As beekeepers, we are frequently asked questions like: “Have you ever been stung?” “Doesn’t it hurt?” and “You get stung?! Don’t you wear a suit?”
“Have you ever been stung?”
We have been stung, many times. I think that just goes with the territory of being a beekeeper. However, by taking the proper precautions, bee stings can be minimized and mostly avoided. Before we start into the hives there are a couple things we do:
1. Suit Up – Even on hot summer days when we are digging into the hives, we put on our suits and gloves.
2. Fire up the Smoker – Running a smoker while working with the bees will help subdue them. Please be mindful of how much smoke you are pumping out though, would you want your home filled with smoke?
3. Do Your Mental Checklist – Before you open up the hives and get the bees all stirred up, only to realize you don’t have all of the tools you need for the job, do a quick check that you are ready for the job you came to do. It is best for the bees’ sake for you to go in with a purpose, then to smoothly and quickly move through your necessary tasks.
“Doesn’t it hurt?”
Yes! Bee stings are not a fun thing that we look forward to happening. We did not become beekeepers with the hopes and joyful anticipation of getting stung… we just realized it would be an uncomfortable, yet (hopefully) an infrequent part of the hobby. Luckily for Matt, if he gets stung, I have to get him ICE CREAM! Sometimes I think he hopes to get stung so that he gets his sweet medicine!
“You get stung?! Don’t you wear a suit?”
This point seems to be one of the more concerning to people. Yes, we wear suits every time we are inspecting hives or harvesting honey. No, the suits we wear are not 100% protection from bee stings. Recently, I bought a new suit for Matt, it arrived with a cute little note reminding us that suits do not guarantee stings will not happen.
You are wondering, “So what’s the deal with suits then and why bother wearing them?”
1. Although not 100% protection from stings, they definitely deter and put a barrier between you and the bees.
2. The white suit make it very easy to see any bees that are crawling around on you, so you can be mindful of not crushing them or not accidentally carrying one around with you.
3. It is a layer you can shed when needed.
4. The hat and veil genuinely do a good job protecting your face and neck. Let’s be real, protecting the money maker is really our #1 priority!