Every beekeeper has felt the primordial jolt of fear when they realize there’s a stinging insect too close for comfort — perhaps even caught within their clothing. For most humans, this is a hard-wired reaction. Whether the bee got in through a hole in your veil, was caught inside when you donned your jacket, or came in through an unzipped zipper, you’re suddenly forced to deal with this unexpected event. Stay calm and follow these steps to remove the straggler from your personal space.

How do you get a bee out of your veil?

First of all, if a bee gets into your veil or hat, don’t panic or drop the frame you’re holding! Try to keep your movements and actions calm, without sudden jerky motions. There’s still a chance of a quick and painless disengagement, but your success in pain-free bee removal depends on a calm reaction. Take a beat and follow these steps to send the errant bee on her merry way.

Determine if the bee is inside or outside your veil

Take a moment to figure out whether the bee is still flying (or walking) around within the veil, or if it is already tangled in your hair or beard. If the bee is still loose and you can see it, do this quick check: Are you looking at its back, or can you see the underside? If you can only see the underside and the feet, it’s still outside of your veil — all is well, phew!

However, if all you can see is the back of the bee and its wings, well… you’ve got a little problem: it’s inside the garment with you.

bee feet as seen from within veil
If you can see the underside of the bee, it's on the outside.
back of bee as seen from inside veil
If you can see the wings and back, the bee is inside.

How to remove a bee from your veil safely

If you can step away from the hive, you may be able to settle things with no harm done. Once you’re far enough away and can safely unzip the veil, take it off and gently turn it inside out. The bee may fly away all on its own. If not, you can give the veil a small shake, attempt to brush it away with your bee brush, or — as a last resort — gently reach in and see if you can capture the bee in your gloved hand and remove it.

But if these options aren’t possible, or if you’re hesitant to try to capture the bee by hand, then you may need to move on to “Plan Bee,” which is to simply smack or crush it. While this method may bring a feeling of remorse, it may help prevent a sting from a trapped, agitated bee.

How to get a bee out of your hair

If you don’t notice a stowaway bee until it’s already tangled up in your hair or beard — or if you feel a bee crawling up inside your pant leg or sleeve — you may need to put “Plan Bee” into motion right away. It’s nearly impossible to disentangle a bee or to prevent a sting in these circumstances unless you kill the bee. Afterward, use your smoker heavily on the area to disguise the alarm (or sting) scents and go back to work.

How to wear a bee veil properly

While bees may still find a way into your protective clothing and gear even if you’re wearing it correctly, follow these steps for how to properly attach a veil to a helmet, and how to put on the helmet and veil.

How do you zip a hood on a bee suit?

  1. For a veil that attaches by zipper to a bee suit, start by placing the hood, face-down, on top of the bee suit.
  2. Line up the zipper edges to thread them and begin zipping to attach the hood — and, while doing so, ensure any hook and loop attachments are closed where the zippers meet.
  3. Zip the hood to the suit to the halfway mark near the shoulder seams, then arrange the suit and hood so it’s ready to put on.
  4. When you’re putting on the suit, after your arms and legs are in and the zipper is closed up to your neck, pull the hood over your head.
  5. Finish zipping the hood onto the suit, then close up the hook and loop in the front of the suit. Adjust the hood for a comfortable fit.

How do you tie a bee veil?

  1. Gather your veil and helmet. Find the elastic edge of the veil and ensure the front of the veil matches up to the front of the helmet. Slide the veil over the top of the helmet.
  2. Attach the loops on the beekeeping veil to the hooks provided on the helmet and adjust so the edge fits evenly.
  3. Put on the helmet and veil, then cinch the strings to close up the gap at your neck.
  4. Grasp the strings at the back of the helmet and pull them to the front, tucking one beneath each armpit.
  5. Feed the strings through the loop at the front of the veil, then pull the strings down and around your waist to the back and tie the strings behind you.

Tie the strings tight enough that you won’t get hung up in the bee yard, but not so tight that it’s uncomfortable. You may find that you need to wrap the strings around your body one extra time for a secure fit.

Tips for wearing a bee veil

Before heading out into the bee yard, refer to our quick tips to ensure your bee veil is attached and worn correctly and will provide the best protection.

  • If you are a new beekeeper, practice wearing your protective clothing before you enter the bee yard for the first time — otherwise, you will spend too much time adjusting your veil while in the bee yard
  • Ensure your veil isn’t too loose, or bees will find a way to sneak in
  • Likewise, don’t tighten your veil more than is comfortable — if it’s too tight, it will be uncomfortable and won’t provide enough distance between you and the bees
  • Chose a beekeeping veil style that you are comfortable wearing — and decide if you’d prefer a full suit with an attached veil, or a separate veil
  • Secure your bee veil to your jacket or bee suit as instructed by the manufacturer
  • Wear long hair pulled back or up inside your bee veil to prevent entanglement
  • Avoid wearing clothing that has been washed using strongly scented detergent, fabric softener, or dryer sheets, which may draw the bees to you
  • Don’t wear perfume or cologne to the bee yard — it may attract curious bees

Bees can sneak into jackets, pants, and veils, but the key to coming out of the experience unscathed is to act quickly and calmly. For more safety tips for beekeepers, explore our Beginner’s Beekeeping Guide.