There’s nothing heroic about getting stung, which is why it is important to get a good beekeeping suit that keeps you sting-free and safe, especially as a beginner.
If facing a hive had been one of Hercules’ seven labors, he would have a hard time explaining that the nasty bumps on his face were not a nasty reaction to shellfish.
Even he couldn’t pull off that look. And neither can you.
Beekeeping is such an interesting activity that changes you and I can’t imagine not doing it.
That only changes when I get stung. At that moment, the temptation to quit is very strong.
As someone with about more than a dozen stings on my belt (I don’t mean to brag), I can assure you that a good (and professional!) beekeeping suit is vital, not just a good idea.
When a spot on your body gets a healthy dose of bee venom, it becomes very difficult for you to concentrate on the activity at hand, be it an inspection or harvest.
Because bee stings hurt, A LOT, it is important for you to protect yourself every time you approach the hive.
This is especially true if you plan to open up the hive and take a peek.
You would probably get away with working without a professional bee suit if all you were doing was observing the hive from the outside.
Even then, depending on the time of year and the temperament of your bees, you may still be at risk.
So, you need to suit up with a good sting-proof suit.
What to Look For in a Good Professional Beekeeping Suit
Sting Proof Protection
The presence of the beekeeping suit doesn’t deter the bees from trying to get at you. Oh no, they have way more drive.
To be honest, I wouldn’t mind getting stung if the venom came with a healthy dose of that self-confidence.
That one bee that attacks you does so with the intention of making a difference. Now multiply that by about 10,000.
That’s a force to reckon with, and a dose of venom that will kill you. Your suit needs to keep that sting away from your skin.
It can do that with the fabric or even how it fits. Sometimes the folds of the beekeeping suit help to protect your skin from contact.
Keep it Ventilated and Cool
The most active time for beekeepers is between spring and fall.
As it gets hotter, the work you have to do in the apiary increases and you’ll spend more time in the suit with your bees.
The last thing you want is to overheat and pass out.
You need a fabric that breathes even while it protects you from the thousands of bees that are making it no secret that they want you gone.
Most suits are a blend which helps with the fabric’s ability to breath and ventilate.
The lighter colors also reflect heat as opposed to absorbing it so you will want to keep your bee keeping suit option to lighter shades.
Flexibility and Comfort
Don’t forget, these are your work clothes. You need to be able to get things done in them.
This is why most beekeepers appear to be wearing low-tech space suits.
Having a suit that’s a size or two bigger allows you to do the work without worrying about ripping or having parts of the beekeeping suit ride up and expose your flesh.
You need to be able to see clearly, grip your tools comfortably, bend and carry supers with ease.
Quick Wardrobe Change
You will often put on the bee suit on top of your other clothes so you don’t want to be struggling.
Once, a bee found its way into my suit and it felt like it took years just to locate my zip!
I was very new to beekeeping at the time so I can tell you that having to run around looking for a Good Samaritan to let me out of my suit whilst in a panic was no picnic.
Even if that doesn’t happen to you, you will find that a comfortable beekeeping suit to have on is one that’s easy to get both on and off.
What Makes Up a Professional Bee Suit?
There are four primary components to a good suit for keeping bees; hat and veil, jacket, pants, and gloves.
Hat and Veil
Your noggin is your most precious asset. It’s also quite sensitive.
A sting on your crown can be distracting, to say the least. Your head is also where all the soft flesh of your face is located.
A sting on the tip of your nose or around your eye would definitely stall your progress.
More experienced beekeepers will comfortably slap on a hat and veil and make their way to a hive without the rest of the suit.
This is not recommended obviously but they have been handling bees a lot longer and wouldn’t do it unless they were comfortable with it.
You may have noticed the veil of a bee suit is usually black.
If it was as white as the rest of the suit, the glare from the sun would make working during the summer that much harder.
Since most of your work in the hive will be during daylight, a dark-colored bee veil is ideal.
The hat not only protects your head but is a support structure for the veil.
Since the veil has pretty large spaces between the fibers, it is important to keep it from touching your face. If you don’t, then it would make it very easy for a bee to get to you.
In many cases, the jacket will be attached to a hat and a veil. Here, you need to ensure that you’re sealed in, so to speak. It helps if you have a bit of elastic around the wrists and waist. Bees are like ninjas.
If there’s a way in, they’ll find it. With that in mind, you’ll want a zip that goes up under the veil. Most manufacturers will provide some protection around the area of convergence in the form of a flap that has a Velcro strip.
Still, on the jacket, you want a good quality zip. Wardrobe malfunctions could be catastrophic if they happen while you’re standing over a strong maybe aggressive colony. In addition to that, look at the stitching that holds the garment together.
I cannot emphasize enough how determined these girls are to make you hurt when you’re after their hard-earned honey.
