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Learn About Yellow Jackets vs Hornets – The Key Differences and Similarities

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​Wasps, we all know and fear them. The tiny, yellow-tinted terrors have haunted gardeners picnickers, or anyone enjoying the great outdoors, since time immemorial. They fly into our sodas, chow down on our sandwiches and, worst of all, sting us. They are living nightmares, and we all know them. Or do we? “Wasp” is a broad term, encompassing many, highly different species, including the not at all similar hornet and yellow jacket. And if you want to deal with them more effectively, either as a beekeeper or someone looking to get them off your property, you need to understand the distinction. So read on and uncover: yellow jacket vs hornet, what is the difference?

Difference Number One: Physicality


As broad as the term “wasp” is generally applied, it is an actual category of animal with distinct characteristics. Yellow jackets and hornets are both classified as wasps, meaning they both belong to the Vespidae family and have vertically folded wings and pronotum that expand back to the tegulae, which looks like a triangle when viewed from a lateral perspective.

They also have the same basic body parts, including six legs, two wings, and thin waists. Beyond these basic similarities, however, yellow jackets and hornets look completely different. For starters, yellow jackets are smaller than hornets. On average, yellow jackets are about 1 inch long, while hornets can grow as big as 1.3 inches. The largest hornets can even reach 2.2 inches long. On top of this, while yellow jackets are only black and yellow, hornets vary in color.

European hornets, which are the most commonly found hornets in the continental United States, come in a mixture of red, black and yellow. Even though their abdomens have almost the exact same stripes as that of yellow jackets, their heads and thoraxes are colored red and black. Sometimes they don't even have yellow on them at all. Asian giant hornets, for instance, are predominantly orange. Admittedly, the difference in color can be hard to pick up on. But the difference in size is consistent, and you can use this to separate a yellow jacket vs hornet.

Difference Number Two: Behavior


wasp female worker

Being wasps, yellow jackets and hornets share some similar behavioral patterns. For instance, both insects are predatory. Yellow jackets and hornets both hunt caterpillars and beetles and feed their kills to the grubs back in their nests. Yellow jackets and hornets are also well-known scavengers, showing up around trashcans and above half-eaten candy bars. Where they differ in their eating habits is their likelihood to run into humans.

Yellow jackets are the classic picnic crashers, feeding on sweet liquids and harassing anyone with a soda, juice or piece of fruit. Hornets' diets consist mainly of other insects, and they are therefore far less likely to interact with people. This highlights another, the fundamental difference between hornets and yellow jackets' behavior. Yellow jackets are far more likely to sting people.

A large part of this has to do with the fact that yellow jackets' eating patterns bring them into more regular contact with humans. So, odds are, if you've ever gotten stung by a wasp, it was probably a yellow jacket responsible for your throbbing thumb.

Difference Number Three: Nesting


One of the biggest differences between hornets and yellow jackets is where they make their homes. For a while both build their nests from a papery substance made from wood or mud mixed with saliva, they put those nests in very different locations. Hornets' nests, which resemble giant, tear-drop-shaped cones, have holes in the bottom and can be found pretty much anywhere. Hornets build them in houses, attics, burrows, and garages.

They even attach their nests to ceilings, walls, wooden beams, trees and window sills. Yellow jackets, by contrast, rarely nest above ground. Western and Eastern yellow jackets, specifically, like to build their homes inside dirt. That's because they like confined spaces. They tend to either look for pre-existing tunnels, like abandoned rodent nests, or they make those spaces themselves.

Yellow jackets have developed the means to excavate soil, scraping, carrying and dumping it outside to enlarge the nest. So if you see yellow and black insects rising from the ground, you can be reasonably sure that those are yellow jackets. Also if you see them, take extra special care. Stepping on a yellow jacket nest will aggravate them and lead to you getting stung many, many times.

Yellow Jacket Vs Hornet: Why Should I Care?


wasp hornet insect

Now you might think, “this whole article feels pedantic.” In the grand scheme of things, the difference between yellow jackets and hornets is irrelevant. Why should I care at all? Two reasons, actually. For starters, as much as we might dislike wasps for hovering around our food, and stinging us when we try to swat them away, they serve a purpose. All of them benefit the garden by eating pests, like caterpillars, and pollinating plants.

Some species, however, perform a greater service to us than others. So you want to be sure that what you're disposing of isn't helping rid your garden of vermin. Another reason you should care about the difference between yellow jackets and hornets is that one type of wasp is more likely to sting you and should, therefore, be disposed of. And because they are different, they get disposed of differently. That's the biggest reason you should know the difference, to know how to get rid of their nests and treat a yellow jacket vs hornet sting.

How Do I Deal With A Yellow Jacket Sting?


If a yellow jacket stings you, the first thing you need to do is run. The insects often leave behind a chemical on your skin that marks you as the enemy which incites other yellow jackets to attack. So leave the area as quickly as possible. Also, do not swat at them.

That just makes them mad and increases your likelihood of getting hurt. Be sure to get medical help if you've been stung over 10 times, been stung in the throat or show signs of an allergic reaction, like having trouble breathing, swelling and hives or tightness in the chest. Finally, as soon as you've left the area, apply any of the following to the part of your body that's been stung:

  • ​A paste of baking soda and water
  • ​A meat tenderizer containing papain
  • ​A damp tea bag
  • ​Toothpaste
  • ​Ice
  • ​Preparation H

There are also several commercial sting remedies available, and aspirin and ibuprofen help reduce swelling and pain.

