What is a Beekeeper Suit?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A beekeeper suit is a set of protective garments that are worn by people who work with bees. Bees that are kept by humans are housed in a structure called an apiary. Beekeepers, who are also called apiarists, generally work with bees so that they can collect and sell honey and beeswax. However, bees are also kept so that they can pollinate crops. Some beekeepers breed bees so that they can be sold to other beekeepers.

The white fabric of a beekeeper suit is so bees know the difference between an apiarist and a predator.
The white fabric of a beekeeper suit is so bees know the difference between an apiarist and a predator.

All of the work of a beekeeper must be done with a great deal of care. Although most people who are not allergic to bees can survive being stung, even those without any allergy to bees can become very ill or die from being attacked by a swarm. For this reason, most apiarists wear a beekeeper suit. While a beekeeper suit is the first line of defense against stings, anyone interacting with bees, especially an entire hive of bees, should first complete safety training for the care and handling of bees.

Special suits protect beekeepers while they collect beeswax and honey.
Special suits protect beekeepers while they collect beeswax and honey.

A beekeeper suit is almost always made completely out of white material. This is because most natural enemies to bees are mammals with dark fur such as bears. The white fabric of a beekeeper suit is intended to help the bees differentiate between apiarists and predators. The suit is designed to cover the entire body, including the head and hands. It does not always cover the feet, but it is designed to be tucked in to boots or shoes.

Beekeeper suits are worn to protect beekeepers that keep bees to pollinate crops.
Beekeeper suits are worn to protect beekeepers that keep bees to pollinate crops.

One of the most important parts of a beekeeper suit is the veil that is worn over the face. Bee stings to the head and neck generally cause much greater irritation than stings on the extremities. While some very experienced apiarists do not wear a full suit, most of them do wear a hat and veil at all times.

A complete beekeeper suit includes a pair of gloves that is made out of material similar in color to the rest of the suit. Because the hands are generally the part of the body that will come in closest contact with the bees, it is important to protect them. In some cases where very delicate work is required, it is difficult to wear gloves. Delicate procedures such as these are completed by very skilled beekeepers. Sometimes in these cases, the beekeepers choose not to wear gloves and are very careful so as not to get stung or to reduce the number of stings.

Individuals who are allergic to bee stings may experience hives.
Individuals who are allergic to bee stings may experience hives.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


@matthewc23 - I have to say that if you want to be a bee keeper you must be totally serious and committed to it. You can do it as a hobby, but you still must have tremendous expertise in bee keeping and understand how dangerous it can be.

It is not unusual for people to die from bee stings and this is especially true for bee keepers. That is why I do not recommend making your own suit, even though it is possible to do safely if you are very careful and take the proper precautions in doing so.


@cardsfan27 - It is perfectly fine and entirely possible to create your own beekeeping suit, but you have to keep in mind the dangers of doing so.

In my experience in buying bee keeping suits they are not horribly expensive and are worth the cost instead of spending the time and effort and money in order to gather the materials to create your own suit.

Being a bee keeper is actually a lot more high risk than people think and it can be a hazardous occupation if one were to make a very big mistake. If a big mistake is made, say a hole in the suit up around the face or neck, it could result in a tragedy with dozens and in some cases hundreds of stings occurring in a short amount of time. That is why the suit is very important and whether you make your own suit or buy a legitimate suit you must make sure you are totally covered and not take for granted holes and places int he suit where you could get stung.


@TreeMan - I think that people have a simple fascination with this type of bee suit simply because it is very different looking and kind of a cool sight to see.

As far as what the bee keeping suit does, it protects you against bee stings when you are caring for the bees and it is something that is not a necessarily expensive thing to have.

You could in fact make your own bee keeping suit as long as you know what type of material to use and take the proper precautions to guard against stings.

If you do make your own bee keeping suit, that is to be used for bee keeping and not as a Halloween costume, the most important thing to consider is the mask. This is the place where bee stings can really hurt and cause a lot of damage, so I would suggest if you make your own suit to go ahead and invest in a real mask and go ahead and pay the money for it.


Many years ago when I started as a beekeeper, I was diligent about always wearing my beekeepers suit and gloves when I was in the bee yard.

The longer you work with them, the more comfortable you feel around them. I very seldom wear gloves anymore when I suit up. The gloves are often cumbersome, and make it hard to pick up the frames and work with the hive tool.

Depending on the weather and time of day will determine whether I wear a full suit or not. If it is a nice sunny day and not close to dusk, many times I don't need much protection if I am just doing a quick check.

For beginners, I would not advise this until you really get a feel for what you are doing. At least wear a jacket and veil, and it is nice to keep one on hand for visitors who may want to check out the honeybees.

We have some people who are very curious about it, and others who don't want to have anything to do with them. It's nice to have more than one suit and extra beekeeping equipment for those who want to take a look with you.


I have always had a fascination we bee keeper suits. I do not know what it is about them, I think it may simply be that they are very different looking, due to their design to protect the person inside from getting stunned. Yet, I feel like a lot of people have a fascination for these suits and I am not alone in thinking this.

Once in awhile around Halloween I will see someone wearing a Halloween costume that consists of a beekeepers suit and I have also seen it at costume parties. I just find this very interesting and wonder what people's fascination with a beekeeping suit is.


About 4 years ago, my husband and I decided to start raising honeybees. We both took a 6 week beekeeping course at a local college. Not only did we learn a lot, but also met other people who had the same interest as we did.

Before the course started, I bought a copy of the Beekeeping for Dummies book and was so excited to start this adventure.

We ordered our beekeeping suits from a bee supply company along with some other supplies we would need to get started.

Our kids kind of make fun of us saying we look like aliens when we are dressed in our suits and working the bees.

By nature, honeybees are gentle bees, but if they feel like their hive is in danger, or someone is going to take their honey, they will let you know they are not happy.

I always wear my full suit when we go to work the bees. On the really hot days, my husband will just wear a jacket and veil because that is much cooler than a full suit.

Wearing the full suit really keeps you fully protected. It seems like they will buzz around your head more than any place else, and I wouldn't work with them if I didn't have my suit on.

I usually wear boots as well when I am fully suited up. Once when we went to catch a swarm, I was in a hurry and just threw on a pair of shoes. The only thing that was exposed was a part of my foot, and that is where I ended up getting stung.

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