My first beesuit was bought from BBwear. It’s still going strong. It lacks a bit of sartorial elegance these days – it’s got holes in some pockets, the hive tool pocket is ripped beyond use, the elasticated leg bottoms are no longer elasticated and the entire thing is mottled with wax and propolis stains.
It’s been through the washing machine countless times and it’s got lots of life in it yet.
Since that first suit I’ve bought many more. All are from BBwear. All are as well made and look to be as hard wearing. Their BB2 jacket is particularly good and the one I use for most apiary visits. I’ve stuck with BBWear as I’ve been pleased with the product and the service. Many have been bought for work – for trips to Varroa-free regions or for apiary visitors – and Belinda at BBWear has always given us a good deal and quick delivery. We now have a good range of colours in the work apiary; apricot, denim, cerise (or cerese as BBwear list it) and the more conventional – less lurid – white or sage.
Good but not perfect
However, all the suits and jackets (at least those I own, which include BB1, BB2 and BB101) have a design flaw. The thumb loop† elastic isn’t great quality and soon s t r e t c h e s. These thumb loops are designed to prevent the cuff of the suit from riding up your arm. If it does it leaves a tempting little gap at your wrist for any bees to take out their irritation on. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a gloves ‘over’ or ‘under’ (the cuff) beekeeper … without using the thumb loops you’ll soon be waving that little half-inch strip of oh-so-stingable wrist at your charges.
And it hurts (me) like hell if they target that little patch of tender skin on the inside of my wrist. Ouch.
Once the stretch is gone the temptation is to wind the elastic repeatedly round the thumb to take up the slack. Unless you’re careful, you’ll do this a bit too tight and then every time you’re at full-stretch the blood supply to your thumb is cut off. On a hot day, the relief of stripping off your perspiration-filled gloves is almost matched by the relief of unwinding the elastic and letting the blood back into your thumb.
You then drive on to the next apiary and the dangling elastic catches on the gearstick and the indicator stalk …
Replaceable elastic loops
In a new BBwear suit/jacket the elastic thumb loops are sewn directly onto the cuff (and it looks to me as though Sherriff suits are the same). Once mine are stretched beyond salvation I cut them off and replace them with a simple short loop of dacron (at least, I think it’s dacron … it’s a near indestructible manmade tape I had some spare bits of). My sewing skills are hopeless, but no-one who wears a beesuit for half the weekends a year cares much about appearances.
With the dacron loop permanently fixed to the suit, it’s then a straightforward matter to tie a loop of ‘knicker’ elastic in place using a simple overhand knot. This stuff is available inexpensively online. Once the elastic (inevitably) stretches just cut it off and replace it with another piece. No more accidental changing gear in the car … no more atrophied thumbs due to restricted blood supply … and no more little strips of pale, tender flesh exposed.
† or should that be thumbloop?