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Beekeeping is a rewarding hobby, but there’s always the potential to get stung. While beekeeping suits offer some protection from nasty stings, they can be expensive and cumbersome to work in.
Although we recommend using industry-standard protective wear, some handy alternatives to beekeeping suits exist. Each offers some level of protection, and most options are more affordable.
What can I use instead of a beekeeping suit?
Confident and experienced beekeepers looking for a low-cost beekeeping suit should try to source a second-hand one. They’ll cost less than a pair of jeans and are built for the job.
For a light-weight alternative, consider the Bug Baffler as a backup option. It won’t provide the same protection, but should do the trick for quick inspections of a docile colony.
1. Buy a secondhand bee suit
If price is your main concern, consider a second-hand beekeeping suit. Some beekeepers sell their used jackets and accessories, which is a great way to save money.
Check local beekeeping clubs, associations, second-hand stores, or online marketplaces for stock. It’s also worth asking the question in social media beekeeping groups to see if anyone has an unwanted spare.
If it’s dirty that’s fine, learn how to wash a beekeepers suit here.
2. The Bug Baffler
If you are looking for a breathable option, the Bug Baffler Insect Protective Mesh jacket and pants are an excellent alternative to beekeeping suits. They are made from a lightweight mesh material that allows airflow while protecting the wearer from bee stings.
We know several beekeepers who sometimes wear the Bug Baffler for less intrusive inspections. While it isn’t proven to be sting proof, it will provide limited protection. If you’ve got a docile hive, then the Bug Baffler may be worth testing.
3. Use household items
If you don’t like the feel of a beekeeping suit, consider everyday items you may have lying around the house:
- Painters’ suits
- Baggy clothing
- Heavy jackets
Remember that all these replacements have gaps that bees and wasps can access. Use duct tape or elastic at wrists and ankles to seal off entry points.
In some cases, everyday clothing items will work as a makeshift suit. Layers of baggy clothes over your regular ones will work as helpful barriers. They’ll also need elastic bands to seal the ankles and wrists.
Another alternative is to wear clothing made from heavy materials such as leather jackets, welding jackets, or heavy denim pants and shirts. You won’t enjoy wearing these in the middle of summer.
For those who want a more lightweight option, packable nylon rain gear will provide a limited barrier between bees and skin. However, it will offer less protection than standard bee suits.
Also read: beekeeping suit vs. jacket – what’s the difference?
4. Surgical scrubs
Surgical scrubs aren’t so easy to get your hands on, but they’re popular with some confident beekeepers. They are best for quick jobs involving a relaxed hive of bees.
We wouldn’t use them to catch a wild swarm that could become aggressive, but it may suit some situations.
Can I make my own bee suit?
Making a DIY beekeeping suit is easy and will save money. Check out our complete guide to making a homemade bee suit to learn more.
Do I need to wear a veil?
Protecting yourself from bee stings is crucial if you’re starting out as a beekeeper. Our recommendation? Always wear a veil! Bees can sense the carbon dioxide in our breath, which draws them toward the face.
Do I need a full bee suit or just a jacket?
Whether you need a full bee suit or just a jacket depends on the level of risk you’re willing to take. A full bee suit offers the most protection, covering your body and face and preventing bees from reaching your skin. A jacket may be sufficient if you work with your bees for short periods or are comfortable with more exposure.
Do cheap bee suits work?
The effectiveness of a bee suit isn’t based on price alone. Inexpensive bee suits may be less durable or have fewer features, but they can still provide adequate protection. When choosing a suit, check it has a veil, elastic cuffs, and a sturdy zipper. Also, check it’s made from high-quality materials and has plenty of pockets.
A new bee suit is not the only choice for beekeepers looking for protection from stings. Those on a budget should look for second-hand options or clubs that may have an old suit.
Coveralls, heavy clothing, and insect-protective mesh shirts like the Bug Baffler are alternatives worth considering. They may already be lying around the house, so you’ll save money. However, don’t expect the same level of protection from these options.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to read our top beekeeper suit tips. You get some practical advice of using them, choosing the right one, and keeping them in top shape.