Working hives with no PPE

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Dansar

Founder Member
BOP Club
6,152
5,638
Putaruru
Experience
Commercial
I have selected traits from calm bees to graft for a few years now, still get the Occassional grumpy one.
At best I work gloveless, very rarely with no veil, for fear of damaging my rugged good looksšŸ¤£ And the obvious inconvenience of swollen facial parts.
I do on occasion have a peek under the lid of nucs with no protection as you get feel for hive temperament, and often smaller colonies are calmer by nature any way.

I see some videos where beekeepers are working with no PPE, are they just taking the hits or do they genuinely have bees that are that passive?
 
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Otto

Gold
74
164
Dunedin
Experience
Semi Commercial
Today was a nice day and I went through an apiary and made a whole bunch of splits. At no point did I have a veil on. The only gloves I own are blue nitrile ones for handling treatments. I do get stung in the hands a bit but usually only from accidentally squashing a bee I didn't see. The stings barely bother me.
Gentle bees make a big difference but part of it is you being gentle when you are working the bees. This is something quite a few beekeepers do not know how to or simply refuse to do.
 
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193
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Southland
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I have selected traits from calm bees to graft for a few years now, still get the Occassional grumpy one.
At best I work gloveless, very rarely with no veil, for fear of damaging my rugged good looksšŸ¤£ And the obvious inconvenience of swollen facial parts.
I do on occasion have a peek under the lid of nucs with no protection as you get feel for hive temperament, and often smaller colonies are calmer by nature any way.

I see some videos where beekeepers are working with no PPE, are they just taking the hits or do they genuinely have bees that are that passive?
We do have mostly very calm bees here too, but I do prefer to wear my gear. Stops me being distracted by getting tickled and then stung, keeps the pain and frustration at a minimum and I can work faster. My boys often don't wear gloves because they like it better and sometimes no veil, but only for certain jobs. Sometimes people try to make a statement with not wearing PPE as being the 'better' or more sensitive beekeeper, I think that's BS, it'd be like saying not wearing a seatbelt makes you a better driver.
 

Alastair

Founder Member
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Auckland
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Semi Commercial
Sometimes people try to make a statement with not wearing PPE as being the 'better' or more sensitive beekeeper, I think that's BS, it'd be like saying not wearing a seatbelt makes you a better driver.

I pretty much never wear gloves, and mostly work with no veil. It is not to make a statement, 90% of the time there is nobody else there to make the statement to.
It is because it's cooler, I like it that way, I eradicate unfriendly bees that mess with the plan, and I was trained that way by my first boss of 2 years who didn't like veils and pretty much forced me to learn how to work bees with no veil. He also often worked in shorts but I never quite got to that level šŸ˜®.

As to being more sensitive to the bees, I would say yes. I can work a hive without riling them up. I don't see this in many other beekeepers, most people kit up with full suit and gloves, then just open up and grind and graunch things without too much care. If I'm with another beekeeper who is suited up, it's virtually guaranteed I will have to suit up, or the angry bees from his / her hive will paste me.

Just, explaining my reasons, after a lifetime of being accused of only going veil less to pretend I'm better. It's not that I just prefer it.
 

Otto

Gold
74
164
Dunedin
Experience
Semi Commercial
I pretty much never wear gloves, and mostly work with no veil. It is not to make a statement, 90% of the time there is nobody else there to make the statement to.
It is because it's cooler, I like it that way, I eradicate unfriendly bees that mess with the plan, and I was trained that way by my first boss of 2 years who didn't like veils and pretty much forced me to learn how to work bees with no veil. He also often worked in shorts but I never quite got to that level šŸ˜®.

As to being more sensitive to the bees, I would say yes. I can work a hive without riling them up. I don't see this in many other beekeepers, most people kit up with full suit and gloves, then just open up and grind and graunch things without too much care. If I'm with another beekeeper who is suited up, it's virtually guaranteed I will have to suit up, or the angry bees from his / her hive will paste me.

