Any seasoned beekeeper will tell you that it is very important to have the proper protective clothing when working with bees. And that includes a pair of gloves. Since your hands will be directly in the beehive, you should wear gloves in order to prevent bee stings on your hands.
Types of Beekeeping Gloves
There are a few different types of gloves for beekeepers to choose from. These gloves are made from different materials such as leather, goatskin, and nitrile. Leather and goatskin gloves are reusable, while nitrile gloves are disposable.
Leather is the most commonly used material for beekeeping gloves. It is a thick, natural material that does well at protecting against bee stings. While it is a durable material, some beekeepers find that leather is too thick and can sometimes be difficult to work in.
Like leather, goatskin is a natural material. Goatskin is thinner than leather, but still offers protective qualities.
Disposable gloves are the thinnest of the 3 types of beekeeping gloves. It is made of thin rubber. Because the gloves are so thin, the beekeeper still has a lot of feeling in their hands. Therefore, disposable gloves are ideal for handling sensitive tasks.
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Why use Disposable Gloves?
Protect Your Skin From Chemicals
Most beekeepers will use some sort of chemicals when beekeeping. Oxalic acid and other mite treatments should not come in contact with your skin, so it is necessary to wear gloves when handling these products.
Disposable gloves are perfect for administering these treatments because you can easily take the gloves off and dispose of them when you’re done.
No Cross Contamination
If you have multiple hives, disposable gloves are the best to prevent cross contamination. Using a fresh pair of gloves for each hive will prevent the hives from being exposed to contaminants in other hives.
Because disposable gloves are much thinner than leather and goatskin gloves, your hands will be able to have much more movement. Disposable gloves allow you to feel everything you touch, which makes working in them a lot easier.
You can even feel bees through nitrile gloves, something that you cannot do with leather and goatskin gloves. Being able to feel the bees means less chances of accidentally smashing them.
Easy Clean Up
Because disposable gloves are made of rubber, they can be wet for quick clean ups. If you try to wet leather gloves they will become very bulky and hard to work in. And of course, when you are done with the nitrile gloves you can simply throw them away.
The Best Disposable Gloves for Beekeeping
Disposable nitrile gloves are a favorite for seasoned beekeepers. They are very thin, so it’s the next best thing to working with bare hands. They are comfortable and allow for a lot of movement, and clean up is fast and easy.
Of course, you should choose your gloves based on the temperament of your bee colony. If you have a particularly aggressive hive, you may be better off with leather gloves. But you should have no problem using nitrile gloves for calm hives.
What are Nitrile Gloves?
Nitrile is a synthetic rubber. Nitrile is resistant to chemicals such as oil, fuel, and some acids. This same type of rubber is also used to manufacture shoes, adhesives, and floor mats.
Nitrile gloves are latex free, so they are great for people with latex allergies. Another reason to use nitrile gloves is that nitrile is 3 times stronger than later and more puncture resistant than rubber gloves.
The drawback of nitrile gloves is that although they are stronger than latex gloves, they aren’t quite as flexible. However, I found that I have a good amount of dexterity when working in nitrile gloves.
Can Bees Sting Through Nitrile Gloves?
Technically, bees can sting through nitrile gloves. However, bees tend not to sting them. It’s as if the bees do not recognize the material or realize that they can sting nitrile gloves.
Whereas with leather gloves, bees will readily sting them, but the thick leather prevents the stinger from reaching your hands. So, while bees actually can sting through nitrile gloves, they rarely will.
Where to Get Nitrile Gloves
Nitrile gloves can be bought in stores such as Walmart, CVS, or Target. I personally like to buy my nitrile gloves online at Amazon because the prices tend to be better and there is a larger selection to choose from.
The 3 types of beekeeping gloves are leather, goatskin, and disposable. The best disposable gloves for beekeeping are nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves are thin, comfortable, and bees avoid stinging them.