Why are some beekeeping suit designs less or more expensive than the other bee suit designs?

by James Bailey on October 01, 2020

Evidence suggests that humans were harvesting honey from bees 10,000 years ago. Depictions and records of beekeeping have been found across North Africa, Egypt, China, Greece and areas of South America.

Though the earliest apiarists didn’t wear any protection at all. In 16th century Europe, beekeepers developed a precursor to the modern suits we see today.

These suits featured a mask, that protected the face and neck, but didn’t allow for much visibility. Present-day beekeepers wear more protective suits that consists of three parts: a hooded veil, a full bodied overall and gloves.

The modern beekeeping suit, just like apiarist clothing in the past, is designed to preventing bees from having unrestricted access to your skin. you, but require other additional clothing to be worn underneath to prevent a bee’s stinger from reaching you.

Our four types of beekeeping suits and jackets that we make, do just that, aim to the most common needs of a beekeeper, with the use of different materials and design used to address these needs, make each of these suits very individual and also explains their price differences.

Traditionally beekeeping clothing was pale colored and this is still very common today. This is because of the natural color of cotton and cost of coloring was an expense not warranted for workwear, though some consider this is to provide better differentiation from the colony's natural predators (such as bears and skunks) which tend to be dark-colored. It is now known that bees see in ultraviolet and are also attracted to scent. So the type of fabric conditioner used has more impact than the color of the fabric.

Beekeeping Smocks

These are the most basic type of beekeeper’s suit, simple in design, typically made of a poly cotton a one-piece pullover body with a hooded veil attached, to protect your upper body and face. You would need to wear a think and baggy pair of jeans to protect your legs.

Though smocks only offer partial protection to your body, they are very easy to put on, as you easily pull it on over your head, and you are done.

This makes them great when you don’t need to do a full hive inspection and only need to do some lighter work around your apiary i.e., mowing the lawn or refilling winter feeders.

Every day apiary protection: The Beekeepers Smock
Protection ★★ - Comfort ★★★ - Cost $

The Apiarist Beekeeping Suit

Apiarist beekeeping suits

Intended as an entry-level suit for someone new to keeping bees. They may one have one or a few hives, that they will attend to on weekends, and may not be sure if this is a pastime that they will continue more than a few seasons.

The Traditional Beekeepers Suit

That said, bee sting protection is paramount in any of our suit designs. So, with this suit, as will all our suits metal YKK zippers are used along with our very own non-flammable veil, in the fencing style.

The leg zipper on this suit is slightly shorter than our other designs at 12 inches long. 12 inches is more than ample to help you put your feet through the legs of the suit with ease, but also helps reduce to over cost of the suit.

This suit is made of a tough 65% / 35% poly-cotton blend. As with most beekeeping suits the thickness of a single layer of fabric won't stop a direct sting, as the main, the purpose of the suit is to create an enclosed environment to stop bees from getting in and having unimpeded access to your skin. This bee tight enclosure is reinforced with Velcro and elasticated seals.

Your beekeeping journey starts here with: The Apiarist Beekeeping Suit
Protection ★★★ - Comfort ★★★ - Cost $$

To stop a direct sting with a single layer suit, you will need to wear some extra layers underneath. This is perfectly fine normal for most beekeeping, as a lot of beekeeping in cooler hemispheres. For me in the UK, the summer isn't that hot, and most of my beekeeping is done is Spring and Autumn, to the extra layers are a must just to keep warm.

Professional Cotton Bee Suits

If you are and experience beekeeper and are attending multiplies hives or you just want something better, then this suit is for you.

Again, this suit has metal YKK zippers and a non-flammable veil, well this comes with two veils, one fencing and one round. This is because the round and fencing their own benefits and some beekeepers prefer one over the other. I personally like the fencing style.

With two veils is a big  step up.

The leg zipper length is 18 inches to make it even easy for you to put your feet through the legs, which is great as you won't need to take you shoes off to do this. I wear boots, so I take my shoes off anyway.

The fabric is pure cotton, as a natural hollow fiber, the suit is soft and more breathable. So, a thinker fabric be used, reducing the severity of a direct bee sting. But, again as this is a single layer fabric suit, additional layers of clothing are recommended.

Cotton has many relevant benefits over poly-cotton, some of which are listed here: 

  • Can withstand heat, so won't catch fire or melt when in contact with your smoker
  • Can withstand detergents, and bleach, so is easily cleaned and machine washable
  • Cotton is a natural cellulosic fiber, so these suits are recyclable and biodegradable
The Safest Place In An Apiary - The Max Protect Professional Cotton Beekeepers Suit 
Protection ★★★★ - Comfort ★★★★ - Cost $$$$
  • Cotton is more breathable, allowing your body's heat to escape, keeping you cooler on hot days, making these extremely comfortable to wear.
  • When cotton absorbs water, it becomes 20% stronger, so if you get caught in a local shower, and your suit gets wet, you will be better protected
  • Cotton resists static electricity build-up, you won't build up a static charge and discharge an electric shock to your bees when you pick up your first frame.

3 Layer Ventilated Bee Suits

... with two veils 

This is the best of the best when it comes to sting protection and comfort. Again, this suit has suits metal YKK zippers, with 18 inch leg zippers and two non-flammable veils (fencing and round) and just like the Max Protect Suit.

But what makes this suit special is that it is made of three layers of fabric, making this bee suit the only suit that will prevent direct stings from bees. This is because the three layers of fabric create a 5mm gap, were as a bee's stinger is only 3mm long, so the bee's stinger won't be able to reach you, making this suit very sting proof.

Plus, because the fabrics is used are mesh, it is still light to wear, and air can flow through the bee suit making is very comfortable to wear in hot climates like Texas USA.

If you really hate being stung, or you live in a warm state or country, then this suit is made for you.

This is the most expensive suit, simply because it uses three times the amount of fabric and extra stitching is needed to hold it all together. 

Stop Stings for Good - with the Zephyros Protect Ventilated Beekeeping Suit 
Protection ★★★★★ - Comfort ★★★★★ - Cost $$$$$

The other suits that we make are jacket versions of the above and our very own beekeeper smock. These are great to use if you just need to make a quick visit to your beehive and don't need to full protection of a beekeeping suit or, you just want to do a spot of gardening around your apiary.

As you won’t suffer from painful stings, you will never want to quit beekeeping, or need to give up on your beekeeping career

So why choose Natural Apiary when there are so many other beekeeping suits available... Well, Natural Apiary mission is to Stop beekeepers from being stung, as this is the biggest reason why people don't take up beekeeping and why many quit.

We always make our suit safer with constant improvements. Whether we change something big or small we don't wait to release a new version, we just add these improvements to our existing production. This is so you can benefit from these changes sooner. Whether this is adding metal zippers or adding non-flammable mesh to our veils or just changing the way we stitch the Velcro seals, you get them all as soon as we approve the new design.

apiarist beekeeping suits and jacket. bee sting safe
We want you to take up beekeeping, we don't want you to quit, and this means being safe and staying sting-free.

James Bailey, Natural Apiary, updated 26 Jan 2021

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