When most beekeepers buy a suit, they don’t plan to trade it in when the fall line comes out.
It will have to survive several wash cycles and friction from the nature of the work that you do. Look at the seams. Will they hold every time you get into a squat as you set down supers?
Although there are those who find them difficult to work with, they probably started off with them and weaned them off as they gained experience.
The key thing to remember is that you are trying to keep yourself focused on the matter of beekeeping.
Getting stung on your finger though is not as distracting as one on your eyelid, however, it is still quite painful and can cause you to be clumsy putting you at greater risk.
Not all suits will come with gloves, so prepare to seek these out as individual items. We’ve also covered the best beekeeping gloves here. You wouldn’t believe the deals you can score on buying gloves separately.
If you think that bees won’t go that low, you are sadly and gravely mistaken. Even if you opt to just have the jacket and veil, it is in your best interest to get yourself some long pants and possibly tuck them into your socks if you don’t have a full suit.
I don’t need to get into details on what damage they could do to the lower part of your body.
I’m sure we both know I’m not thinking about toes here. However, since I did mention toes, get yourself a good pair of boots. They are comfortable, easy to move around in regardless of terrain and are bee proof.
The 10 Best Professional Beekeeping Suits Reviewed
Before we go into the top beekeeping suit reviews, let’s have a quick glance at the bee suit checklist:
- Keeps the stings away from the skin
- Allows you to work comfortably
- Keeps you cool and ventilated primarily in warm temperatures
- Aesthetic coolness is a bonus
- Easy to get into and out of
The following beekeeping suits are recommended on the basis of this short checklist, each with their pros and cons. They are all available online so feel free to check them out.
10. Humble Bee 410 Polycotton Beekeeping Suit with Round Veil
This bee suit covers all our needs. It succeeds at its primary task, keeping stingers away from your skin. They vary in size from an XXS to an XXXL. That covers individuals from the 5-foot mark, all the way to 6 ft 6”.
The thing I really love about this suit is the panoramic view you get from the attached veil. It comes with a brimmed hat, which is what the veil is attached to. That round veil as it is called stays away from your face without the aid of a baseball cap.
It fits great and caters to a large number of people. You also have added the benefit of pockets in which you can carry your hive tool and whatever else you need. Add to that the thumb and foothold that keeps the limbs from exposure and you have a true winner in this suit.
There seems to be only one concern with the veil, and that is regards to the material. The material, being stiff in nature can tear quite easily. This isn’t hard to repair but it can cause considerable inconvenience.
The suit is quite pricey but completely worth it.
9. Humble Bee 430 Ventilated Beekeeping Suit with Round Veil
Here’s another winning suit from good folks at Humble Bee. As usual, the veil is a big hit for me, similar to the 410. It shares many of the same features, that is, brass zippers, double stitched pockets and a 50-50 blend of Cotton and Polyester.
The big difference is in the ventilation panels it sports on the chest and arms. This is the ultimate cool beekeeping suit. Even those who gave negative reviews couldn’t help applauding the delivery of the ventilators.
If you are based in the warmer southern states, then you’ll want to have this suit, just to make sure you stay conscious during your bee activities. If you happen to wind up on your knees, the suit has padding for that too.
On the checklist we set out earlier, it covers everything we need.
Unfortunately, it is a little pricey and a few people have indicated that you may need a hat to provide an extra layer of protection on your head. This time, it’s not the veil, but the fabric of the hat itself.
8. VIVO New Professional Bee Keeping Jacket with a Veil (BEE-V105)
The wonderful people at Vivo have brought us this bee jacket with a veil that is both protective and economical.
Lots of reviews have praised the quality of the bee suit despite its considerably lower price.
I’ll admit I have a bias toward a full body bee suit, but if I ever graduated to a level of less clothing, this would be my first choice.
It keeps you cool while keeping the stings out. It fits quite snuggly even on very tall people which allows you to work quite easily.
With the hood attached to the jacket, putting on the veil is quite simple. The polyester fabric helps to keep you cool during the sunny spells that make up the busiest beekeeping period.
Although it works quite well, I wouldn’t recommend it if you have an aggressive hive.
7. VIVO New Professional Cotton Full Body Beekeeping Bee Keeping Suit, with Veil Hood (BEE-V106)
Vivo has convinced me that when the purse strings are a little tight, they have a solution for you. As this beekeeping suit is made from cotton, you can be sure that it breathes quite well keeping you cool in the suit.
Although the manufacturer states that their suits will fit a person who is 6 ft 6”, the reality is a little different. They may not have accounted for girth in their recommendation.
The veil is closer to a fencing veil than a round veil, which may require the use of a baseball cap under the veil to keep it away from your face.
