Ventilated bee suits and jackets have become increasingly popular over the past decade. It’s no surprise to anyone who has been beekeeping for a long time. That’s because staying cool when inspecting a beehive during summer used to be almost impossible.
A normal suit, while doing a great job at keeping bees out, doesn’t breathe very well. When you combine the heavy fabric with the clothes you wear underneath, you get hot and start to sweat very quickly. Beekeeping involves lifting heavy supers and frames of honey, too, which adds to the problem.
Fortunately, there are now a number of good quality mesh and foam ventilated beekeeping suits on the market which offer respectable protection while also keeping you cool.
Of course, it’s important to point out that mesh and ventilated bee suits aren’t a magic fix. If the weather is boiling hot and there is no breeze, you’re still going to sweat a lot when inspecting your hive. But they can provide a lot more comfort than a normal bee suit, especially if there is a light breeze that passes through the mesh layers to help keep your temperature down.
It’s also important to note that they won’t offer the same level of protection as a quality suit that isn’t ventilated, although no suit will give you complete protection either.
I’ve put together a list of quality ventilated bee suits to help you stay cool in hot weather. All the jackets listed below are suitable for both men and women, and come in a variety of sizes from XS to at least XL.
To make things easier, I’ve sorted the suits into categories – best all-rounder, best budget, best for beginners, best for protection and best for staying cool. You’re sure to find a jacket that suits your needs on the list.
Please note: Some of the products in this article contain affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.
Summary – Best Ventilated Bee Suits
|Best Ventilation||Humble Bee 420 Aero Beekeeping Suit|
|Best Protection||Ultra Breeze Beekeeping Suit|
|Best For Beginners||OZ ARMOUR Ventilated Beekeeping Suit|
|Best On A Budget||Forest Beekeeping Supply Ventilated Bee Suit|
|Best All-Rounder||Dadant Ventilated Suit|
What To Consider When Buying A Ventilated Or Mesh Bee Suit
Obviously the point of a ventilated bee jacket is to stay cool in hot weather, so you want to make sure the suit is actually well-ventilated. The majority of bee suits do this by using multiple layers, typically including mesh lining with thick, breathable foam in-between. By doing this, air is able to pass through the suit, but there is also a thick enough layer of protection to keep bees out.
There are some ventilated bee suits out there that are only partially ventilated. I’d avoid these, especially if you’re going to be working in very hot weather. They’re not significantly cooler than a normal suit, so I’d either go for a fully ventilated option or one with none at all.
The key to a successful ventilated bee suit is to not compromise the protection it provides from getting stung. From what I’ve seen, no ventilated bee suit will keep bees out as well as a quality one that’s fully enclosed. So if your bees are aggressive, I’d avoid a ventilated suit. It’s not worth staying cool if you’re going to get stung a bunch of times.
That being said, there are a number of them that have good protection, so if you have a calm hive, you should be ok. Just make sure the suit has multiple layers and plenty of reviews saying people have found the suit to do a great job of protecting you against stings. Also, be sure to check for extra layers of fabric around the face and neck area, as that’s the most dangerous (and painful) area to get stung.
Like any purchase you make, there’s always going to be a pay-off between quality and price. A bee suit should last you many years, and in my opinion it’s worth spending a little extra to get something durable. Avoid the cheap and nasty options, especially those with poor quality zippers that get stuck.
Ventilated bee suits tend to be quite expensive, with the cheaper options starting at around $100. How much you spend obviously depends on your budget. If you’ve got plenty of money available, then I’d buy the best you can get. But if you don’t have a lot to spend, consider something that’s reasonably priced but also has plenty of 5-star reviews.
Top 5 ventilated beekeeping suits (By category)
I could make a long list of ventilated bee suits, and you could put a blindfold on, point at one and buy it. However, it’s more helpful to sort the choices into separate categories – so that’s what I’ve done. Hopefully it makes it easier to choose the right one for you.