How Do I Get Rid Of A Yellow Jacket Nest?


As mentioned earlier, yellow jackets, hornets and other wasps and bees serve a function in your garden, so, when possible, leave their nests alone. Let them continue to eat bothersome pests, and just allow the cold weather to kill them off at the end of the year. However, if their nest is in a well-traveled area and they pose a threat to public health, it will be necessary to act. The easiest, safest option is to just allow a professional to do it.

hornets insect nest

If, however, you're determined to get it done yourself, follow these steps. First, hang an imitation nest on your deck or patio. It acts as a natural deterrent for yellow jackets and other flying pests. Next, apply control measures on a cool evening. The insects will be home and are more sluggish in cool temperatures.

Wear protective gear, such as beekeeper's attire, and perform one of the following disposal methods.

  • ​Smother them by filling a wheel barrel with ice, dumping it over the hole, covering it with a tarp, and weighing it down with bricks.
  • ​Boil or drown them by pouring 10+ gallons of hot or soapy water into the nest.
  • ​Spraying them with any of the wasp repellants that are available, including organic options that include mint oil.

​Do not pour gasoline, kerosene, or any other flammable substances into the hole. Remember, whatever doesn't kill the insects will infuriate them and cause them to go after you.

How Do I Prevent Nesting?


​If you are looking to prevent wasps from nesting in or near your home, there are many effective methods available. These include:

  • ​Hanging decoy nests
  • ​Creating traps with water, dish soap, and raw meat
  • ​Covering trash cans
  • ​Growing wasp-repelling plants such as wormwood, spearmint, and eucalyptus
hornets vespa crabro

So for all you gardeners or people looking to have a nice summer picnic, remember, not all wasps are the same. Yellow jackets and hornets are actually quite different. Yellow jackets are smaller, live underground, and are much more likely to sting humans because of their love of sugar. Hornets, by contrast, live in hives that hang from just about anywhere, and eat smaller pests, like caterpillars.

Both are beneficial to gardens, since they get rid of vermin, but can become hazardous. Yellow jackets, especially, are known to be more aggressive towards humans and can be dealt with using ice, hot water, or pesticide spray. The point is, when handling wasps, make sure you know which type you're dealing with because knowing your enemy is the best way to win a war. Or don’t and just get stung.

​How to Protect Yourself from Wasp Stings


​Right off the bat, your best bet for keeping yourself safe from serious threats from wasps and hornets alike is to avoid any areas you suspect are hiding wasp populations to any degree.

Because yellow jackets nest underground, they can be a bit more dangerous to those who are trying to avoid them; however, there are effective means of protecting yourself from stings should you come across any.

There are, of course, the extremely effective Epinephrine shots that those with serious allergies can make use of. However, these are not necessarily the most practical option for all people. Some may wish to try visiting an allergist to get venom allergy shots instead. Others can simply resort to dressing in long sleeves and pants to create a physical barrier between themselves and wasps' stingers. Regardless of your approach, it is possible to be safe even if wasps are not entirely avoidable in your area.

How Bees Make Wax – Understanding the Science Behind Beeswax

How Bees Make Wax

Honey bees live in self-manufactured, waxy combs that make up an entire hive. These hives serve as homes and repositories for their food supply (honey, nectar, and pollen) and eggs laid by their queen to produce the next generation of bees. The answer of how bees make wax was once a mystery until science unlocked the mechanics behind the process, revealing an alchemical transformation. This beneficial beeswax is used by bees, other animals, and humans as a food source, a financial tool, and in households and businesses around the world. 

What Is Beeswax?

Beeswax is a complex substance bees secrete to manufacture and repair combs. These waxy combs are a series of interlocking hexagonal shaped tubes composed of fatty acids, hydrocarbons, and proteins. The easiest way to explain beeswax is by saying that it's a secretion produced by worker bees. 

When new beeswax is developed, it's yellow in color. The reason for that is due to the presence of pollen. Then over time, it gets darker and becomes golden yellow. It will turn brown after contact with bees and propolis.

Beeswax remains solid throughout a wide temperature range. It becomes brittle when the temperature drops below 18 degrees Celsius and has a melting point at 64.5 degrees Celsius. That means that the honeycomb can withstand temperature fluctuations from one season to the other. That's important so that the honey bee colony can survive in the heat and the cold.

Why Do Bees Make Wax?

This is one of the aspects that beekeepers first learn. The production of wax is crucial to the vitality of a beehive. Many people assume that bees collect some type of material to build their nests, but they actually produce them!

How Bees Make Beeswax?

The process of how bees make wax is complex and depends on many factors. In a bee colony, there are three types of bees: the queen, the worker, and the drone. The queen mates and lays eggs. Drones are male bees whose sole function is to breed with the queen.

Finally, worker bees are sterile females who do everything, including taking care of and feeding the young, the queen, and the drones; producing wax to create and maintain the hive; cleaning the hive; gathering nectar and pollen; making honey and guarding the nest against enemies. Only young worker bees have wax glands. The oldest worker bees and the queen bee do not have wax glands.

