|Humble Bee 420-L Aerated Beekeeping Suit||Max Protect Bee Suit||Ultra Breeze Bee Suit
|Suit Type||3 Layer Ventilated beekeeping Suit with round veil||Cotton beekeeping Suit with Hood veil||3 Layer Breathable beekeeping Suit with hood veil|
|Fabric||Aerated 100% synthetic (220 gsm) with lightweight foam inside||100% Fine Cotton, 240 GSM||Ventilated synthetic mesh fabric with foam rubber between layers|
|Veil||Removable round veil||Removable, Non-Flammable Hood veil||Detachable Hood Veil|
|Pockets||3 double-stitched front pockets, 4 ballistic nylon hive tool pockets||2 Top Pockets, 2 Thigh Pockets, 2 Leg Tool Pockets, all with Velcro Seals||2 Thigh Pockets, 2 Leg Hive Tool Pockets, all made from mesh fabrics|
|Zips||Leg: 2 Brass Zipper on the short canvas at the suit bottom|
Body: 1 Brass Zipper
Veil: 1 Brass Zipper
|Leg: 2 Metal YKK Ankle Zips|
Body: 1 Metal YKK Zip
Veil: 1 Metal YKK Zip
|Leg: 2 Brass YKK Zipper of the entire length of the leg
Body: 1 Brass YKK Zipper
Veil: 1 Brass YKK Zipper
|Velcro Seals||Pockets; the connection point of the main zipper and veil||Veil/Body: 2 Multi-point Front|
Pockets: 2 Top
|On the connection point of the main zipper and veil|
|Colors||1 color is available: white||3 colors are available: white, pink, camouflage||1 color is available: white|
|Sizes||8 sizes: XX-Small, X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large, XXX-Large||7 sizes: L, M, S, XL, XS, XXL, XXXL||6 sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large|
Main features of beekeeping protective clothing
The hood veil could be irritating to some beekeepers – when the design is off, it’s difficult to see because the hood may hang too low. The peripheral eyesight is also inadequate with this veil design. Notwithstanding that, I wear a hood veil and I recommend it. It’s good for unhurried and painstaking work – for example, bee removal. Anyway, all bee suits are slightly awkward, but you get used it when you became more practiced after some time.
The square veil is often the most inexpensive choice. It consists of two parts, a hardhat and mesh veil which you need to buy separately. To save some money, you can just buy the veil and use it with any old hat. For example, I know beekeepers using lifeguard hats for this purpose. As for me, I don’t like the square veils that come in two parts because of less protection and always rotate around my head and I need to straighten it all the time.
Provides the best visibility, but it’s really unwieldy and uncomfortable.
Best bee suit for me
My best choice, for now, is Ultra Breeze bee suit – it’s great that on hot days, I can wear only sports underwear underneath bee suit and stay sting proof. I think the Ultra Breeze is the best beekeeping suit, but the price is the same – my suit cost me $259. Beware of bee suit with suspiciously similar design from other companies (I mean not Ultra Breeze), because Ultra Breeze was copied and retailed with different versions for the lower price. As you might guess, quality of these bee suits absolutely doesn’t match the original. Of course, in such suits, most likely there will not be additional details and functions, which are in fact have great practical importance. These suits were developed by professionals, and if something is not obvious initially, it will come in handy with time. So if you don’t have enough money for original Ultra Breeze beekeeping suit, don’t look for something with a similar look – better find a trusted supplier of beekeeping products and take a suit from them.
I went ahead and went with the full suit instead of the jacket just to give me that extra comfort. Before when I went with the full suit it was so much time consuming to get dressed out with the other gear! I go in the house, put on the thermals, the pants and the thermal top. Then I come outside and put on the gloves, the jacket and then tie my pants legs with some string or tape so that the bees can’t climb up pants legs. That’s is a significant reason I went with the full suit. It’s got some very tight elastic or zippers around the legs and I shouldn’t have to fool with the extra step of putting the string or tape around my ankles.
Today I will tell you about the three most popular suits so that you can make your choice.
Humble Bee 420-L Aerated Beekeeping Suit
Let’s talk about this suit. First, we’ll start down at the bottom. The suit comes with the zippered legs. Not very long, so depending on what boots size you have on you may or may not have to take them off. As for me, I could get a suit on without taking off my boot. These do come with elastic straps down at the bottom to put over your boot and hold it down. This is really important because without them these can ride up and a bee could easily sting through.
