bend, twist and work in the bee yard during hive inspections.

Some of the Best Bee Suit Options

Fortunately, beekeeping suits are available in a variety of materials and styles, so you can still have a little bit of fashion flare when working your bees. 

Cotton, cotton polyester blends, ventilated beekeeping suits and nylon ones are some of the more popular materials available. Different hood/veil styles are available and there is not a clear winner on which is best.

Natural Apiary – Full Beekeeper Suit

It is hard to beat a full cover beekeeping suit in a poly/cotton blend. The fencing type veil is easy to keep on and I like the pockets on the leg to hold my hive tool.

Natural Apiary Max Beekeeping SuitNatural Apiary Max Beekeeping SuitNatural Apiary Max Beekeeping Suit

 

This type of bee suit can be washed and will last for years. Some beekeepers do not prefer the fencing style hood but I find it to be comfortable and actually prefer it to the standard round veil.

Ultra Breeze Ventilated Jacket

My favorite. I love my ultra breeze jacket and you will too. Made in the USA with the best zippers I have seen on ANY piece of beekeeping equipment.

Ultra Breeze Large Beekeeping Jacket with Veil, 1-Unit, WhiteUltra Breeze Large Beekeeping Jacket with Veil, 1-Unit, WhiteUltra Breeze Large Beekeeping Jacket with Veil, 1-Unit, White

 

Yes, it is very bee sting resistant – feels a bit heavy at first. Cooler while working bees – I love it!

Many foreign made ventilated beekeeping suits are on the market now. Some of them work well but you must take care to be extra gentle with them. The Ultra Breeze can “take a licking”, I know.

Ultra Breeze Full Beekeeping Suit

Let’s not forget the Ultra Breeze in full length version. Cooler in the bee yard than other types of suits. Sturdy construction with a veil that is easier to see through than some.

The Ultra Breeze  Beekeeping Suit with Veil, 1-Unit, White, X-LargeThe Ultra Breeze Beekeeping Suit with Veil, 1-Unit, White, X-LargeThe Ultra Breeze  Beekeeping Suit with Veil, 1-Unit, White, X-Large

 

Pockets to help you keep up with your hive tool. And, great quality and workmanship. This is the Cadillac of beekeeping suits.

Economy Full Suit from Mann Lake

Getting started with beekeeping is not an inexpensive endeavor. If you would like a more economical investment for bee protection, consider the economy full suit.

MANN LAKE Economy Beekeeper Suit with Self Supporting Veil, 2X-LargeMANN LAKE Economy Beekeeper Suit with Self Supporting Veil, 2X-LargeMANN LAKE Economy Beekeeper Suit with Self Supporting Veil, 2X-Large

 

Usually a type of poly/cotton blend, I have 2 suits like this. They are durable if you take care when cleaning them and be gentle with the veil during storage.

This is a good choice for new beekeepers who don’t want to invest a lot of money in protective clothing.

Apiarist Beekeeping Jacket

The full length beekeeping suit is not for everyone. A beekeeping jacket is a nice addition to your bee protective wardrobe. It can be paired with blue jeans or even better a pair of beekeeping pants. ( Of any light color).

Natural Apiary Apiarist Beekeeping Jacket, 2X Large PinkNatural Apiary Apiarist Beekeeping Jacket, 2X Large PinkNatural Apiary Apiarist Beekeeping Jacket, 2X Large Pink

 

Who says beekeeping style has to be completely boring? You will love the quality and style of this jacket. It is a poly/cotton blend and comes in fun colors.

The addition of many women into the world of hobby beekeeping has had some nice affects on bee clothing options.

Deluxe Beekeeping Suit with Veil

Mann Lake CL633 Cotton/Polyester Deluxe Bee Suit with Zipper Veil, X-LargeMann Lake CL633 Cotton/Polyester Deluxe Bee Suit with Zipper Veil, X-LargeMann Lake CL633 Cotton/Polyester Deluxe Bee Suit with Zipper Veil, X-Large

 

For those of you looking for the traditional type of bee veil, the Mann Lake Deluxe suit is a good option.

This is similar to the economy suit above but the material, seams and zippers are more sturdy. A roomy bee suit with large pockets, it will last for years.

Kids Beekeeping Suit

Sharing the world of bees with children is a wonderful experience. But, we don’t want this early experience to turn bad. Most kids outgrow their bee suit before it wear outs.

Kids' Beekeeping Cotton Protective Suit with VeilKids’ Beekeeping Cotton Protective Suit with VeilKids' Beekeeping Cotton Protective Suit with Veil

 

But kid’s suit have great resale value. There will be people more than willing to buy your used beekeeping suit for kids.

The Best Beekeeping Suit For You

There is no perfect beekeeping suit.  No suit can promise zero bee stings.  Beware of cheap beekeeping suits or jackets.  Most of the time, they will be of poor quality.  The veils are notoriously fragile and hard to see through.  Zippers break easily and sizes run small. Having a cheaper suit for a spare is okay.  You never know when a photographer will show up in black clothes.

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