Best For Staying Cool – Humble Bee 420 Aero Beekeeping Suit
While I haven’t bought the Humble Bee 420 Aero Beekeeping Suit, I do own a Humble Bee Aero Jacket (which is basically the same thing but in jacket form) and I like it very much. The design is very comfortable and I’ve found it helps me stay cool during the hot Australian summers.
When I first put it on, I was a bit doubtful it would offer enough protection… but so far it’s done a fantastic job of keeping bees out. I always wear a layer of clothing underneath, just in case, but the Humble Bee has a lightweight foam insert that’s thick enough to keep most stings from reaching you (I say most because no bee suit will keep out 100% of stings).
Humble bee makes quality products, and they say this suit comes with a 2-year warranty and a free veil replacement in case of damage. All in all, it’s a great option if you want something that will help you stay cool in hot weather, without compromising too much on protection.
Best For Protection – The Ultra Breeze Ventilated Suit
The Ultra Breeze Beekeeping Suit has built up a devout following among hobbyists and professional beekeepers. Being one of the few bee suits available that’s actually made in America, a lot of people rave about the quality and durability of the suit.
If you want a suit that keeps you relatively cool without sacrificing protection from stings, the Ultra Breeze is about as good as it gets. The workmanship is first class, and the suit has quality brass zippers along with durable ventilated fabric layers of polyester or polyester/vinyl blend. This makes it effective at keeping bees out while also allowing for ventilation.
The cuffs on the jacket have elastic as well as Velcro for that extra security around your hands, which is a welcome feature. My only dislike is it has a fencing veil, which in my experience can restrict your vision a little bit. However, it should do a good job of protecting your face which is the important part.
Overall, the Ultra Breeze is a popular choice for a reason, and most beekeepers agree it’s worth the price if you’ve got the money.
Best Budget Option – Forest Beekeeping Supply Ventilated Bee Suit
Forest beekeeping does an excellent job of making quality beekeeping supplies at a reasonable price. That’s why I’ve put the Forest Beekeeping Supply Ventilated Bee Suit as the best option if you’re on a budget. It’ll still set you back almost $150, but that’s about 25% cheaper than the majority of full-length ventilated bee suits out there.
What I like about this bee suit is that it has an extra layer of fabric around the wrists and ankles – both areas that are particularly susceptible to attacks from bees. If you want a great mesh bee suit without breaking the bank, this is an excellent choice.
Best for beginners – OZ ARMOUR Ventilated Beekeeping Suit
There are two types of beekeepers – those who like a fencing veil, and those who prefer a round one. I’m in the second camp, but it took me a little while to figure that out. That’s why I like the OZ ARMOUR Ventilated Beekeeping Suit, because it comes with two hoods – a fencing veil and a round one. This gives you the chance to try each one.
It’s also handy because the veil is often the first thing to wear out on a bee suit, so if that happens you will have a spare one ready. The legs of the suit have pockets for knee pads which can be helpful when you’re doing some work on your hive that involves kneeling a lot.
It’s worth noting that this suit comes in a range of different sizes all the way up to 8XL. I’ve always found it difficult to judge which size will fit me best when buying bee suits and jackets – so it’s nice to see that OZ ARMOUR say to message them first if you’re not sure, and they can suggest the right one based on your measurements.
Best all-rounder – Dadant Ventilated Suit
Dadant is one of the most popular beekeeping equipment suppliers in the U.S.A. and has been around for a long time. They are renowned for making excellent quality gear.
For that reason, the Dadant Ventilated Suit is a good all-rounder if you’re not sure what option to go with. It has synthetic foam to provide protection against stings, sandwiched between thin layers of mesh to ensure you stay cool during warm weather.
Some people might be put off by the extra fabric at the base of the veil as it can restrict vision, but I think the extra protection around the neck is a good thing. I also like the Velcro patch around the neck that covers the zipper, reinforcing a potential weak spot against adventurous bees. Overall, a solid choice.
Ultimately, the best ventilated bee suit depends on your personal circumstances and budget. If you live somewhere that gets hot in summer and have bees that aren’t aggressive, buying one is a great choice.
If you’re not sold on a full-length suit and think a jacket might be a better option, you can check out my article discussing the pros and cons of each by clicking here.