Honeybees develop a special wax-producing gland in their abdomen when they are between 12 and 20 days old. This gland converts sugar into a waxy substance from the sugar and also deposits substance flakes on the abdomen.

Do All Bees Make Wax?

No, not all bees produce wax! Only worker bees do. Worker bees are female and are the only ones that have wax glands. 

The best wax producer are young adults, around 14 to 18 days old. But, older workers are able to produce wax when it's needed.

beeswax and beehive

Factors Necessary for Wax Production

The first step in how bees make wax can only begin when there is an adequate supply of honey in the bees’ colony. Worker bees must consume pollen during the first 5 to 6 days of their life because it contains a high amount of protein needed for the development of fat cells. Pollen is mixed with honey to create “bee bread” that worker bees feed the developing larvae.

Wax Gland Producing Stage

Then at about a week old, the emerging worker bee develops a unique wax-producing gland inside her abdomen. As the secretory activity increases in this wax gland, the cell walls become tall and slender and have large intercellular spaces. The wax glands are most productive in worker bees approximately 12 to 18 days old.

Nectar Gathering and Honey Conversion Stage

The third step in how bees make wax involves older worker bees leaving the hive to forage and collect nectar from flowers. Nectar is essentially just a sugary fluid flowers produce to entice bees to pollinate their species. The bees store the nectar in a special honey stomach different from their food stomach. Once the worker bee fills this sac, she flies back to the hive.

This foraging bee delivers the nectar to another worker bee through a mouth-to-mouth exchange process. During this process, the moisture content of the nectar is reduced from 70% to 20%. This changes the nectar into honey. Sometimes nectar is stored in the honeycomb cells before being passed mouth-to-mouth because the warm temperature inside the hive causes water content in the nectar to evaporate.

bee on top of white flower petal

The Production of Wax

The fourth step in how bees make wax requires young worker bees engaged in secreting wax to engorge themselves with honey. The wax gland, an organ located on the underside of the last four segments of their body, converts the sugar content of honey into tiny flakes or scales. The worker bees discharge these wax flakes through eight tiny slits from their underbelly. Other worker bees collect the discharged wax flakes, chew it until it becomes soft and malleable, and then mold it to construct new combs, repair existing combs, and cap the openings of cells.

Temperature Necessary to Work Wax

The right temperature in the hive is crucial in how bees make wax. It must be maintained at a steady temperature in order to manipulate wax and allow it to be at the right consistency for construction. This temperature is between 93 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit year round. This allows bees to work the wax easily.

If the temperature gets too high, the wax becomes too soft and will not hold its shape. If the temperature reaches 149 degrees Fahrenheit or more, the wax will melt. If the temperature gets too cold, the wax becomes brittle and breaks.

The End Cycle of Wax Production

After producing wax for several days, the worker bees’ wax glands begin to degenerate. By the time the worker bee becomes a field bee and is ready to leave the hive, the wax glands have totally degenerated. At this point, the worker bee is about 21 days of age. However, the emergence of the next generation of bees takes over and continues the function of producing wax.

This multilayered, time-consuming process is how bees make wax. It is estimated that bees must consume approximately 6 to 8 pounds of honey to manufacture just 1 pound of wax. A beehive contains about 10,000 to 60,000 bees. The greater the number of bees, the more effective the hive is at producing honey, and the more wax it can manufacture for the hive to grow and care for the bees.

beehives in honeycomb

How is Beeswax Used?

Beeswax is used by bees, humans, and other creatures in many ways.

How Bees Use Beeswax

Bees use the wax they produce to protect themselves against water loss and in the construction of combs and their overall hive.

How Humans Use Beeswax

For thousands of years, humans have used beeswax for a variety of purposes including body care products, food consumption, household uses, industrial manufacturing and many more.

Benefits to the Skin

In the cosmetic industry, beeswax is used as a non-toxic, natural protectant, hydrating, and thickening ingredient. It thickens creams and make-up, making them more spreadable and easier to use on the skin. Unlike petroleum-based products, beeswax does not suffocate the skin’s pores, allowing them to breathe and preventing clogged pores and acnes.

The following are Some of the Most Powerful Benefits of Beeswax:

  • Humectant: Beeswax attracts water. When beeswax is applied to the skin and lips, it attracts water molecules to that area. This helps to keep skin hydrated.
  • Protective: Beeswax forms a protective barrier against environmental forces by holding in moisture, reducing dryness, and providing temporary itch relief. It allows the skin to breathe while preventing forces such as wind or rain from stripping away the skin’s natural oil.
  • Vitamin A: Beeswax is high in vitamin A which stimulates skin cell production and is a necessary antioxidant for a healthy complexion.
  • Fragrance: Beeswax has a natural and pleasant honey scent, non-irritating to most people.

Beeswax as a Food Product or Ingredient

Beeswax assists with molding and locking in food flavors. It is used to make jelly beans, gummy bears, and similar candies. It can also be eaten in its natural honeycomb state in salads and as a sweet dessert.

