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.
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.
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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.
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.