Can Honey Bees Sting Through Jeans? The Answer May Suprise You

I’m pretty sure you don’t have to be told that getting stung by a bee is less than fun.

Their kamikaze, “ultimate attack,” that risks it all for “the queen and country,” leaves us with a nasty bump.

But are there certain types of clothing that could prevent bees from stinging us? In particular, can a honeybee sting through jeans?

Yes, Honeybees can sting through the average pair of jeans. The average length of a honey bees’ stinger is 0.064 ± 0.007 inches, while most jeans have a fabric thickness of 0.015 inches. For this reason, most beekeepers do not wear jeans; rather, they use proper bee suits.

Not the news you wanted to hear, that even some of your thickest clothing just won’t cut it when it comes to bees!

But are there any clothing items that you can wear to prevent bee stings? What can be done to avoid getting stung, and why do bees sting anyway?

Honey Bees And Their Singers, A Guide To Not Getting Stung

We are speaking about minute measurements when it comes to bee stinger length and denim thickness; however, the science is there. 

Although there is only a difference of 0.049 inches, a honeybee’s stinger can still go through a pair of jeans and penetrate your skin, delivering a painful cocktail of different toxins (it varies from bee species).

Aside from honeybees having stingers long enough to puncture most clothing, the force a honeybee needs to exert to pierce your skin is not very high, only between 2 and 3mN

 Little force is required to push a stinger into our skin, via the clothing we are wearing, due to the tapered shape of the stinger.

Is Any Clothing Safe From Bee Stings If Jeans Are Not?

According to the “proper cloth” website, denim material falls under the “very heavyweight fabrics” category. 

This “very heavyweight” material is around the maximum thickness that we will be able to purchase from a regular retailer

For this reason, when handling bees, it is important to make sure you have the correct protective bee suits.

If you are not a beekeeper and would like to avoid getting stung, double up on as many layers of clothing as possible, you will stand a better chance of not being stung. 

If you can wear more “baggy” type clothing, it will also help. 

The idea is to create enough space between your skin and the outside world. This will hopefully result in the bee’s stinger getting stuck in your clothes and not in you!

Under Which Circumstances Do Bees Sting?

In the world of bee stings, prevention is better than cure. If you can avoid a situation where a bee may sting you, then it won’t matter what type of clothing you are wearing.

Bees generally use their stingers as a last resort (depending on the bee species. Africanized honeybees are known to be more aggressive). 

If they feel threatened to the extent that they “believe” the hive is at risk, or the threat won’t go away on its own, then they will resort to stinging.

If you are far away from their hive, the likelihood of being stung by a bee is low

Unless you intentionally go out of your way to harass and try to injure the bee, the chances are that a bee will move away of its own accord after checking to see what you are.

However, once a bee stings you, it releases pheromones that tell any other bees in the vicinity that there is a threat and the bee needs help to chase it away/defend the hive against it. 

This results in other bees coming to sting you as well.


Protective Clothing That Should Be Worn When Working With Bees

For the very reason that regular fabrics are not sufficient when it comes to beekeeping, beekeepers have specialized suits, which are designed to keep bees (and their stingers) out.

These suits, although expensive, are effective and will reduce your risk of being stung. These suits come in a range of designs and protection options.

Generally, the suite consists of:

  • A Veil and hat– head, face, and neck protection.
  • The bodysuit– this covers your body and has few openings for bees to squeeze through and sting you.
  • Gloves– beekeeper gloves are generally made of thick material. These gloves are ideal for sticking your hands into a hive and removing the honeycombs/scraping off bees.
  • Boots– Make sure you have good closed shoes.

If you are not a beekeeper, the chances are you don’t have a bee suit.

Other Preventative Measures To Avoid Being Stung By Honeybees

Once you have the correct clothing (baggy clothing, with many layers, or a beekeeping suit), there are a few other tricks to avoid being stung. It, however, does come down to what your relationship is to bees.

Are you a beekeeper? If so, you should undergo some type of training if you have not already done so! This will help in all aspects and accounts.

Some simple techniques that beekeepers use to reduce the number of stings include:

  • Work quickly, but with few sudden and harsh movements (more haste, but less speed. Don’t swat at the bees).
  • Use a smoker to calm the bees. The use of smoke is well known and applied. 

Bees communicate through pheromones, so by using smoke, you “block their sense of smell.”

This means that when the alarm is raised, other bees won’t realize it until it’s too late (after 10 to 20 minutes, their “smell” returns).

  • If you are stung, move away from the hives. Bees release pheromones to alert the rest of the hive that a threat is nearby. If one bee stings you, expect quite a few more to join in!
  • Choose the right time of the day. With beekeeping, as with everything, timing is important. Aim to work with bees during sunny, clear weather days as bees are more relaxed.

If you are NOT a beekeeper, then you really shouldn’t be handling bees! 

Avoiding bee hives and swarms that are on the move is your best option

If you do accidentally happen upon one, get away as fast and as far as possible

Bees can fly at speeds of between 12 and 15 miles per hour. Although not “Usain Bolt’s” speed, they are still pretty quick! 

Bees (Africanized honeybees in particular) will often chase threats for up to a quarter of a mile!

When walking outdoors, try to wear as light-colored clothing as possible. It has been discovered that bees are more likely to sting dark-colored clothing and items.

Be careful when hiking/walking outdoors not to wear bright colors, flower patterns, and strong-smelling perfumes. These all have the potential to attract bees and result in a sting!

Most of all, be alert. When walking, when moving around your yard at home, be aware. 

Bees have a general hubbub around their hives, and by listening, you will realize there is a hive long before you run into it. 

Make sure to also regularly check your property for a swarm/hive that may have moved in.


If you want to start a hobby or career line in beekeeping, please rather spend the extra money and get yourself a proper beekeeping suit.

Jeans and regular clothes are not thick enough to protect you from bees. If you don’t want to keep bees, avoiding them is your safest option.






One response to “Can Honey Bees Sting Through Jeans? The Answer May Suprise You”

  1. […] bees can be aggressive when they feel threatened or their hive is disturbed, and attempting to collect honey without the […]

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