Household Uses for Beeswax

Over time, people have come up with hundreds of uses for beeswax in everyday household chores. The following are some household uses:

  • Create candles that do not drip or give off toxic smoke
  • Lubricate old furniture joints, drawer rails, and other sliding surfaces
  • Polish furniture when mixed with linseed oil and mineral spirits
  • Coat the surface or strings of musical instruments
  • In art supplies such as egg painting and glass etching
  • Waterproof leather, saddles, bags, etc.
  • Polish for shoes and floors
a bowl of honey

Industrial Manufacturing Uses

Beeswax is a major commodity produced and sold by many countries. It is versatile and has over 300 industrial uses. Some top producers of beeswax are India, Ethiopia, Argentina, South Korea, Turkey, Kenya, Angola, Mexico, Tanzania, and Spain. Many of the uses of beeswax are in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Some of these industrial uses are:

  • Hair products
  • Body lotions and creams
  • Lip Balms
  • Medicine
  • Soaps
  • Ointments for joint aches and pain
  • Lubricants
  • check-circle
    The manufacture of electronic components
  • The manufacture of CDs
  • Modeling and casting of industrial parts
  • Modeling and casting in art
  • Polishes for shoes, furniture, and floors
  • As a stabilizer in military explosives
holding beehives

Beeswax Used by Other Animals

Honey badgers, bears, raccoons, possums, skunks, elephants, and many other animals eat the entire honeycomb, wax, honey, and all.

Conclusion

The process of how bees make wax is complex, intensive, and time-consuming. But this natural and powerful product has benefited bees, animals, and humans for thousands of years. It is important to ensure the health and wellbeing of bees by planting flowers and plants they feed on, monitoring the kinds of toxic chemicals used in their environments, and educating people about the tremendous impact they have upon the planet. Their work of collecting nectar and pollen ensures the survival of various plant species and feeds generations of humans, animals, and other insects.

Bees are amazing, diligent, and tireless creatures. Thanks to their two great products, honey, and beeswax, billions of Earth's inhabitants can enjoy their products as a food source and financial resource to better their lives.

Best Bee Suit Choices for Apiary Protection Solutions

best bee suit from Vivo

Image from Amazon

If you are a beekeeper or are interested in beekeeping, then you know that it is a potentially dangerous activity. Protection is the most important factor to consider when beekeeping, and a bee suit is the best way to be safe while gathering honey. There are many brands of bee suits available, which can make it difficult to know which is the best bee suit for you.

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In this article, we will compare and review twelve different bee suits that are the best available on the market today. We also will provide a short buying guide that will answer some common questions about bee suits and provide information about what you should look for before purchasing a bee suit. We hope that this article will make your search for the best bee suit a little easier.

Common Questions about Bee Suits

beekeeper transferring a hive

Image from Pixabay

1. What Is a Bee Suit?

2. What Are the Parts of a Bee Suit?

3. What Should I Consider When Buying a Bee Suit?

How We Reviewed

We reviewed the following bee suits based on their features, pros and cons, price, and where they can be bought. We read many positive and negative user reviews and did research on each type of bee suit to come up with this list so that we could be sure we were providing the most accurate information regarding the best bee suits.

beekeeper working on his bees wearing a suit

Image from Pixabay

Overall Price Range

Bee suits typically cost anywhere from $20 to around $240. Some features present in higher-priced suits include more pockets, higher-quality fabrics, zipper rings, included hoods, and more. We included a wide range of prices so that anyone can find the best bee suit for their personal budget.

What We Reviewed

  • Humble Bee 410-S Polycotton Beekeeping Suit with Round Veil
  • Humble Bee 420-M Aerated Beekeeping Suit with Round Veil (Medium)
  • Humble Bee 430 Vented Beekeeping Suit with Round Veil
  • VIVO Professional Large (L) Cotton Full Body Beekeeping Bee Keeping Suit
  • Humble Bee 411-XXXL Polycotton Beekeeping Suit with Fencing Veil (XXX Large)
  • MANN LAKE Economy Beekeeper Suit with Self Supporting Veil, X-Large
  • Bee Smart 800 – Ventilated Three Layers Mesh Beekeeping Suit Size XXXXL
  • Apiarist Beekeeping Suit – (All-in-One) – Fencing Veil
  • Bees & Co U74 Natural Cotton Beekeeper Suit with Fencing Veil
  • Ultra Breeze Large Beekeeping Jacket with Veil, 1-Unit
  • VIVO Professional White Medium, Large Beekeeping, Bee Keeping Suit, Jacket
  • Complete Bee Keeper Suit Helmet Pants Gloves Pest Control bee wasps hornets yellow jackets

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Features

First on the list of best bee suits is the Humble Bee 410-S Beekeeping Suit, which is made of medium-weight polycotton with a blend of 50% cotton and 50% synthetic fabric blend. It provides both protection and all-day comfort. It has a self-supporting, removable, round veil and comes with durable double-stitched pockets and heavy-duty brass zippers.

The tailored fit has elastic wrists and ankles and an elastic waist, as well as foot and thumb holds to keep everything in place. It has a unisex design and comes in many sizes. The suit also comes with a carrying case.

Pros

  • Polycotton fabric
  • Self-supporting, removable round veil
  • Durable, high-quality design
  • Tailored fit with elastic and foot/thumb holds
  • Unisex
  • Comes with a carrying case

Cons

  • Users complain about rips at the seam of the veil

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Features

The Humble Bee 420-M is made of 100% ultra-breathable synthetic fabric for ultimate aeration, and it includes a lightweight foam insert to provide extra protection against bee stings. Like the 410-S, it comes with a self-supporting, removable, round veil, durable poly-cotton lined pockets, and heavy-duty brass zippers.