I must say that I really like the pockets, particularly on the chest because they are sealable. Overall, a great beekeeping suit for a good price.
6. NATURAL APIARY – Apiarist Beekeeping Suit
Yes, ladies; sand is the new black. Let me point out that the folks at Natural Apiary provide this suit in other colors but I had to keep the “sand” in for the effect.
On top of a cool experience and sealed off openings at the wrist and ankle, this is an aesthetically appealing suit for both professionals and beginner beekeepers alike.
You won’t hear that phrase used often in beekeeping.
In truth, aesthetics isn’t particularly important, but if combined with a good fabric, high-quality zippers, stitching, and a good quality veil, you have an award-winning package that offers maximum sting protection.
Another great feature of this product is that it’s competitively priced.
I only wish it had thumb holds. With the fencing veil, a baseball cap is always recommended.
5. LORJE Beekeeping, Suit, Jacket, Gloves, Bee Hive Brush & J Hook Hive Tool Set
I’m going to break the mold here and review this one as a set.
First of all, the price for this package is a steal at the time I am writing this review.
Second, it is very likely that where you need one of these items, you’ll need the others. Since this is primarily a review of the suits, we shall begin with that.
As per the description, this one covers the upper part of your body, but unlike the Vivo jacket, this one comes with gloves.
Although there’s no mention of thumb holds, the elastic on the gloves makes up for that and will keep your arms safe.
It is a lightweight garment, which you’ll need during the summer and comes highly praised for its quality polyester cotton blend.
As with most online purchases, getting the right size seems to be a challenge.
This seems to affect all the brands across the board so feel free to engage the seller in order to make sure you get one that fits you well as opposed to subjecting yourself to a wedgie every time you put it on.
The shape of the hood helps to keep the veil away from your face thus keeping your nose sting free.
The additional components, namely the hive tool and bee brush are vital to beekeeping and it is possible to lose them over time so even if you have them, getting yourself an extra one of each wouldn’t hurt.
4. Eco-Keeper Professional-grade Beekeeper Suit
This high-quality and professional bee suit by Eco-Keeper is definitely a keeper. It’s lightweight but able to protect you against the persistent attack from your bees.
The zippers are of excellent quality and seal you up quite well, with an added Velcro flap for added protection.
Of all the reviews I have gone through, this suit crafted by Eco-Keeper has the least number of complaints when it comes to size.
That’s definitely a plus because most beekeepers do not have the time to send back a bee suit. Since it fits well, it allows you to work well.
Last but not least, it’s relatively pocket-friendly.
3. Humble Bee 411-M Polycotton Beekeeping Suit with Fencing Veil
If you can loosen your purse strings just a little, then Humble bee will deliver this amazing quality beekeeping suit.
This bee suit, like the others, is a blend of cotton and synthetic fiber, which has been stitched with the aim of serving you the beekeeper for the long haul.
The key difference between this suit and the other Humble Bee gear we have reviewed is that this has the fencing veil as opposed to the round veil.
Although my bias persists on the issue of the veil, the quality of the rest of the suit is sufficient to sway me.
The only matter of concern is in the sizing chart. Many of the reviewers were happy to praise the product but they complained about the size ordered is too small.
That said, they have a very responsive customer service team and where possible, they will rectify the issues you may encounter with their suit.
2. Complete Bee Keeper Suit Helmet Pants Gloves by Pest Mall
This professional suit here was designed to protect you from stinging insects larger than the honey bee so the quality of the suit was pushed way up. The veil is framed which keeps it very far away from your face.
As a cotton and polyester blend and breaths and keeps you cool as it protects you from what we shall call “the enemy”.
Since the suit was designed to withstand the stings of a wasp, you should have no problem approaching any one of your hives in this suit.
Last but most certainly not least, the seller has put a lot of emphasis on having the buyer communicate directly with them via email regarding the size. Now that’s being proactive.
1. Natural Apiary Max Protection Beekeeping Suit
This is the high-end version here of the Apiarist Beekeeping suit but with lots of little extras, such as Velcro and color variety.
To be honest, I was sure that you’d had to pack up your fashion sense when you’re on the beekeeping mission, but this proves I was wrong.
It meets all the criteria we set earlier since it allows you to work and remain stung free, stays cool with 100% cotton material, and allows you to slip in and out of it without much of a hustle.
The major limitation is that it may stretch your budget a little. That said it’s quite durable so will prove to be a worthwhile investment over time
Final Word About Getting a Good and Professional Beekeeping Suit
As you shop for a good and professional bee suit, all you need to remember is function and comfort overrule aesthetics.
If it protects you and keeps you on your feet, while allowing you the flexibility of movement, the only other determinant should be price.
Buying the suit is the least complicated activity you will undertake in your beekeeping adventure, so enjoy it.