I ordered a new ventilated bee jacket from Beemaid today because the mesh in the hood of my old one, which I’ve had for about 10 years, is cracking and the bees are getting in. The jacket looks filthy anyway and all the elastics in the cuffs and waistband have loosened. The bees can get through my sleeves easily if they want to, though they rarely do.
Here’s an image-link to the jacket:
I paid $155 for it. I looked into getting a different jacket from Amazon and other online stores to save money, but first I’ll mention why I went back to the Beemaid jacket.
As far as I can tell, the Beemaid ventilated jacket is exactly the same jacket as much pricier jackets sold under brand names such as Ultra Breeze and Aero.
For years, many beekeepers in Newfoundland have been ordering most of their beekeeping wooden ware and other gear from a certain beekeeping supplier in Atlantic Canada, and for years I’ve quietly pointed out more affordable alternatives. For instance, the Beemaid jacket I just purchases came in at $155 after taxes and shipping, whereas the exact jacket sells for $160 at the Atlantic Canadian supplier before taxes and shipping. Some of the prices people in Newfoundland pay from the Atlantic Canadian supplier, even for bulk orders of wooden ware, are sometimes 25% higher than suppliers I’ve written about over the years.
But not many Newfoundland beekeepers read this blog and they keep buying the more expensive stuff. Ce la vie!
I’m all for buying local, but not everyone can afford that luxury. I’ve never understood why the more affordable options have never been promoted in Newfoundland.
In any case, I almost bought a jacket from Amazon because of the free shipping. Here’s an image-link to that jacket:
But looking it over closely, even though it looks light and probably more comfortable to wear, it looks like it provides only one mesh-layer of protection, and once the single mesh layer gets torn, the bees are getting in. It also looks cheaply made like it could tear easily.
So I went with the Beemaid ventilated jacket which I know has worked well for me. Even though $155 after taxes and shipping is a bit steep for many people in Newfoundland, it’s still the most affordable quality ventilated jacket I was able to find. I got 10 years out of my first jacket, so $15.50 per year isn’t too bad.
Beekeeping doesn’t have to be the predominantly privileged vocation that it often seems to be (locally marketed $1,000 “starter hives” would turn off almost anyone who doesn’t have money to burn). Beekeeping should be for everyone. That’s why I’m always pointing out more affordable options.
But back to the bee jacket. Most of the time I just wear a basic hat-and-veil combo that sells (hopefully) for about $35 or less. That’s cheaper than a ventilated bee a jacket. But when I want extra protection, the jacket goes on. I still sweat like a pig when I’m wearing it most of the time because it only cools me off when there’s a breeze in the air, but I know that I absolutely cook even more in a regular non-vented bee jacket (which is also cheaper), which would be fine if I only had a couple of hives in my backyard. But I’ve got 10 of them, so… there you go.
One last word about Amazon: Amazon sells a lot of junk beekeeping supplies that isn’t likely to last anyone more than a year or two before it falls to pieces. But it does provide a more affordable option for many new beekeepers, so that once they get into it and are still into it three or fours year later (about 80% of new beekeepers don’t last longer than three years), then they can invest in quality gear.
P.S.: I don’t get any money for mentioning Beemaid or Amazon or anyone else.