Just, explaining my reasons, after a lifetime of being accused of only going veil less to pretend I'm better. It's not that I just prefer it.
Pretty much exactly how I do things and why.
 
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Otto

Gold
74
164
Dunedin
Experience
Semi Commercial
We do have mostly very calm bees here too, but I do prefer to wear my gear. Stops me being distracted by getting tickled and then stung, keeps the pain and frustration at a minimum and I can work faster. My boys often don't wear gloves because they like it better and sometimes no veil, but only for certain jobs. Sometimes people try to make a statement with not wearing PPE as being the 'better' or more sensitive beekeeper, I think that's BS, it'd be like saying not wearing a seatbelt makes you a better driver.
It has nothing to do with making a statement, only feeling comfortable while working with bees. I find I am significantly less comfortable with beekeeping gloves on, both from overheating and from how clumsy they are to work in. On a nice spring day I certainly prefer to work without a veil. It is nice to be out in the sunshine and visibility is better without a veil.
You should always wear what you need in the way of protective gear to make it comfortable for you.
 
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maungaturoto
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yes you can work bees fine with no gear on.
however there is always one hive that will disagree with you and that turns a nice day into one that very unpleasant.
i know beeks who come in with faces all swollen etc.

sometimes all it takes is to accidently squish one bee on you and the rest will turn and attack.
the worse i had was about 40 stings on each hand, even tho i had gloves on, each hand look like a hedgehog. i walked away with bees still attack and one of the lad took over that hives and they ignored him. they where really going for the smell on my gloves.

the other thing is accidents do happen. hives get dropped/knocked, frames get dropped. quiet hive turns nasty quick.

for me these days it s more about keeping clean. always have a veil. if things go wrong you want to protect the face.
gloves, even just really thin ones, just to keep the hands clean. bees sting right through them. i don't wear a suit if its only minor stuff, but dress up when doing a lot. at least i get to go home in clean clothes.
 
5,577
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canterbury
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Me old mate BRS used to keep bees in shorts and a tatty veil pulled over a beanie.
The veil had a hole in it for the dart.
He used to get a upptty when we were too rough on the bees and he took a few hits.

I prefer to wear overalls to keep my Wranglers clean, and a veil and smoker as i hate to get stun g up the nose, but rarely wear gloves as I like to be hands on .
 
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716
563
Christchurch
Experience
Semi Commercial
I find overalls just too hot. Now preferring a vented jacket and, in the height of summer, ā€œthe Braā€ singlet veil over a tee. No gloves because I need the dexterity, and I always got frustrated with gloves sticking to frames. I think I work fairly slow, but steady. I certainly use to drop more frames with gloves.

I work queen mating nucs without a veil sometimes as they are typically placid. But I really donā€™t like stings on the face, so usually use a veil.
 

mischief

Gold
45
17
Putaruru
Experience
Hobbyist
I find overalls just too hot. Now preferring a vented jacket and, in the height of summer, ā€œthe Braā€ singlet veil over a tee. No gloves because I need the dexterity, and I always got frustrated with gloves sticking to frames. I think I work fairly slow, but steady. I certainly use to drop more frames with gloves.

I work queen mating nucs without a veil sometimes as they are typically placid. But I really donā€™t like stings on the face, so usually use a veil.
Yep, I got a frame grip after seeing one of Trevor's (I think) vid's, so no more dropped frames.
I did start going gloveless but after getting 9 stings to one hand I went back to gloves, even though I realised that they had only stung me cos the smoker was spitting sparks at them. Didnt see those but felt them when I picked up the smoker.

Used to use the blue nitrile gloves but found they got stuck to the frames and made my hands really sweaty.

One time, in year one, I accidentally didnt put the hood of my jacket on.It wasnt til I finished up and went to unzip it that I realised that I still had my Japanesestyle long and wide brimmed bonnet on from gardening earlier in the day.
 

Alastair

Founder Member
8,174
9,409
Auckland
Experience
Semi Commercial
Here's how I like to work bees, no suit stay cool. Had to wear a veil cos of heavy machinery and another person helping. Making nucs and supering up.

 


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