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Beekeeping suits vs beekeeping jackets, what's best for you?

17 May 2022
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Beekeeping suits provide full-body protection from stings, beekeeping jackets cover your torso and arms with a normally detachable hoof that fastens onto the collar of the jacket. Both will stop the majority of stings but are not 100% sting proof.

Beginning your journey as a beekeeper can be a daunting task. Selecting the right hives, the best bee smoker and a high-quality beekeeping suit or jacket can leave you with more questions than answers.

Deciding how to manage your hives should be an exciting experience as you gradually learn about different techniques and methods to nurture and care for bees.

Beekeeping suits and jackets are commonplace among anyone looking after bees as a hobby or a profession. Some more seasoned keepers will opt for no protection but this requires a level of expertise and association with the bees they manage.

For the rest of us, staying sting-free while we work on our hives is a must.

So what's the best way to protect yourself from bee stings, beekeeping suit vs beekeeping jacket, let's take a look at some of the differences and work out which is going to be better for your personal situation.

What's the difference between a beekeeping suit and a jacket

Let's take a look at some of the key differences between these two pieces of beekeeping equipment.

Beekeeping jackets

The primary difference between a bee suit and a jacket is its range of protection across your body.

Jackets provide protection all across the upper half of your body when paired with some suitable gloves.

Two examples of beekeeping jackets that are currently available in the UK.

The primary options available here will be the veil which is available as a classic round veil or a fencing vale as shown in the second example.

If you're a beginner I would recommend steering away from beekeeping jackets, to begin with. Learning to tend to bees and manage hives is a very steep learning curve and worrying about being stung should be the last thing in your mind.

As a beginner, you're more likely to agitate the bees you work with leading to potential stings.

Always check if your jacket is machine washable, be aware some jackets are modular and only particular parts of the suit will be suitable for the washing machine.

Utilising a suit instead of a jacket will minimise this risk, leaving you to focus on honing your craft and prioritising the health of your bees.

Beekeeping suits

Beekeeping suits are the stereotypical garb of a beekeeper. Their somewhat curious appearance leaves a little to be desired but they are fantastic for their use case.

Unlike your jacket, a beekeeping suit will protect your body from head to toe when paired with some good beekeeping gloves.

Things to consider when purchasing your suit include, how aggressive your bees are and the temperatures you aim to work in.

Keepers working in warmer climates will want to opt for a polycotton build. This blend incorporates a mix of cotton and polyester, with the polyester working to keep the material breathable and allow airflow.

In colder climates you may want to opt for a 100% cotton build, this will provide the best overall protection from stings.

Always confirm the best method for cleaning and maintaining your suit before purchasing, we recommend buying a suit that can be washed primarily in the washing machine.

Always try your suit on to ensure it has a loose comfortable fit, remember, any areas that pull tight to your skin are at risk of a potential sting.

The two examples below display the different veil designs available much like the jackets above.

Need some help picking the right beekeeping suit? We've created a detailed guide on the best beekeeping suits looking at some of the best suits available for different budgets and needs.

Do beekeeper jackets work for wasps too?

Yes, all of the jackets on the list will work to effectively protect you from wasp stings as well.

Beekeeping jackets will effectively protect you from hornet stings but you may want to invest in eye protection to avoid any venom reaching your eyes through the veil of the jacket.

What are the best trousers to wear with a beekeeper jacket?

Loose-fitting trousers with a relatively thick material will be the best option to wear with a beekeeping jacket.

Bees and wasps can easily sting you through tight thin clothing, so try to wear trousers that sit away from your skin and avoid sportswear at all costs.

You can find out more in our short read on can bees sting you through clothes?

Should my beekeeper jacket be white?

Yes, through natural evolution bees have learnt to be wary of animals with dark coloured fur as they can pose a risk to the hive or nest and the honey and larvae supplies within.

Badgers and bears will regularly raid nests for their nutritious and calorie-dense contents, at best this can set the bees back months in terms of foraging for stores and at worst can lead to the collapse of the entire colony.

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