Bee suits can be miserable things to wear, so when Terry Chapman of Guardian Bee Apparel asked me to beta test his newly designed bee suit, I was a bit skeptical. After all, how can you fix such a freakish piece of clothing?
But I have to say, Terry and his team came up with a better bee suit. Not only that, they listened to suggestions from everyday beekeepers like me. I was dumbfounded to learn that Terry actually incorporated some of my design suggestions into the final product. How cool is that?
A ventilated suit with lots of pockets
Before I get to the best features, let me explain the basics. The Guardian Bee Suits are ventilated, made with three layers of mesh so you can stay cool and bee-free during the hottest weather. The hood is built-in and the suit has a wide variety of pockets, including two leg and two sleeve pockets for hive tools, two chest pockets, and two extra-large hip pockets.
The sleeves have elastic bands for your thumbs, and the ankles have both under-arch elastic bands and Velcro closures at the ankles. The neck opening, where all the zippers come together, is covered with a Velco tab for those extra-inquisitive guard bees.
The stitching throughout the suit is tight and straight with no loose threads or loopy skips. It even has a nice sewn-in hanging tab at the back of the neck—one of my special requests. Guardian also makes a jacket version for those quick trips to the apiary.
And now the really cool stuff…
All metal zippers with zee space
All the standard plastic zippers have been replaced by heavy-duty metal YKK zippers that will not jam or pop open. To me, a metal zipper is a sign of quality. There is nothing I hate more than a plastic zipper that parts where you last folded your suit. And the zippers have a wide binding on all sides that keeps them from snagging on the fabric. Terry calls this extra-wide margin “zee space.”
Full-length leg zippers
Not only are the zippers metal, but they are looooooong. The leg zippers start at the ankle and go all the way to your hip. I’ve been using one of the beta suits for several months now, and I can easily slip it on right over my boots.
Front zipper system
The zipper system in the front is ultra convenient. It’s called a system because it is a metal zipper with three sliders. The very first time I wore this suit, I got all dressed, walked out to my shed and remembered my keys were in the pocket of my jeans—under the bee suit. This used to mean opening the suit again. But with the zipper system, I can use the two lower sliders to make an opening anywhere. In this case, I was able to reach inside and get my keys in an instant.
The “Easy Access Veil”
Although the leg and front zippers are the coolest things ever, they don’t hold a candle to the patent-pending Easy Access Veil. The hood has a zipper around your face so, without getting undressed, you can open just the front of the veil. Sliders for the zipper are found on both sides of the hood, so you can make the opening as small or as large as you like and from either the left or the right.
You can have a drink of water, push the hair out of your face, use your inhaler, or have a snack—all without removing your hood. I used to forget my glasses until after I was completely tied into my suit. Aggravated no end, I would then have to undo the neck and hood to put them on. Now, a quick zip and it’s done. And today while doing an inspection, I was able to scoop up a drip of honey and have a taste without removing the veil. Sweet! Once you try the Easy Access Veil, you’ll never want to go back.
Kickstarter campaign for the perfect bee suit
In order to get his venture underway, Terry has opened a Kickstarter campaign where you can learn more about his products and preorder your own Guardian Bee Apparel. I encourage you to have a look. Honestly, of all the suits I’ve tried, this is the only one I want to wear. It eclipses all the others in convenience and durability.
Honey Bee Suite