Beekeeping Suit Vs. Jacket – Which Is Best?
An important decision for new beekeepers is choosing the right protective wear. The right mix of comfort and protection from bee stings will make your beekeeping journey safer and more enjoyable.
One of the toughest decisions is whether to wear a full beekeeping suit or jacket. Each has pros and cons, so this handy comparison guide will help you decide which is best.
What is the difference between a bee suit and jacket?
A beekeeping suit is a full-length, one-piece suit with a detachable hood and veil. Bee jackets are also sold with the hood and veil but don’t include pants.
While a full suit offers greater protection and peace of mind for beekeepers, they cost extra and are more challenging to put on and work in. Jackets are cooler on hot days and slip on quickly, but you won’t get as much leg protection when aggressive bees knock at your door.
If you’re new to keeping bees, you may also want to read our in-depth guide on what is a beekeeping suit.
The pros and cons of a beekeeping suit
- Offers full-body protection from bees
- Helps keep novice beekeepers more relaxed
- No gaps at the waist for stinging insects to access
- Keeps messy propolis off jeans or pants
- Takes longer to put on and take off
- Heats up on hot days
- More restrictive when bending over
- Typically costs more than a jacket
The pros and cons of a bee jacket
- Easier to slide on and remove afterward
- Costs less than a full suit
- Less cumbersome to work in
- Stays cooler on hot days
- Provides less bee sting protection
- May allow a gap around the waste for bee access
- Propolis gets onto the beekeeper’s jeans
Suggested reading: How do I clean a beekeeping suit?
Who will bee suits appeal to?
A full suit will undoubtedly appeal to beginner beekeepers. We recommend new hobbyists to take advantage of as much protective cover as possible. It’s easy to make mistakes, especially in the first year.
Some beekeepers are blessed with docile, happy bees that don’t mind you inspecting their home. A few puffs of smoke will often keep them calm long enough to get the job done.
But some bees aren’t so cooperative. They will readily sting if you come near the hive. A colony that’s partially Africanized may easily become defensive. Beekeepers at any level should consider suiting up before visiting this type of honey bee.
Who will a bee jacket appeal to?
Experienced beekeepers with calm bees may prefer wearing a jacket. Having spent time around their colony, they’ll better understand the warning signs of an unhappy hive. When bees seem aggressive, they may use a little extra smoke or return another day when things settle.
Beekeepers that operate in a hot climate will appreciate a jacket that allows more airflow.
Quick inspections are another reason for only wearing a jacket. If you’re not pulling out multiple frames, then less protective clothing may be suitable. The beekeeper should weigh up all the factors before deciding one way or the other.
Some beekeepers may like the idea of a jacket to save money. If budget is a concern, consider making a DIY beekeeping suit or discover four alternatives to buying a new bee suit.
Social media does an excellent job of raising the profile of beekeeping. However, some influencers are guilty of normalizing caring for bees with no protective gear.
Getting stung is no fun, so we encourage beekeepers to always have some level of protection.
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely in the early stages of your beekeeping journey. With that in mind, we encourage you to fully suit up with a veil and gloves. You sacrifice comfort and dexterity, but we’d always take that over a hive attack.
If you enjoyed this article, be sure to read our bee suit tips.