Beekeeping 101 - Wearing Protective Equipment
The first and most important rule to consider when it comes to wearing protective gear is: "Wear what makes you comfortable working bees."
Most important is a veil, which protects the face, the most sought-after target for guard bees. Veils can be free standing, that is without a helmet, or attached to a pith-type helmet. They can be made from plastic or other material like metal screening. Almost any hat that keeps the veil material off the face and neck will work. Veils usually have a mesh bottom that is snugged down over the collar onto the shoulders with a variety of ties and strings. This keeps bees out, providing there are no gaps or holes. Veils that attach to the bee suit with a zipper are popular, mostly because they are convenient, easily maintained and virtually bee proof. They are also more expensive.
Bee suits are light in color but many wear whats available simply to keep their clothes clean. The white coverall suit with a variety of pockets, cuffs and attachments is most popular. White is also the most difficult to keep clean. They are made from a variety of materials: cotton, cotton blends and synthetics, each with its own peculiar attributes. Suits should be roomy to allow bending and stretching and lifting room and for other clothes underneath. This also keeps the suit from stretching tautly over the skin underneath; leaving a vulnerable spot for stings.
Seasoned beekeepers seldom wear gloves because they feel they lose that delicate touch. However, most beginners start with them. Most gloves have cloth gauntlets of some type to seal the sleeves of the bee suit. Glove materials range from full leather to plastic to split leather to rubber. Some are ventilated, others have no fingers. Gloves can mean the difference between staying with beekeeping or not for a beginner, and wearing them can help build the confidence and experience necessary to continue. As one gains experience, the finger tips can be cut off, which still protects most of the hand, while ensuring a more sensitive manipulation.
Boots and pants-cuff clasps range from high-top rubber boots to baling twine. The goal is to keep bees on the ground from crawling up pants legs - an unnerving experience. Comfort and durability and safety and cost are all important.