Which Type of Beekeeping Suit Should I Choose

by Natural Apiary on August 29, 2017

beekeeping suit and bee jacket in apiary with bees

Polycotton Beekeeping Suits; All bee suits have one primary aim, and that is to create a complete environment to enclose you, to prevent bees, wasps or hornets from getting in and having unimpeded access to your skin. That is why good quality fasteners, like genuine YKK zippers and genuine Velcro hook and loop fasteners are important.

Our entry level Apiarist Beekeeping Suit does just that, being made of durable polycotton and using plastic YKK zippers and Velcro seals. This is a great suit if you are on a budget or just starting out and unsure if beekeeping is going to be a long-term pursuit.

All Cotton Beekeeping Suits; Our Max Protect Beekeeping Suit, however, is one large step up. It is made of 100% Cotton which is not only breathable but more comfortable too. As this suit is made of cotton, it can therefore be made much thicker, without making the suit too hot to wear.

This not only makes it harder for bees to sting through the suit, but also reduces the severity of any stings that do get through it. The sting is reduced because the bee can’t sting you as deeply, reducing the amount and depth of venom in your body.

Max Protect suits also have Metal YKK zips and more Velcro seals. This increase in strengthened fasteners makes the suit more durable and less likely to fail under vigorous and regular use. This also prevents any possible entry point for a determined bee to gain excess into the suit.

This suit has the ultimate veil. It has been designed to provide much more visibility than any other beekeeping veil on the market, besides being the only veil that is non-flammable. This is an important distinction from all other veils, because a key aspect to safety is being able to see everything clearly, without any hindrance. Being able to see exactly what you and your bees are doing is vital when managing your bees.

We have all been warned of the dangers of wearing your veil when lighting our smoker as most veils are made of some fabrication derived from oil. An unexpected flame catching your veil can cause it to catch fire or ball up into a molten liquid that could damage your face. This veil won’t. It will burn if you put it on a fire longer enough, but it won’t catch fire or melt into burning oil.

Finally, we made this veil ridged. We found with veils in the past, they can collapse and move too freely when working on our hive. Although this fabric choice is great for packing a suit, it is not very desirable in practice. With our veil, even though it is still sufficiently collapsible for packing, it will hold its form and will not bend or collapse in wind or general use.

This suit is great if you are a keen hobbyist beekeeper, a commercial beekeeper or pest controller. It is deigned to last.

Ventilated Beekeeping Suits; Our Zephyros Protect Beekeeping Suit is our ventilated beekeeping suit. This kind of suit was first designed by EC Green, 1937 (patent 2.074.390), (not Bill Samples from Ultra Breeze). In addition to keeping you cool and fresh in hot climates, our Zephyros Protect was designed differently, with protection from Africanized bees equally aggressive as wasps as its main purpose.

In keeping with the original ventilated suit design, the holes outer mash layer of are large enough to allow air flow, but smaller than other ventilated suits. The reason for this change it to prevent a bee or wasp from being able to push the smallest part of its abdomen through the hole, as just preventing the whole bee for accessing isn’t enough. As with all ventilated suits, the stinger can get through this first layer. We also took the step to ensure that the touch of the fabric was soft and smooth to prevent the legs of bees from getting caught in loose fibres.

This is why the second layer is super important. As a bee’s stinger only protrudes 1.5 - 3mm, this layer is thicker than other ventilated suits. The Zephyros Protect 2nd layer gives the gap of 5mm, ensuring that a bee or wasps’ stinger doesn’t reach your skin and therefore can’t reach you. The fabric mesh that we used was purposely chosen to be soft and flexible to make the suit light and comfortable to wear. The hole size on this 2nd layer is also very important, because if the holes are too large, this could lead to possibility to gap being compromised through movement. If the hole is too small there won’t be sufficient airflow to keep you cool. After testing hundreds of fabrics, we think we have got it just right.

The 3rd layer, the inner layer, is where a lot of ventilated suits let themselves down, by using a less robust mesh with larger holes that the outer layer. This we didn’t do! Our inner layer is made of equally strong mesh as out 1st layer, and we did this because the majority of the wear & tear of the suit is from internal friction between the suit and your clothes. Again, we also opted for small holes to maintain the integrity of the bee gap and reduce the chance of your clothing catching on the suit.

We then doubled stitched these three layers together making a very tough sealed unit for protection.

In summary, this suit has:

  • Fine inner layer with smaller holes than other ventilated suits
  • 5mm gap between you and the bee, which is not compromised with movement
  • Gun Metal YKK zips with Velcro seals to ensure that all entry points are extra tough
  • Clear view, non-flammable veil, ridged veil, as detailed above with Max Protect.
Though this suit is made of three layers, it is surprising light, but also makes it more expensive.

This is perfect if your apiary is in a warm climate, and you bees are aggressive. If you can afford the extra, then this would be the perfect suit or jacket.

I personal use all three suits. I use the Apiarist bee suit when I do all the messy jobs, like harvesting and tidying up around my apiary. I use the Max Protect beekeeping suit for all my regularly checks and the Zephyros beekeeping suit on extremely hot days, and finally my Zephyros bee jacket for random inspections and non-intrusive checks.

James Bailey - Beekeeper
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