It has a tailored fit with elastic ankles, wrists, and waist, as well as thumb and footholds. It is unisex and comes in various sizes. It also comes with a carrying case.

Pros

  • Aerated 100% synthetic fabric
  • Foam insert
  • Removable round veil
  • High-quality materials
  • Tailored fit with thumb/footholds
  • Unisex
  • Comes with carrying case

Cons

  • More expensive than other suits
  • No gloves included

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Features

Humble Bee surely provides some of the best bee suits on the market. This time, Humble Bee has the 430 Vented Beekeeping Suit, which is made of a medium-weight fabric blend made of 50% cotton and 50% synthetic blend cloth. It features a self-supporting, removable round veil, durable double-stitched pockets, heavy-duty brass zippers, five ventilation panels, and even cushioned kneepads.

It has a tailored fit with elastic ankles, wrist, and waist, plus foot and thumb holds. It is unisex with many sizes and comes with a deluxe canvas carrying case.

Pros

  • Lightweight fabric blend
  • Removable round veil
  • Durable, high-quality design
  • Cushioned kneepads
  • Tailored fit
  • Unisex
  • Comes with carrying case

Cons

  • Machine-washing is not recommended

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Features

The VIVO Professional Full Body Bee Suit provides another reliable brand for the best bee suits. It is made from a lightweight fabric that provides extra protection, and the ankle and wrist openings are elastic. It includes a self-supporting collapsible veil with heavy-duty zippers and comes in M and L sizes. Both the hood and the jacket must be washed by hand; other parts can be machine-washed.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight fabric
  • Elastic ankle and wrist openings
  • Heavy-duty zippers

Cons

  • Hood and jacket must be hand washed
  • Collapsible veil allows bees to get closer to the face
  • Only comes in two sizes

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Features

The Humble Bee 411-XXL is made out of medium-weight fabric that is 50% cotton and 50% synthetic blend cloth. It comes with a collapsible, removable fencing veil, double-stitched pockets, and heavy-duty brass zippers. It has a tailored fit with elastic wrists, ankles, and waist, and it also includes thumb and footholds. It is unisex, and this XXL size is designed for people between 6’4″ to 6’6″. It comes with a deluxe canvas carrying case.

Pros

  • Polycotton Fabric
  • Double-stitched pockets
  • High-quality construction
  • Tailored fit with thumb/footholds
  • Unisex
  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Removable veil

Cons

  • The collapsible fencing veil allows bees to get closer to the face
  • Machine-washing is not recommended

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Features

The MANN LAKE Economy Beekeeper Suit is made of 60% cotton and 40% polyester, providing a medium-weight fabric. It includes elastic at the ankles and wrists as well as elastic thumbs to help with holding the sleeves down. The heavy-duty zippers at the ankles allow the suit to be taken on and off easily. The self-supporting, collapsible veil has two layers of fabric on the back of the hood, providing extra protection.

Pros

  • Medium-weight fabric
  • Elastic at ankles and wrists
  • Elastic thumb holds
  • Heavy-duty zippers at ankles
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Extra fabric on the back of the hood

Cons

  • The collapsible veil allows bees to get closer to the face

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Features

The Bee Smart 800 suit is one of the best bee suits if you’d like a high-quality item. Unlike other suits, it is made of three layers of mesh, which makes it perfect for hot and warm weather. Instead of a hood, it has a hat built into the round, removable veil, which allows you not to worry about bees getting near the face.

It features thumb straps to hold the sleeves inside gloves, pockets, and a velcro patch where the zippers end to keep bees out. It is unisex with hard-wearing pockets and has heavy-duty brass zippers with a large ring that makes them easy to pull when wearing gloves.

Pros

  • Mesh fabric construction
  • Hat built into veil
  • Thumb straps and velcro patch
  • Unisex
  • Large ring on the zippers

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May not be true to size

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Features

The Apiarist Beekeeping Suit is an all-in-one bee suit that is made with 65% cotton and 35% polyester. It is machine washable and has strong YKK zippers. It comes with elastic ankles and forearms to provide bee-proof seals and includes large pockets. The suit also has a fencing veil and comes in multiple soft colors.

Pros

  • 65% cotton, 35% polyester fabric
  • Strong zippers
  • Elastic ankles and forearms
  • Multiple colors

Cons

  • Fencing veil
  • A little hot to wear

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Features

The Bees & Co U74 Natural Cotton Beekeeper Suit deserves its spot as one of the best bee suits due to the natural cotton fabric and elastic waistband and cuffs. It also has elastic thumb loops to keep the sleeves in place and comes with three pockets- two leg hive tool pockets on the pants portion and one on the shirt portion. It is double-stitched with heavy-duty zippers and also has cotton knee pads and a fencing veil. The suit is unisex for people 5’11” to 6’1″ and comes with a two-year warranty.

Pros

  • Natural cotton fabric
  • Elastic cuffs, waistband, and thumb loops
  • Three pockets
  • Durable design
  • Cotton knee pads
  • Unisex
  • Two-year warranty

Cons

  • Not that breathable
  • No gloves included
  • Fencing veil

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Features

If you’re not seeking a full body suit, then the Ultra Breeze Large Beekeeping Jacket may be the best bee suit for you. It only comes with a jacket that is made of polyester or three polyester and vinyl mesh layers. The zippers are two-way YKK brass zippers, and the fabric provides ventilation to keep you comfortable and cool. The detachable hood and fencing veil have to be hand-washed, but the jacket can be machine washed as long as you don’t use bleach or twist or wring it.

