Bee suits you!
Avoiding getting stung
A bee sting is painful, there are no two ways about it; they are unpleasant and can put off a “Newbee” quickly, which is a shame because with care and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) getting stung is mostly preventable.
Although most beekeeping can be done without gloves, if a beekeeper is nervous or inexperienced they are advisable, because bees seem to sense nervousness and anxiety and may be more likely to sting.
Bees crawl upwards so tuck trousers into socks and then wear boots, wellies are fine. We recommend a full bee suit rather than jackets because they give you much more protection as jackets can ride up, and gaps can appear as you bend. Sherriff or BB Wear are good quality UK makes but there are many out there to try. They can be pricey but an essential piece of your kit and something to invest wisely in.
Checking zips and velcro
It seems obvious but check and double check all zips and make sure the Velcro tabs are secure, tuck your sleeves into the gloves then wear gauntlets over the wrists which are notorious sting sites. After your safe “sting-free” bee inspection has been completed walk a good distance away from the site or through an arch or doorway (for some reason bees rarely follow you through). Take your gloves off first and sweep your hands around the back of your neck, back and arms. It is better to get a sting on your hand from a lingering bee than your face or neck. Checks are always made easier if you are working in a pair or group.
What to do if you are stung?
If you get stung during an inspection, blowing smoke over the site can mask the sting pheromone, otherwise the scent will attract other bees to sting in the same spot. Once the hive is closed and you are a safe distance away check the site, remove the sting if it is still in the skin carefully so as not to squeeze more of the bee venom into you, a quick scrape with the blade of your hive tool usually does the trick. Wash with soapy water then use a cold compress to reduce swelling, take some pain relief if you need to. It will turn from painful to itchy then heal. Getting stung in the face causes lots of swelling, this is normal. However if you become short of breath, you come up in hives, your heart starts racing or your tongue, lips or throat swells call 999 as you may be having an allergic reaction ( anaphylaxis) which is more likely on the 2nd sting of a lifetime as the first is the sensitising exposure, but can also be cumulative in that some people get sensitised through lots of exposure to bee related substances.