We get a lot of inquiries about our use (or lack thereof) of protective gear when we work the bees. And it is true, I do not own a bee suit or gloves, and use my veil sparingly. You are likely to find me in the hives in shorts and a tee-shirt in summer, and on my roof generally in bare feet.
There are a couple of reasons for that:
- I'm lazy;
- Vision is hampered in a veil, especially if one is looking for eggs;
- Our mission includes promotion of bees as gentle and non-aggressive.
Do I get stung? Absolutely. Sometimes I can get into a hive and have no problems, just a little smoke and they are quiet as mice. Other times, they hit me repeatedly like kamikazes. The former is more generally the outcome.
Does it hurt? Sure, a little, but the lingering affects of swelling are the greater aliment. Thankfully, after hundreds of stings (yes hundreds) I am finally building up a modest resistance to the bee venom.
Note that we take a lot of our cues from the FatBeeMan Don Kuchenmeister who is similarly fearless around his hives.
With our kids, it is a different story. If you have a child, you know how difficult it is to tell them what to do, and if they don't want to wear a veil, like tough love, I leave it up to them. And it has consequences:
This is Kaitlin (our No. 1) after she entered a hive to pull a frame for a bee display she was managing. Note the swelling around the lip, eye, and ego!
So bad parenting? I'm more of the view that raising a kid in a plastic bubble is both unkind and belays the realities they should expect when they reach maturity. So a little controlled pain is not necessarily a fault. Maybe they will wear a veil next time?
Then is it do as I say, not as I do? I think you should decide for yourself what feels most comfortable for you. I think requiring oneself to put on a bulky suit in the middle of summer before hitting the hives might hinder one from spending time there. But at the end of the day it is about personal preference.