Pros

  • Made of layers of mesh
  • Brass zippers
  • Detachable hood included
  • Machine-washable jacket

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide full-body protection
  • Fencing veil

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Features

Another of the best beekeeping suit jackets is the Vivo Professional Beekeeping Jacket, which is made of a lightweight and protective fabric. It has a large 7″ pocket on the front for extra storage and the spacious hood with black mesh veil can be zipped off partially to be flipped back when not in use. It has elastic wrist openings to create a tight fit and the jacket and hood are hand washable.

Pros

  • Lightweight and protective fabric
  • Large 7″ pocket
  • The spacious hood can be partially zipped off
  • Elastic wrist openings
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide full body protection
  • No thumb holes
  • No gloves included

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Features

Last. but not least on the list, is the Complete Beekeeper Suit, which is made of a comfortable, durable 50% cotton, 50% polyester blend. The suit has elastic leg and wrist openings and comes with a square zipper veil. It also comes with gloves and a ventilated helmet. It can also protect against stings from hornets and yellow jackets. The suit does not ship until you email the correct size to the manufacturer; the sizes are L, XL, or XXL.

Pros

  • Comfortable, durable fabric
  • Elastic wrist and leg openings
  • Comes with gloves
  • Ventilated helmet
  • Also protects against yellow jackets and hornets

Cons

  • Square veil
  • No gloves included
  • Limited sizes available

The Verdict: The Best Bee Suit for Apiary Protection

beekeepercenter-bee-logo-icon

After comparing the top twelve bee suits, we chose the Humble Bee 430 as the best bee suit on the list. It is made of a durable, yet breathable, poly/cotton blend and also has a durable design overall, with double-stitched pockets and heavy-duty brass zippers. The veil is round, ensuring that it will stay away from your face and is self-supporting and removable. It is unisex, comes in many sizes, and has a tailored fit with elastic around the wrist, ankles, and waist and even has thumb and footholds. It even has cushioned kneepads and comes with a deluxe carrying case.

This bee suit meets all the requirements for a truly great bee suit. For all the features and the reasonable price of the Humble Bee 430, we definitely recommend it if you’re looking to start your apiary journey.

How Do Bees Reproduce? A Sneak Peek Into Where and How the Magic Happens

Bees in their beehives

Discussions about human sexuality are sometimes referred to by the euphemism "the birds and the bees." This may sound like a cute and simplistic way of approaching a complex subject. But, the answer to how do bees reproduce is a dramatic story of life and death, of intricate mating patterns, and sophisticated gender determination.

How Do Bees Reproduce?

Bee reproduction is not only a complicated subject, but different species of bees have unique variations of the process. Honeybees follow similar breeding rituals whether they are living in hives of their own creation or in the hives of a beekeeper. The queen, drones, and worker bees all have unique roles to play in the process of conception, gestation, and birth. The life expectancy of each type of bee is determined by its role in the reproduction process and the ongoing life of the hive. Each role is a part of the mystery that answers the question of how do bees reproduce.

The Dramatic Mating Ritual

The Development of the Bees

The Role of the Queen Bee

Somewhere between the age of six and sixteen days, after emerging from the cell, the queen bee will make a mating flight. On this flight, she may encounter thousands of male bees or drones and actually will mate with anywhere from 10 to 20 of them. From this one mating flight episode, the queen will collect as many as 100 million sperms. Although she may live four or five years, this will be the only mating flight she makes. She will spend the rest of her life in the hive laying fertilized and unfertilized eggs.


The sperm is stored in the queen's oviduct. Eventually, the volume will be reduced to about five to six million sperm remaining in the spermatheca, where they will continue to fertilize a smaller number of eggs for as long as four or even five years. The young queen produces as many as 2000 eggs a day and will lay them in a highly organized pattern within the hive, placing a single egg in a cell of the honeycomb. As she ages, her production drops, and her laying pattern becomes more random. Each egg is approximately half the size of a grain of rice.

How the Queen Determines the Sex of Bees

Identifying the Queen

The Queen's Life Expectancy

The Work of the Drones

Drones can play a role in helping maintain the right temperature in the hive, but their primary mission is depositing their sperm in the sting chamber of the queen during the mating flight. If the queen's sting chamber is closed, the drone may ejaculate his sperm to no effect. If he is successful in placing his sperm in the chamber, he will experience a dramatic and sudden end of his life. 


The sperm moves so forcefully through the sting chamber into the oviduct of the queen bee that the intensity of this experience causes the drone's endophallus to rip off. It also rips open his stomach resulting in his immediate death. His role is essential to answer the question of how do bees reproduce

Drones Travel to Congregating Areas

Success Means Instant Death for the Drones

How the Worker Bees Help Reproduction

worker bees on the production

Image by PollyDot from Pixabay

The worker bees are female bees. They can lay eggs but these eggs will only produce drones or male bees. It is their job to provide the royal jelly that nourishes the eggs laid by the queen. Young worker bees serve as nurse bees in the hive, nourishing the larvae, and collecting honey from other worker bees whose primary job is foraging. As they age, their role includes cleaning out the cells after the larvae have developed into bees. They also move into the more physically demanding work of foraging.