So those elastic straps are important – no matter what I’m doing it keeps it down below where my boot is. Suit bottom also has a small section of canvas, so if you have pants on underneath here as well as socks you probably have enough sufficient layers, but these are designed to wear with shorts. I mean that’s why they’re ventilated so that you actually get air moving through. Conceivably you’ve got this layer of padded protection underneath and an only thin layer of canvas which bees could sting through if you had thin socks. So if you are allergic to bees you might want to have rubber boots or something taller above to protect your ankle or leg from getting stung.
Like many of these ventilated suits, this is just a thin rubber material, a similar to what you might put for padding inside of drawers or something like that.
It’s just a foam grid pattern that’s sewn in between two layers of mesh fabric. But despite the fact that the suit is a mesh of rubber, if you are out working on it with your bees in the summer it gets really hot. And the difference between a non-ventilated suit and even just a cotton suit and these is incredible. When a breeze comes through this suit and you are sweating it feels so good to have air come through. This greatly facilitates work and well-being on warm days.
The idea here is that it is thick enough and bee would not be able to sting if it was on the suit or if it did it – would just barely be able to touch your skin and probably would not be able to get the stinger down into your skin.
What’s about specifics in the upper part of this humble bee suit – it does have elastic thumb holds which are really useful. When you put your gloves on the sleeves stay in place as you pull your gloves up over this.
It has different pockets (and hive tool pocket as well) on the front side. Although they’re designed more like pant pockets on jeans, not very comfortable. One pocket even starting to tear away a little bit after few days of usage. It seems to me that the problem is because the pockets have non-ergonomic corners at the top, which are constantly touched by tools and begin to come off.
And second reason that it’s just a single seam on all these it’s not double stitched anywhere. But in general, the location of the pockets is convenient – tools are readily available.
This suit does come with sleeve pockets where you also can put a hive tool, but it would be really annoying because it’s so sharp that it snags.
Suppose you could stick pens in here if you’re keeping a beekeeping journal or log about your hives. In addition, there are no clasps – heavy objects such as the same hive tool will constantly fall out of your pocket, as soon as you bend your hand. If it was up it would be easier to reach, more so I’m having to actually reach around behind so that’s not really a great placement. The same pocket is also on the other hand. There is also a pocket on my chest – most often I put a cell phone.
This bee suite comes with a brass zipper. Such zipper is the last longer and tougher, but I think there are some drawbacks to this particular suit not so much because of the brass zippers, but just because the way the suit is designed. If I zip this shoot up all the way in order to get protection while unfastening the hood so that it hangs from behind, the zipper strikes hard against the neck with its weight and this is choking me.
It’s not that the suit is small for me – even if it’s worn by those to whom it’s large, the zipper is still pressing, it’s a feature of this bee suite. So that’s one issue. A second issue is different from the other suits in this review. When I go to put the hood on as it hangs back there I have to pull this over and it is a little tricky getting hood on, especially if you want to have a hat on underneath. It’s not exactly the easiest thing to do so – hat sits up on underneath on top, pull down and then grab the two zippers on the side and this is a challenge. I will say with the brass zippers are really don’t zip smoothly unless you’re using both hands and working this around underneath. When you get this under here get these folded over you have the main zipper goes up above it and then you have this velcro flap that comes down. In theory, bees can’t really very easily work their way to get inside your hood.
I will say that at the time we’ve had the suit have never had a bee ever work its way in here. But little things about this – the top of the hood’s hat is the canvas. That’s important because without a hat a bee can easily sting through this canvas into my head. Two times I have been stung here. I’ve been stung other places and did not have that reaction. That’s why for me protecting my head is honestly one of the most important parts of the bee suit. So the fact that this is canvas up here is a concern and why I wear a hat underneath it to create an additional buffer of protection.
Other things that you need to look at is so if I turn my head in this suit the mesh goes up against my ear and my skin and that would certainly be a place where a bee could sting me. So you got this whole suit on and what we know about honeybees is that they have figured out over the years to go for the head of any creature that is going at their hive. Whether it’s a bear, a raccoon, a beekeeper or anything else is trying to get – they go for its face. And if you’ve worked with bees long enough you might have noticed they definitely go for your head with greater zeal than to your whole body they when they’re irritated. This is a real liability for someone who has bee sting allergy in a bee suit that it’s actually can hit ear through the mesh. But on the upside you have more airflow coming through on your head, but as for me – I’m more concerned about this.
