Good Old Bee Hat Improved with a Coat of Varnish

By Paul Kelly

I’m a big fan of the old style fiber mesh bee helmet. You can wear one with or without a veil and wear whatever clothes are appropriate for the conditions. You don’t have those options with the modern, hood style bee suits. Most of my beekeeping is done in shorts, a t- shirt and a workshop apron. With a bee hat you look and feel cool all day long! You also gain protection from UV, glare and reflection off your glasses.

Just one problem with these hats – they are made out of paper. Over time they get floppy and if you are out in the rain they turn back into pulp. Plastic bee hats are waterproof and keep their shape but they are also hot, uncomfortable, and don’t last long.

Coating a wood fiber bee hat with varnish makes it last indefinitely and retain its shape. You can even coat an old hat and lock in the character! An added, not so minor, benefit is that the bee hat becomes a light duty hard hat to protect your noggin.

First remove the headband and then saturate all surfaces of the hat with polyurethane varnish. If you want to try this, do it in the winter to provide lots of time for the solvent smell to dissipate. This takes several months in a warm location.

Tip of the bee hat to you!

Originally Published in the Ontario Bee Journal