Although the first part of preparing yourself to work with bees is understanding the bee’s first line of defense. Even with an understanding of bee behavior, most beekeepers also wear some protective clothing. Many people are allergic to bee stings. But, sometimes the only way that someone discovers that they are allergic to bee stings to the first time that they get stung. If you are considering keeping bees, you should first determine whether or not you are allergic to bee stings. Even very experienced beekeepers get stung. In fact, some beekeepers believe that the more stings a beekeeper receives, the less irritation each one will cause to the body in the future. They believe that it is important for the beekeeper to be stung a few times during the season. With frequent bee stings the beekeepers develop higher levels of antibodies due to the reaction of the bee venom which offers them a resistant to stings in the future.
But, to minimize the amount that they are stung, even very experienced beekeepers usually wears gloves and a hooded suit or hat and veil. Although, some experienced beekeepers sometimes choose not to use gloves because they inhibit some of the delicate work of working with bees. Plus, a bee sting that is received on a bare hand can usually be quickly removed by scraping it with a fingernail in order to reduce the amount of venom that is injected. A person’s face and neck are the most important areas to protect because defensive bees are attracted to the a person’s breath. There can be much more pain and swelling on the face than a sting received elsewhere on the body. Plus, it is difficult for the beekeeper to remove the bee sting from their face without looking at a mirror. It is important to learn how to approach the bees calmly in order to avoid an aggressive assault from a large group of bees that is targeting the face.
Beekeeping suits are full length jumpsuits that are worn by the beekeeper when they are tending to the bee hive. The protective suit that beekeepers wear is usually light in color, typically white, and made out of a smooth material. A bee suit that is light in color provides the largest difference from a bee colony's natural predators like bears and skunks which tend to be dark-colored and furry. The beekeeping suit also gives the beekeeper a way to remove stings and venom sacs simply with a tug on the clothing. Protective clothing may also hinder or reduce the venom from the bee-stings from entering into the body. The stings that are left in the fabric of the suit will continue to pump out an alarm pheromone that attracts aggressive action and further stinging attacks from the bees. In order to reduce the risk of the bees picking up the sent the next time that the beekeeper visits the hive, the suit should be washed regularly. They can also rinse their hands in vinegar to minimize the bee’s attraction.