Worker bees typically live six to seven weeks in the spring and summer months. Winter worker bees live slightly longer because they tend to have larger bodies and more reserve strength. In cold conditions, the worker bees help to maintain warmth in the hive to protect the queen. These same bees will expel drones from the hive before winter sets in to control the food demands in the hive.

Conclusion

bees production on bee farm

Image via Pexels

How do bees reproduce? The answer is a combination of amazing mating dynamics, unique and specific roles in the bee colony, and built-in intelligence that assures the continued growth and stability of the hive population.

Featured Image by PollyDot from Pixabay

Bring a Taste of Honey to the City With 10 Things You Need to Know About Urban Beekeeping

urban beekeeping: person collecting honey

City dwellers often feel the pull of nature and look for ways to connect with plant and animal life through a variety of hobbies. Indoor plants, patio plants, water gardens, aquariums and fishbowls, terrariums, and herb gardens are just some ways people satisfy the urge to nurture growing things. Urban beekeeping is a fascinating activity that shows a special level of commitment to establishing that connection with nature. 

Beekeeping has interested people for thousands of years. Bees can do much of the activity all by themselves, but by providing the right environment and structures, the beekeeper harnesses the work of the bees in a way that leads to the harvesting of honey. Beekeeping is an engrossing hobby that produces honey, beeswax, and honeycomb; helps promote pollination; and encourages the growth of the bee population.

What Is Urban Beekeeping?

Urban beekeeping, much like the words suggest, is beekeeping in a city or town. But it is more than a location; it is a whole style of beekeeping that may look very different from the rural beekeeping operations that dot the countryside. Urban beekeeping can range from a grouping of hives in a corner of a back yard to a hive or two set on the rooftop of an apartment building. Some people place their hives in communal garden settings.

Can You Beekeep in the City?

Yes, of course, you can beekeep in the city. But an equally important question is may you beekeep in your city? The answer to that question usually is yes, but there may be a variety of hoops to go through to get started beekeeping in your city or town. The first step to taking up urban beekeeping is to find out the rules in your area that will regulate your beekeeping activities. In many locales, the only requirement is to provide notice that you have a beekeeping setup. But knowing upfront what the rules are and following them will help you avoid future problems.

urban beekeeping: insect bees flying

Source: Pexels

10 Tips for Effective Urban Beekeeping

1. Choose a Location

There is a lot to learn to get started as a beekeeper. If you are serious about doing it and don't live in the country, you need to study the options available to you. The first step is to find out if there are any limitations in your town or city. But even if there are restrictions, your dreams of becoming a beekeeper can still come true. The most convenient location will be right where you live, and if it is legal to keep bees there, that should be your first choice. That way, you will be nearby when the bees need attention and you won't miss the interesting dynamic of life in the beehive.

yellow bee on white flower on selective focus photography

Source: Pexels

But maybe you will have to establish your operation in another setting away from where you live. Community gardens are a possibility. Borrowing a small space of land from someone is another. This could be a win-win for you and the landowner, especially once the honey starts flowing and you starting sharing it.

Some flat-roofed commercial buildings, as well as high-rise rooftops, make great places for urban gardens and urban beehives. Some restaurants use their rooftop space to produce their own honey as part of the ambiance of the establishment.

2. Follow the Rules, Get the Permits

You will enjoy peace of mind if you take the time to find out the rules in your area and then follow them. In most places, the rules are not difficult, but there are likely to be some, If you live somewhere that doesn't allow an urban beekeeping operation, you may want to get involved in the process of changing those rules. Education about the value of what beekeepers do and how bees can be managed safely in an urban environment may be what's needed to get permission.

3. Join With Others

Established beekeepers are a wealth of knowledge and information. In some places, there are associations of beekeepers who meet to discuss topics of mutual interest. This kind of organization is an amazing resource for a beginner. People are often generous in sharing their experience. Starting an urban beekeeping venture doesn't need to be a lonely activity. If you don't find an organization, resources such as the county extension agent, the staff of a local farm and ranch store, or the library can be helpful to put you in touch with other beekeepers and beekeeping resources. Your research into getting started in beekeeping will almost surely take you to online resources. These are not a replacement for a human advisor but will be very helpful.

4. Choose a Hive Style

urban beekeeping animal world apiary beehive bees

Source: Pexels

There are two main styles of hive used in today's beekeeping — the Langstroth hive and the top bar hive. The Langstroth is by far the most popular. But here is where your local beekeeping network will be important. You will want to choose the style in use where your resources are. Much of the advice and consultation you will need to get started and to go through all the phases of hive management will be related to the style of hive you are using. Experts recommend starting with two hives. This will give you a point of comparison between the two and a way to identify possible problems more quickly. There is a lot to learn and having two hives will give you twice the experience at the same time.

