My Beekeeping Hat

I’m on a quest. I’m on a quest to find a hat and a veil that I like and that suits my style. I’m not sure why I’m not satisfied with the typical beekeeping hat and veil, but I’m not.


    1. I want a straw hat. I don’t know why, I just do. Accept it.
    2. The hat has to have a wide brim…3-4 inches wide (which will hold the veil away from the face. If the veil rests against the face, a bee can sting the skin right through it).
    3. The hat brim has to be firm enough to carry the weight of the veil. No, the veil isn’t heavy, but it does pull at the brim a little bit. My current favorite hat (and the one I thought I’d love forever) is made of raffia…and the weight of the veil over the course of this season has led my favorite hat to droop. We can’t have that, can we, Reader? It makes me look droopy. And I look droopy enough already.
    4. The hat needs to hold up to a good deal of sweat and a certain amount of beating. I throw it in my car a lot. And then I throw other things on top of it. The raffia rated high in this area (however, this “give” quality may also be the reason for its droopy demise). The typical pith helmet rates high in this category, but I don’t love that one. Yes, it would be easier if I did. Maybe I should try the pith helmet again (I have two of them already, for crying out loud)…it fulfills almost all of my requirements. Shit.

Right now I’m wearing a Tilly hat, but it’s not straw. The Tilly hat is fine, but I don’t look the way I want to look in it, you know?

Oh, and did I tell you? I ordered a wonderful, wide-brimmed straw hat online from Gempler’s, but it was too big (to compound the problem of my search, I have a very tiny head). When I tried to return it, Gempler’s said they would simply refund the money (because it cost too much for them to ship back and forth! I love this wonderful policy), and that I should give the hat to someone who could use it. Is that the greatest thing ever?!

Next thing I know, Deb is wearing my new hat to mow the lawn. And she looks like a million bucks in it. Just the way I wanted to look. So now Deb has a wonderful, new, wide-brimmed straw hat. And, wouldn’t you know it, they don’t make it in a small. Which is one huge obstacle to my hat shopping.

My droopy raffia beekeeping hat

Sometimes I Cuss

I think I’m probably a shitty beekeeper.

I watch videos of others working their bees, and they look so calm and confident. I’m sure a video of me would show me standing there swatting at bees and looking confused.

And inevitably I get a darn bee inside my veil. Trying to figure out which side of the veil the bee is on takes a minute…and some concentration—I go a little cross eyed doing it; but once you realize you’re seeing the top of the bee’s back rather than the bee’s feet when it’s latched onto the netting, you’ve got to take a little action. Or not. In the past, I’ve removed my veil only to get more bees in the hair. Yesterday, I kept the veil on and squished the bee inside the veil. It was at that moment that my self-esteem as a beekeeper sunk.

Many experienced beekeepers work their bees with no gloves, with no veil, and with little protective clothing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be comfortable doing that. I hope it happens. Those people look like they’re having more fun than I am. Fuckers.

That'll Teach Us to Open that Danged Hive without a Mannerly Puff of Smoke

We’ve had company for a few days, and that got us a little bit off our usual schedule around here. But I put our guests on a plane this afternoon, and when Deb got home we went out to check on the bees. Things seemed calm and happy, and I’m convinced that activity at Tomboys and Girls of Summer was simply new bees taking their orientation flights. They were all sunning lazily on their front porch when we arrived late in the day.

We decided that Tomboys and Girls of Summer may need a honey super on top of their two brood boxes…our spring has been so wonderfully full of flowers and generally good weather, and I think our new colonies may want to make some honey for us. They’re certainly full of bees who want some work to do.

So, before we headed off to dinner on our scooters,¬†we decided to put a new super on Tomboys…without using the smoker, without a veil, without gloves, without a hive tool, without a brain. The second we lifted the inner cover from the hive, bees came after us like a house on fire. I got stung immediately on the neck, so I threw the lid on the hive and ran like hell through our back yard with bees after me. Deb wasn’t far behind…slapping her ear and her leg and her head. I got a bee in my t-shirt, so I ripped it off and ran around the yard in my bra. In broad gorgeous daylight. I put my shirt back on and another bee got in there. I ripped it off again and beat the air with it to get the Tomboys to back off. God, I hope the neighbors weren’t watching.

We both got stung…I got one, maybe two. Deb got two stings.

What was I thinking, Reader? Geez. What an idiot. We got a good laugh out of it (as well as a couple of angry red welts), but I’ve learned not to go about these bee things so cavalierly.