South West Wales

'Virtually sting-proof' bee suit made after allergy concern

Ian Roberts wearing the "virtually sting proof" suit Image copyright Coleman Communications
Image caption Ian Roberts says the suit is lighter and more breathable than conventional suits

A farmer has developed a "virtually sting-proof" bee suit after a bee-keeping friend suffered a severe allergic reaction after being stung.

The Sentinel Pro 3D Bee Suit, created by Ian Roberts, is made from material thicker than the average bee sting.

The suit is being used by horticulture students at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire.

It will be launched at the Welsh Beekeepers' Association Convention at Llanelwedd on 24 March.

Mr Roberts, who has been keeping bees at Old Castle Farm in Neath for several years, was inspired to develop the suit after a friend suffered anaphylaxis.

Traditional beekeeping suits do not claim to be sting-proof, but when worn with other layers, offer a degree of protection.

He said: "We were talking and said we wished there was a suit to help guard against being stung and I started thinking about it.

"Confidence is one of the biggest problems in beekeeping. Bees can sense when you are nervous and having a suit which is virtually sting-proof is a confidence builder."

Mr Roberts, who previously spent 30 years working in the construction and joinery industry, used a very light, breathable material made by a company in Croatia.

He said a bee's stinger is between 1.5mm and 3mm long, but the composition of the suit is 3.5mm thick, making it unlikely the wearer will be stung.

The fabric is a white or light grey in colour, as dark colours can encourage bees to attack, and there are also plans to make suits for children in a bid to encourage younger people to take up the practice.

Lynda Christie, eco systems trainer at the National Botanic Gardens, said the suit would provide reassurance to students taking part in its Growing the Future Project, who may be worried about being stung.

The suit is also backed by Cywain Bee, which supports Welsh beekeepers and works to increase honey production and marketing in Wales.

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