5. Get the Right Gear

Before you set up your hive or hives and move the bees in, you want to have the safety gear and tools you need to be a good hive manager. A jacket, hood, and gloves are essential, as well as a smoker for use in calming and controlling the bees and the tools you need to move frames within the hive. You can anticipate spending around $100 for things you need in addition to hives and bees. Your friendly advisors will know where to get the best deals and may even have some equipment to lend. You want to avoid accepting any supplies or equipment that might introduce any contamination into your operation.

women standing on the grass while holding a bucket

Source: Pexels

The bees themselves are an important purchase decision. Here you want no bargains. You want to be sure that the bees come from a good source with a track record of healthy bees. Most of the work of the hive is done by the bees, so you want to start out with a crew who will get the job done.

6. Buy Your First Hives

It is possible to build your own hive, and if you are a serious do-it-yourselfer, you may be committed to doing everything on your own. But experienced beekeepers recommend waiting to tackle this kind of carpentry project until you know what you are looking for in a hive. It is also the kind of step that can hold up the whole process of getting started. Once you have a hive or hives and the bees, adding hives can be done on a leisurely basis that gives you plenty of time to tackle the project. Well-meaning advisors may offer you hives they are no longer using. It is a good idea to avoid using hand-me-down hives as your first venture into beekeeping. They may carry some disease or contaminant. Starting with new hives will give you the assurance that you are starting out with a sanitary home for the bees.

7. Control the Environment

The space available to you for urban beekeeping is likely to be somewhat limited compared to that available to your rural beekeeping friends. If you have a yard, creating space for a hive should not be difficult. You will want it to offer some relief from the sun at the hottest time of the year. You can direct the pattern of activity into and out of the hive by positioning shrubs and fencing in such a way that the bees automatically fly over them. This is a way to train the bees to fly in a pattern where they may be less likely to encounter people in the area. In a yard where there are children playing, you will want to place the bees where they are unlikely to be disturbed and where the kids won't be bothered by the bees. Plantings are one way to set boundaries for the hives.

If you are placing your hive on a rooftop, you need to secure the hive so it won't be blown down or even off the roof in strong winds. In some cities, rooftop gardens have become popular. Herbs and produce are sometimes grown either by residents of the building or by a restaurant in the building. Rooftop beehives are sometimes used to produce the honey for a restaurant located many floors below.

Bees need flowers to make pollen. You can provide a floral environment that might keep your bees at home or you can count on your bees' natural ability to find the flowers they need. Bees can travel up to five miles to gather the pollen they need, so a new beekeeper should not worry too much about providing a source for pollen. The bees will find what they need.

8. Anticipate Problems

Once everything is set up in a beekeeping operation, the bees tend to business and, at least for a while, everything seems to go smoothly. There might not be much for the beekeeper to do. But bees and beehives are complex. Many things can go wrong. Predatory insects may invade a hive. Humid weather can create the right conditions for mold formation. Bees can swarm. All of these possibilities require awareness and preparation. You don't want to be taken by surprise by a setback that could have been anticipated.

It is your responsibility not only to take care of the bees but also to handle your bees in a way that presents no danger to your family and neighbors. In a setting where you live in close proximity to other people, you should recognize that people can be very ignorant about bees. You should not assume that your neighbors are as excited about your beekeeping as you are. Bees can and do sting, although not nearly as often as people might think. Letting your neighbors know what you are doing and how you are handling your bees can go a long way toward creating a positive attitude in the neighborhood.

A swarm can be a frightening experience and yet it is a possible event that you need to be ready for. Beekeeping guidebooks are a good help here as well as the advice of experienced beekeepers. Having conversations with them will help you have a plan for how you will handle problems.

9. Enjoy the Harvest

Once your urban beekeeping operation is established, you need to be ready to handle the harvest. Gathering the honey from the hives is an exciting process. Your space in an urban setting may be somewhat limited. You will need to find or create a clean spot, perhaps in a basement or garage, where you can extract the honey away from the bees. You will learn quickly just how sticky honey is and how easily it can get on everything in sight. You might not want the neighborhood gathered to watch your first harvest.

This will be a time of discovery, of seeing all that the bees have produced in the hive you provided. You need to be prepared for the quantity of honey that will be produced by your hive or hives. Depending on the size of the hive box, the yield may be between 25 and 40 pounds or between two and four gallons per hive. You will need containers to handle those volumes.

honey jars harvest bees frame

Source: Pixabay

This is a process where some extra, experienced hands could be most welcome. There are a lot of little things about this phase, about how much honey might still be held in the caps, how to get it all out, what to do with the beeswax, and how to get everything back into the hives once the harvesting is done. Simple steps will help you to filter the honey and get it ready for bottling.

10. Share the Wealth

Once in the jar or bottle, the honey is pure liquid gold. You now have the perfect tool for allaying any anxieties your family or neighbors may have expressed about having bees in the neighborhood.

Conclusion

Is urban beekeeping a good idea? The answer is a resounding yes. Some studies even suggest that bees may be healthier in an urban setting. Bees do not seem to be bothered by urban noise or pollution. A beekeeping operation can be set up in a very small space. It is possible to increase the number of hive boxes by expanding upward on the original footprint. 

This is not a casual hobby that someone tries and abandons. The person who wants to keep bees in the city is likely to be serious about doing it right. Urban beekeeping produces many pluses. It is a fascinating activity to study and observe. Providing habitat for bees can help the population of bees increase. Bee populations have been dwindling. Your hobby can help assure that needed pollination occurs. And, best of all, it produces the delicious, healthy product of honey.