How to Avoid Bee Stings – Part One

by Julie Tennis on November 14, 2011

This week I’m posting a short series about how to avoid being stung by bees.  There are three main lines of defense against bee stings when you’re a beekeeper:  your suit, your smoker, and bee sense.  Today is part one – the bee suit:

The Bee Suit

No, I’m not talking about the costume worn by Bumblebee Man in The Simpsons.  The bee suit consists of lightweight white coveralls, hat and veil, and gloves worn to help keep bees away from your skin.

The coveralls extend from ankles to wrist, with a zipper running down the front.  The wrists and ankles are sewn in with elastic.  The hat and veil can be two pieces or one, but in either case the veil zippers to the coveralls.  The gloves extend almost to the elbows and also have elastic around the edge.

All the elastic and zippers help to keep bees from entering the suit while you’re inside.  Bees are accustomed to dealing with intruders who have thick fur, so they have evolved to be very skilled at burrowing through layers in order to reach flesh.  Sometimes those layers might be fur, sometimes clothing.  They are so skilled at this burrowing behavior that I have had them crawl under the elastic of my gloves, down to my wrists, and then back up under the elastic of my coveralls, ending up inside the suit with me.

The bees that crawled into my suit with me were particularly agitated.  That was my first year as a beekeeper.  If I’d been using my second line of defense I could have avoided being stung.  The second line of defense?  That’ll be the next post in this series – the smoker.

In the meantime, why not join my mailing list at the right?  Subscribers will receive my regular newsletter and be alerted when I begin teaching live classes this winter.

{ 3 comments }

Reda July 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm

This is the first blog I’ve ever read and, fantasically, it’s about bees! Excellent!Nicks quite corerct; the less you interfere with bees, the better the results. I have two National Hives but am looking to move the bees over to Warres as the concept appears to be far more sustainable, a lot less traumatic for the bees and a lot less time consuming for me. As there is considerably less manipulation (opening of the hive) with a Warre it means the bees are not having the roof taken off their house, and the furniture inside moved around, every week which must surely strss them out.Therefore, a Warre will be a much better hive to keep in your garden; it’s relaxing to watch the bees, helps the plants, may result in some honey and is a great talking point with friends.I’d fully recommend beekeeping; it’s a fabulous hobby and costs me a lot less than my dog! If you have a club, or someone with whom you can team up, then that gives you greater confidence and knowledge. An excellent beginners book is called, Bees at the Bottom of my Garden . It’s funny, informative and written in an easy-to-understand way which just encourages you to keep readingGo for it.Best wishes,Tim.New Forest, Hampshire, England (the little guys across the water!)

pollinators.info November 16, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Nice video! I could hear you really well! 🙂

Anonymous November 18, 2011 at 10:11 am

Thanks Athena! 😀

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