Be Calm There’s a Bee in Your Bra

We checked on the beehive yesterday and added the second brood box. Although we didn’t see the queen, we definitely saw evidence of her. The little white larvae were in their cells, and plenty of brood cells were capped. I saw no evidence of small hive beetles (woo!), and the hive generally looked pretty good. The worker bees were more than a little perturbed to have their hive dismantled for inspection and buzzed angrily around us.

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Inspecting a frame from the hive

As I removed another frame to inspect, I had that bothersome sensation that I had a bee crawling in the collar of my shirt. I ignored it. You have to be calm, smooth, and methodical when you’re inspecting your beehive. Jerky movements and flailing around because there may or may not be a bee under your veil is a sure-fire method to attract more unwanted attention and get stung by the bee in your veil. Besides, the bees were already pretty upset with us. (I watched one bee die as it stung my leather gloves, and I felt a twinge of pity for her.) Instead, we continued inspecting the frames. I saw little evidence of pollen, which is vital to raise the brood, so that was definitely a boo.

And then I felt something crawl down my shirt into my bra and start meandering around. Nope. We had just finished inspecting the final frame, so I said rather coolly to my husband, “do you mind putting the hive back together? I definitely have a bee in my bra, and I need to go take care of it.” He said sure, and I walked calmly away from the beehive and its hubbub of bustling activity to the patio.

I removed my gloves. I removed my veil and my helmet. I then carefully unbuttoned my long-sleeve button up shirt (that had been buttoned all the way up with the collar popped like a prep from the early 2000s!). I removed my shirt while standing on my backyard patio.

I then pulled back the edge of my sports bra and silently encouraged the bee to peaceably make its way out. No one wants to be stung by a bee. No woman wants to be stung by a bee in her bra. The bee escaped without any major event (aside from my very earnest wordless encouragement).

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The Adventurous Bee

This is the second time that I’ve had an adventurous bee decide to foray into my bra, which makes me wonder if this is a problem unique to female beekeepers. The traditional beekeeper’s helmet/veil never seems to have fit me well because it is difficult to drape and secure without gaps due to, well, me being a woman. Unisex clothing is almost always designed to fit men, not women. My husband has never had a bee penetrate the layers of his veil, and I’ve had three! Boo! Potentially, this disparity could be because I do the actual inspections of the hive while he operates the smoker and does the heavy lifting for me, but I doubt it because he’s still right beside me.

So, I’m curious if any other female beekeepers have had this problem or could share any words of wisdom or better fitting beekeeping clothing. I’m not exactly comfortable sallying up to a female beekeeper at a local event and asking her how she keeps bees out of her bra while she inspects her hives. Instead, I am more likely to resort to purchasing a full body bee suit (or jacket) with a zipper attached hood. This getup would likely also fit poorly as they’re still unisex, but it would at least prevent bees from crawling into my shirt.

This solution seems more likely because, as I said, no woman wants to get stung by a bee in her bra.

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