Until this season I’ve used a variety of beekeeping footwear. Other than for quickie inspections (using a jacket only) I usually wear a full suit and Wellington boots – waterproof, reasonably long in the leg, easy to tuck the beesuit into and, if you choose carefully, a grippy sole for wet grass or mud. Most recently these have been neoprene-lined Aigle boots. Although supremely comfortable they were far too warm to wear for summer inspections … with the beesuit suit tucked inside my feet and ankles would be soaked in sweat for the entire afternoon and they were a nightmare to remove if I needed to go in the house for the (inevitable) things I forgot. They were tight on the calves, which ensured they were completely bee proof, but this undoubtedly contributed to the overheating.
I purchased a pair of Stanley Rigger boots in the Screwfix winter sale, paying about half the list price (£60 at time of writing). They have thick dark brown leather uppers, are quite wide in the leg, comfortable enough to wear all day and have a sole with excellent grip. They are waterproof and – less usefully – have an oil, chemical and heat resistant sole (!). Importantly, when you’re as forgetful as I am, they are pretty easy to slip on and off. They are shorter in the leg than most wellies, but are easily long enough to tuck the beesuit into. When walking in long wet grass – the sort of thigh-high stuff that seems to accumulate more that it’s fair share of rain or dew – your calves will get wet, but some of my apiaries are so overgrown this used to happen in wellies anyway. Although the leg width is generous I’ve had no problems with bees getting inside. The sole is reasonably broad, but driving isn’t a problem.
Note that the photograph on the Screwfix website of the boots ‘in use’ is clearly doctored (unless the wearer has spectacularly fat calves). Importantly – as I’ve recently discovered – these boots also have steel toe caps, so that when you drop a full super onto them from head height you don’t damage anything other than the box.
Those Stanley Rigger boots look good. I used to wear short wellies, but found them too sweaty. Nowadays I just wear plimsolls or walking boots. We’re lucky enough to have gentle bees that aren’t interested in our feet. I suspect I could wear flip-flops with no issues!
My bees aren’t interested in my feet either (they’d be mad if they were). These are for protection from the environment – puddles, nettles, old bits of barbed wire – in the fields … and the odd dropped super!
Follow up note … after a year of using these boots the lining in one has come unstuck from the outer in places. Getting the boots on remains very easy and they’re both comfortable and practical to wear. However, getting the boot with the loose lining off is a real problem, and can’t be achieved without a lot of very undignified hopping about and judicious use of fingers to prise the lining over my heel.
Screwfix have stopped selling the Stanley Rigger boots … the closest equivalent appears to be Hyena Nevis boots at about £40. These are well reviewed on the Screwfix site.
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