Why are bee suits white?
Why are bee suits white? Good question. Presumably bee suits are white because honey bees don’t like black. I’ve read that bees will attack dark things that move because they think that they are bears or skunks or raccoons. I’ve also read that bees will attack dark areas of the body such as the eyes.
But here’s one that tops all: I’ve read that if you wear pink, honey bees will gather around you because they think you are a flower. Really?
These explanations leave unanswered questions. For example, there are many colors that are neither black nor white nor pink. How do they affect the bees?
Also, if bees are so focused on black, why is it that most bee suits—especially the types with built-in hoods—have black netting over your face and eyes? Shouldn’t that be the very last place to be black? If you wear a white suit and a black veil are you not making your face a target?
Honey bees are not easily deceived
I was asked for my opinion on this, so here it is: I think bees are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Honey bees know you are a “threat” because you move and breathe and pry open their homes. They are not going to change their minds about you if you wear white, or blue, or pink polka dots. And trust me, they know you are not a flower.
I’ve worn light clothes and dark clothes and never noticed a difference in bee behavior. I’ve worn black veils and white veils, too, and saw no change. In my opinion, the aggressiveness of honey bees is more dependent on the variety, the season, the colony life cycle, the time of day, the temperature, the state of the queen, and the health of the colony. You can dress like a snowman, but you’re not going to fool your bees.
At least one company I know of—B.J. Sherriff in the U.K.—sells bee suits in colors. Way to go. Last I checked they had orange, blue, aqua and other choices as well. I’ve also seen pictures of bee suits made in forest camouflage, which also seems to make sense.
What I really want is a dingy gray suit with pre-printed brownish orange stripes across the front and green stains on the legs and seat. That is what mine look like after a few weeks anyway, so why not start there? The bees are busy being bees . . . and they just don’t seem to care.
Honey Bee Suite