Bee Tech: Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

As a professional bee tech, part of my job is to bee prepared to do the job.  Whether the job is coaching a beekeeper working their hives, leading an applied beekeeping skills worker or do a live bee rescue, having the appropriate PPE on hand is important.

When we’re talking about beekeeping PPE, that includes hats, veils, jackets, gloves, eye protection, cuff straps, etc…

The primary reason to wear gear is to keep yourself calm, in control and not distracted.  The more you are able to be those things, the better you will do at keeping bees calm and perform higher quality work.

I hate to wear gear.  It makes me hot and uncomfortable.  If I find that I don’t need it, the situation doesn’t call for it, I will keep it handy but not put it on.  As it is, because I do wear it so often, I have a ventilated jacket.

Having said that, if I even suspect that there might be a call for wearing gear, I suck it up and wear the gear.  Personal comfort is important, but not at the risk of getting yourself or others hurt or bees distressed.

If nothing else anymore I almost always wear a hat and evil.  The bees seem to hate my hair.  They fly by, get tangled and sting my head.  Not fun.  So, at least that much.

Wearing cuff straps over shirt/ jacket sleeves and pants legs can be invaluable to keep bees from marching into clothing while working bees before sunrise or after sunset.  If you have no cuff straps, tucking cuffs into boots and gloves can work also

Eye protection.  This may seem redundant when wearing a veil.  However, especially when working a cut-out, debris can blow through the screen of the veil and get into your eyes.  Not a good scenario when your full attention is necessary.

Beyond the safety reasons, especially when being a professional beekeeper or technician, people have expectations as to what a “professional” they are paying (sometimes a lot of money) should look like.  As it is beekeeping related, they expect to see the hat\veil and at least a jacket.

Personally, I beelieve that making a professional appearance is important to encouraging people to take live bee removal services as a viable alternative to extermination.

Keep in mind though that most of my clients are property management companies and private business properties such as camping venues, etc… whose business insurance requirements necessitate they contract with a professional service.

You know the old saying about dressing for the job you want.  They want a professional beekeeper.  They expect to see one that they can recognize as such.

The PPE you have and use is just as valuable to you as any smoker, hive tool or hive equipment.  It can mean the difference between a positive beekeeping experience and an unsuccessful, frustrating beekeeping experience.


IPM Controls – Exclusion

As a professional “bee tech”  I am big on including Integrated Pest Management controls both in my beekeeping as well as in my bed removals.

One of the most effective and cost efficient strategies is exclusion.  That is, to prevent pest entry into the “protected” space we are working with.  There are several tactics we can implement to establish and maintain a preventative, exclusionary strategy

There are a variety of controls that are available to implement according to the different categories.

  1. Regulatory
    1. set rules about conduct and handling tools and equipment to prevent cross-contamination and spread of pests, diseases, environmental issues, etc…
  2. Environmental
    1. Introduce specific parasitic and predatory animals that control populations of pests that threaten bee hive’s.
      1. Bat houses.  Bats eat moths such as greater wax moths.
      2. Parasitic wasps.  Certain wasps can be introduced to kill pests such as Small Hive Beetle larvae that pupate in the ground around hives.
  3. Mechanical
    1. Screen mesh can block entrances yet allow ventilation.  Especially useful in preventing robbing during dearth and having to close hive entrances during transportation and seclusion during nearby pesticide applications.
  4. Chemical
    1. “Soft” chemical applications such as cedar oil in and around the hives can help as a repellent to hive pests and resist environmental conditions such as mold, mildew, etc…

These are just a few potential exclusionary tactics that can bee implemented to prevent and reduce pest populations in and around hives.  They can be implemented independently or in conjunction with others.

By working to exclude pest presence, we can reduce and perhaps eliminate the need for stronger and preventable control tactics down the line.