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The bees are either defensive or are they very docile. They can become aggressive if when they feel the need to defend their hive. This can make them dangerous at times. They sting as this is the best defense they have. It is also why many people are scared of bees. As bees can inflict a lot of pain to beekeepers if the protective gear is not adequate by stinging multiple times. Plus, some people have allergic reactions to a bee sting. If there are many bee stings, then it can be fatal in some circumstances. This is the main reason why beekeeping protective clothing is needed. Many beekeepers think that more stings they get, the more immunity they get to the stings. However, this is not the case, being stung multiple times over a period of years, can actually cause health problems in later life and has forced some beekeepers to quit beekeeping as a hobby and as a profession. Beekeeping protective gear not only prevents painful stings to your body, face and hands and adverse reactions, but also helps reduced the possibility of any long-term health issues.
So even very experienced beekeepers need protective beekeeping clothing. This includes the veil and hat, gloves and a full suit or jackets. Each are made specifically for beekeeping and are designed to protect your body whilst attending your bees. The gloves are essential, as they are in direct contact with the bees when perform hive inspections. Gloves need to be protective and allow the beekeeper to have dexterity and a ‘feel for the bees’ as they do delicate activities while inspecting hive and collecting honey. When a bee stings your hand, then it can become very painful and can prevent you the beekeeper from completing the beehive inspection. Many beekeepers feel that they can remove a sting from the hand by just rubbing against the sting, but if your face is stung, the same cannot be done. The beekeeper will need to leave the hive, go to a face place away from the bees and remove the stinger with the help of a mirror. To prevent stings to your face, a veil and hood is needed. This allows the beekeeper to look at what is happening, but it protects your face from bees. The veil is the most important piece of beekeeping protective clothing that all beekeepers should use.
Beekeeping clothing also consists of a beekeeping suit or jacket. This is very similar to a jumpsuit/coverall and is designed to protects all of the body that is exposed to the bees and their sting. The beekeeping suit needs to be loose to wear so that you can move around your apiary and do beekeeping work comfortably. Also a loose/baggy fit will help increase the distance between your body and the bee, help to prevent the being stinger from reaching you. Color has no impact on the likelihood of a bee stinging you, but it is best to avoid furry fabrics as this would look like the fur of some natural predators in North America like bears. If you live in a warm climate, then a 3 layer ventilated suit would be the best choice, as these provide great protection and will keep you cool in the hot sun. If you live in a cooler climate, then a single layer cotton suit is best, when worn with long sleeve top and jeans, will protect you well.
Zack Wilson is an avid beekeeper, (edited by James Bailey), for more beekeeping suits and gloves please click here
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