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Beat the Heat in a Bee Suit

photo by Colin Francey

Think it's hot in a bee suit? You bet!!

We have a heat warning in effect, but that doesn't stop me from heading to the bee yard.

Wearing a bee suit is like walking around in your own personal sauna. Although it is made of cotton, the material is woven tightly to keep stingers from passing through and therefore does not breath well. Last summer when working in the bee yard in over 33 degree Celsius weather I perspired so heavily that my clothes were completely soaked and my boots were filled with puddles of sweat. There was enough that I could tip my boots up and pour it out at the end of the day. Nasty!

Prolonged sweating causes a loss of fluid and electrolytes (the ionized constituents of living cells) which must be replaced to prevent an imbalance. Some symptoms of heat stroke are nausea, fatigue, headaches and muscle cramps.

When I need to work with bees in the heat I take care to avoid heat stroke by taking frequent breaks to drink my own home made (and healthy) gatorade. I put a tiny pinch of salt in a tall glass, add a 1/4 cup of fruit juice then top up the glass with water. The sodium keeps your electrolytes in balance, the juice acts as a carrier to get the salt to your bloodstream quickly and the water replaces lost fluids. One positive side affect of spending time in my "sauna suit" is that my skin is amazingly soft! At the end of the day there's nothing like stripping off that lovely white boilermaker, sitting in the shade and raising a cold glass to the bees.

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