Oxford Bees

Packed in a protective atmosphere

Submitted by will on Sun, 14/08/2016 - 18:07

A bee protects by using its' sting. A bee keeper protects by using a bee suit. I'm trying to improve my protection.

Small colonies are relatively easy to deal with. There are fewer boxes and fewer flying bees to defend the hive. Bigger hives are open for longer and they have more of the mature, defensive bees.

Stings are generally not a problem. I've had some bad reactions - particularly when I was stung on the nose - but they usually just itch. The bad reactions happen when the sting doesn't hit the fleshy bits. I suspect that the worst reactions happen when the venom gets into my lymphatic system. My white blood cells react and there's swelling. I'm lucky not to be sensitised to stings. Some people react very badly.

Assuming that the suit is sound (no holes) and properly put on (zip up around the hood!) then that ought to work. It's advisable to wear a layer underneath too.

The problems (for me) have been at my ankles, hands and wrists. The bees go mad for my ankles. Wellington boots or spats are needed for ankles. Without these I used plastic bags as a (desperate) solution today. Marigold gloves covered with latex medical gloves work for hands. Rubber bands seal the cuffs of the gloves. I think that there are even gauntlet marigold gloves which I might look for. The gauntlet leather gloves have proven too clumsy; too difficult to clean and not sufficient to protect from an angry colony.

All of this covering makes me sweaty. I'm boil in the bag. I poured sweat out of the marigolds; there were beads of sweat on my body when I took the suit off.

Paul showed me his suit. It has a layer which looks like a string vest all over. It keeps the bees a sufficient distance from his skin whilst allowing ventilation. Quite a bit more expensive but effective. How much is it worth to avoid stings?