REDESIGNING THE
BEE SUIT

For the final project of my Sophomore year in the Industrial Design department at The Rhode Island School of Design, I conducted a thorough redesign of the beekeeping suit.  As an avid beekeeper, I’ve found that many of the beekeeping tools we use today haven’t been redesigned since their invention centuries ago. Hive tools, smokers, honey extractors and beekeeping suits are all opportunities to reassess the needs of modern beekeepers and experiment with new forms and materials.  I researched, tested and sewed a working prototype of a beekeeping suit made from ripstop nylon with detachable arm and leg bands that allows beekeepers to stay protected while beekeeping in the heat of the summer.

  1. One of the small details of the redesign was painting the mesh of the veil white. This not only makes the veil and suit look more cohesive but also makes it easier for the beekeeper to see through.

  2. One of the biggest things I took into consideration during the redesign was the color of the bee suit. Bees see in the ultraviolet spectrum so I played around with changing the color of the suit to red – a color honeybees cannot see. After further research I found that the bees would actually read this color as black and interpret the form of the beekeeper as a threat, so the suit stayed white – a color that has been proven to be calming to bees. If I had more time to develop this project, I’d like to play around with patterns on the fabric of the suit. Perhaps certain patterns could confuse the bees and make it harder for them to sting the beekeeper.

  3. The suit itself is short sleeved but comes with mesh arm and leg bands. Hand made silicone bands hold these mesh sleeves in place.

  4. One of the main complaints I heard about existing bee suits is that they are too hot to wear in the heat of the summer. Many beekeepers choose to work their hives without suits or even gloves. The detachable arm and leg bands allow the beekeeper to suit up to their comfort level.

    Something I came across in my research was a chart that showed how much it hurt to get stung on dfferent parts of your body. Your case, chest, and groin were the regions where it hurt the most to get stun, while your thighs, arms, and other digits hurt less. This chart is the basis of my reasoning for making the suit short sleeved. The areas where it hurts most to get stung are are protected, while the areas where it hurts less have optional coverage. Short sleeves, detachable arm bands, and breathable materials ensure protection while ensuring that the beekeeper is cool and comfortable.