The second big issue with this is bee suit if I bend over basic zipper starts to pull right at that point where it’s actually choking me and cutting blood flow to my head. It is really uncomfortable. The same is true with other people who are lower than me wearing the same large suit has that same effect. So it’s an issue with the design of the suit independently of size.
This suit does have on the back a place where you can hang the suit up. This is good because you will get these things wet with sweat probably and they do need to hang up. But it’s a very small hole to put the hook through.
A second thing if you want to detach the hood you have to zip all the way around and start back at the very going the wrong way. I think so you have to move both of these all the way back around in order to take the hood off of this suit and exactly the easiest thing. If you want to take the hood off for some reason you have to go all the way back.
Ultra Breeze Bee Suit
It has been some kind of hot last summer so my sister went ahead and sprung for the ultra breeze beekeeping suit. I’ve also had a good chance to test it as well.
Ultra Breeze bee suit is really heavy, and from the beginning, it seems not very comfortable stuff at all. It’s just as heavy as jeans because it’s made of dense cotton fabric. The neck part around the veil is fairly breathable, I love it very much. Aeration here is better than in other bee suits. Did the bees sting me through this suit? Yes, two times. And both stings at different times fell on my arm. I should note that at that moment on my hands there were only simple nitrile gloves, long to the wrist. It was a light project just like getting honey out of the honey supers and I was not actually doing a full inspection of the hive. That’s why I did not pay much attention to the protection of the hands and was immediately given a lesson.
So, Ultra breeze is pricey, most of your full body suits are 150 bucks.
I was wearing it with lightweight shorts and t-shirt. In hot days you can also wear a do-rag to keep the sweat out of your eyes. Hood is a veil type that is used here, and you can’t change it to round or square – because that’s all Ultra breeze offer. It says in the paperwork that a veil tends to have problems more than the suit itself and you can repair the veil with duct tape. Ultra breeze offers the veil separately. It was really excited to read that but I’ve got a funny feeling it’s surely because people throw the veil in the washing machine with the suit and that’s probably where the damage comes from. My sister usually takes the veil off and hand washes it.
It has three layers. Outside layer is of real fine mesh, there are the pockets of mesh everything’s mesh. Inside layer, that contacts your body, is actually not quite as fine mesh as the outside. This layer got bigger holes in it almost like a dip net material. In between is foam rubber like a mesh and it’s about a quarter inch thick, maybe even more. Thick little beads going together, it provides an excellent protection against wasps and honeybees.
Here it’s got extremely long legs zipper. If first I ought to make it easy to get in and out. Of course, it also got the front zipper as well. It’s very long to help you climb in and out of the beekeeping suit. The process of putting the bee suit on looks like this – first you unzip fastener on the legs to the very top (almost to the hip), pass the legs, pull the upper part of the suit, put your hands in your sleeves, fasten front zip, and only after than fasten zippers on your legs. Very easy and fast, like this decision very much. And finally, you put on the hood veil that hangs from behind. Done!
Velcro wrist closures and brass zippers are very high quality.
Despite the fact that I look like a spaceman when I wear this suit, I can say with confidence that it is the most lightweight and breezy. Such an impression that I did not even wear it and still stand in a T-shirt and shorts. Really feel like blowing coming right through it.
This suit got very deep pockets on each leg for your hive tools. If you’re left-handed or right-handed or prone to lose your hive tool you’ve got a spot to put two of them and I doubt they’re gonna fall out.
Natural Apiary Max Protect
This is a maximum protection bee suit and this is Natural Apiary’s stubborn version or sovereign. Wearing this bee suit you do not have to walk away from even the most hostile and extremely defensive insects. We’re talking maximum protection not because we don’t understand the bee behavior or how to work gently with the bees. Not every bee species and not every bee line is passive. Some of these bees are going to be massively defensive, especially when you get into their brood frames. Also different times of year they’re going to be defensive. If you don’t have enough protection gear you can be scared, uncomfortable and simply in danger, especially if you are a beginner beekeeper.
This type of bee suit some people don’t like. My parents have two such bee suits (white and camouflage colors). I personally love it. You know full-size bee suits are good for anything – my mom uses camouflage one when she is doing yard work or got a painting project. They’re multi-purpose you can wear these suit for a lot of different things.
