Why do beekeepers wear white suits?
Scrolling through our collection of bee suits at Buzzing Bee or looking at pictures over the internet, you may have noticed a recurring pattern. Most, if not all, bee-suits are white.
Out of more than 10 million colors in the world, why do beekeepers mostly wear white suits?
Indeed, such a specific choice has a whole lot of scientific reasoning behind it.
White avoids fright
Are bees attracted to white
As a part of natural instinct, animals learn defensive mechanisms against predators. For bees, it is often animals looking to steal their honey, thus attacking the hive.
From bears to skunks and even beetles, we can see that all bees’ predators have dark furs or skins. Interestingly, bees are known to detect colors five times faster than human beings.
If an individual dressed up in a black Beekeeper outfit approaches a beehive, he is more likely to get attacked by the bees. It would seem that their hives are under attack on the bees, and in defense, they would retaliate aggressively.
Therefore, to refrain from using dark colors for bee-suits, white is a common choice.
White Reflects Bright Sunlight
In summer, beekeeping is at its peak. Now, imagine having to spend hours in the scorching heat of an apiary while being covered head to toe. The last thing you’d want is to wear a heat-absorbing color!
When sunlight hits a surface (the bee suits in this case), part of the light is either reflected or absorbed by the surface itself. Shades of white are proven as the best light reflectors, absorbing negligible quantities and producing little to no extra heat.
On the contrary, Why do beekeepers wear white suits! a bee suit in black or any other dark color would absorb all of the light coming its way. It would then transform it into heat energy and emit it back to the surroundings and your skin.
Of all parts of the beekeeping suit, it is the veil that plays the most crucial role. This veil should always be made with a breathable layer of mesh fabric, as it extends from the head down to the neck.
What’s peculiar is that the mesh fabric is black regardless of whichever color the suit might be. Didn’t we previously claim that black associated with predators and danger for bees?
Turns out, sometimes compromises are made on the bees’ comfort to ensure the beekeeper’s convenience. Yes, black may trigger aggression. However, a black mesh will minimize the reflection of sunlight to ensure that the beekeeper has a clear line of sight. Thus, it is the ideal choice.
Is White the Only Option?
If you understand now why bee suits are white, it is evident that it doesn’t just have to be this one color. As long as your choice is a light-toned shade, it is good to go.
A Khaki colored protective youth bee suit, for instance, could be a great choice as it would come with the bonus of camouflage in the apiary. Similarly, yellow being a “bright” color, does its job well in reflecting light. Thus, who knows, maybe the best bee suit for you is one that matches with the sun?