The weave of the cloth is really fine. This bee suit is made of heavy-duty canvas. And although the material is excellent, it’s not vented. But the whole top of this bee suit is to intercept the sting. It’s also to provide an air gap between you and that stinger getting to your skin you. Many beekeepers also want to be protected from a wasp, hornet or Africanized bee stings – so Max Protect an excellent solution to this situation. You don’t need to wear additional clothes (besides shorts and a T-shirt) underneath, just can provide more the air between you and the bee suit by purchasing a loose suit of a larger size.
All the zippers come together. This is pretty common with other bee companies bee suits that once all your zippers have come together, that opening. There is velcro to be closed – I do not want any opportunity for any stingers to get in. I know some people will wear a baseball hat inside of the bee suit to push the veil out from their face. But if you want to be able to get a camera right up against your face and you want to check out the viewfinder – don’t wear anything else. I have never had a circumstance where a bee has been able to sting the veil and get through and reach my skin.
Some people like to tape up the legs on these things. It’s got the zipper and the little elastic strap that goes every foot and I put these inside my boots. I see a lot of beekeepers putting it outside. I mean to put it on the inside of the cuff because bees start on the ground. There are often a lot of bees on the ground and they’ll follow your boots up and then just walk right up the pant leg. If you put the pant leg over the top of your boots now you have to tape it or something like that. So put these inside of your knee-high boots. After years of tying cuffs together and wearing boots to keep bees from going up to the pants, my parents feel completely at ease.
It’s pretty standard as far as everything else goes, but it seems to me to be a well thought out design from the fabric to the zippers. Here you have 6 pockets. They are arranged in pairs symmetrically – on the top, thigh, and legs. Leg pockets are made for hive tools, as usual. Each has a Velcro seal, so content will not fall out when you bend, sit or work. Besides pockets, there is plenty of Velcro to seal up all vulnerable gaps.
Tight bands around the wrists keep gloves secured.
Hood veil very comfortable, very easy to see out and had good ventilation. It comes with a nice baseball cap to wear under the mesh mask to hold it up over your face.
The entire top half unzips and extra long zippers on the legs make it really easy to get in and out of.
Whatever your measurements are, bump up to the next size (if you plan to work with particularly aggressive insects, order bee suit one size larger as indicated above). My mother measured for a small and it was too small. She returned it with no problem and they sent her the next size up.
Natural Apiary bee suit comparison
My mom purchased the APIARIST Beekeeping Suit (complete, all-in-one Natural Apiary beekeeping suit) with fencing veil (color – khaki, size – XX-large) in August of 2015 and had almost a full year of use before she received pink XX-large MAX PROTECT beekeeping suit.
She has owned it for a month and put it through its paces, doing inspections and hive treatments.
This suit has elasticized wrists and ankles, and elastic thumb loops at the end of the sleeves like the previous suit. The longer zippers on the legs are a good addition, making the suit easier to take on and off, but there are a few more notable differences between this suit and the first suit from Natural Apiary she owned.
The first thing she noticed is air circulation in the suit. The overall weight of the suit is lighter, and while wearing the suit, you can feel the breeze come through the fabric a little better.
The second is the changes in the fencing veil. Her old suit has a metal-type screen and the new suit has a fabric-type mesh. She liked the metal of the old suit, but it is prone to becoming misshapen if you end up throwing it in the back of your car like she does after some inspections. The mesh and the veil overall hang away from your face better than the previous suit because it won’t bend, but also because of the way the suit is constructed.
On the old suit, the zipper for the veil is more in a circular fashion all the way around. On the new suit, the zipper for the veil makes like an upside down “U” shape. It comes down away from your face at the front and zips more straight across, which is an improvement.
So, what bee suit to get is one of the biggest challenges. Some things are pretty straightforward but in other cases, there are so many seemingly good options. Protection is a real concern for me more so than it might be for other beekeepers. I hope I’ve made sense with this article and this helps you when you’re choosing your own bee suit.
The Natural Apiary full suit is my maximum protection suit and for the gloves – again it would be the Natural Apiary cowhide gloves. If you need more dexterity then I guess their goatskin gloves are pretty nice too. If you’re wearing a full bee suit and all the protective stuff that doesn’t mean you’re a bad beekeeper. It just means you don’t want to be stung.