Best Nitrile Gloves For Beekeeping

When it comes to bee stings, there is nothing you can teach or tell a beekeeper. Even the oldest or most experienced beekeepers get stung by their bees, and it is completely normal. However, it is up to the beekeeper to ensure their comfortability and safety in protective beekeeping gear.

Nitrile is known as synthetic rubber. They are resistant to chemicals and some acids. They are also latex-free, making them great for beekeepers with latex allergies. Nitrile is also up to three times stronger and more tear and puncture-resistant than rubber gloves.

What are the best nitrile gloves for beekeeping? Stay tuned as I discuss the pros and cons of using nitrile gloves and what type of nitrile gloves would benefit you as the beekeeper!

Nitrile As A Favourite Tool In A Beekeeper’s Box

More often than not, when you ask a beekeeper what’s their favorite tool besides a hive tool, smoker, and a veil, they will tell you nitrile gloves! There are several reasons and situations where a beekeeper might want to put on some nitrile gloves.

Some beekeepers state that the best type of nitrile glove you can use would be a 14mil chemical-resistant glove. When doing alcohol mite washes, nitrile gloves can help to prevent your skin from getting flaky and dried out from exposure to lots of alcohol.

One of the best things about these nitrile gloves is that they are easy yet fast to clean, and they are disposable. This means that your hands will be clean after working on your beehives, and you don’t need to wash the stickiness or pick the wax and propolis from under your fingernails.

If your gloves aren’t too dirty and they haven’t come into contact with any chemicals, you may decide to use them again. You can simply put them on inside out as they will turn out when you take them off after using them for the first time.

Based on BIP field specialists’ experience, a snug-fitting 6mil nitrile glove might be the best fit, literally! Tight-fitting gloves are crucial so that you won’t have any space left at the end of your fingertips. This will allow you to make confident moves, such as picking up your queens.

 Any type of nitrile glove less than 6mil seems to rip too easily and is not at all durable. If your nitrile gloves rip and you need to put on another pair, it could be difficult if your hands are sweaty. All types of nitrile gloves will make your hands sweat, even if it is not particularly hot out.

Nitrile gloves come in many colors, so make sure you never buy black ones. Your bees may see you as a hive robber or predator and go into defensive mode.

The Advantages Of Using Nitrile Gloves For Beekeeping

Prevents bee stings. (Well, sort of)

The most obvious benefit you will gain from using nitrile gloves is that they can help prevent you from getting stung by your stinger friends or just make the stings less severe. This is based on the assumption that you are already going into your hives gloveless and do not own thick leather gloves.

Nitrile gloves will not prevent stings entirely, but they will help to prevent the stinger from becoming embedded in your skin. Nitrile gloves are thin, and your bees are definitely able to sting through them, but because of the nature of the material, your bees will rarely attempt to sting them.

The stinger may be embedded in your skin if you directly press onto a bee, but why would you do that?

A good theory is that the bees might recognize leather and other gloves and try to sting through them, but nitrile is strange and foreign. They don’t seem to realize that they can sting it.

Nitrile gloves are clean.

By using nitrile gloves, you will not only be keeping your hands a whole lot cleaner, but you will also be keeping your bees cleaner! They expose the bees to much fewer germs and potential diseases.

You have the choice to change your nitrile gloves as often as with every different hive check, creating a sanitary space for you, your equipment, and, of course, your bee children!

Dexterity and sensitivity.

Nitrile gloves allow you to move freely. You will not have issues with your nitrile gloves getting stuck underframes, and it is easier to do your work inside of the hive in general.

 It will also be much easier for you as a beekeeper to handle the bees because of the fact that you can feel everything through your gloves. You will harm much fewer bees, as you will feel them on your fingers and remove them before you accidentally crush them.

You will also benefit from the fact that you will be able to feel temperature accurately through your nitrile gloves, so you will still be able to regulate the temperature of your bee smoker!

A great solution for stickiness.

Nitrile gloves are so much easier to clean than leather beekeeping gloves. You can simply keep a bucket of lukewarm water close to you while doing bee or honey removals and dip your gloved hands in it for a clean when they get too sticky with honey or propolis.

The honey will easily wash off. This is in contrast with leather gloves because when they get wet, they become even bulkier and cling to your skin, making it easy for your bees to sting through them.

The Cons Of Using Nitrile Gloves For Beekeeping

The amounts of trash and waste.

The amount of trash depends on how many hives you manage and how often you inspect your hives. Nitrile gloves will result in different levels of trash. The amount of trash might be a lot for some beekeepers, as some of the bigger scale beekeepers can go through up to three pairs daily.

Some beekeepers have tried to address this trash issue by switching to dishwashing gloves. Dishwashing gloves are thicker, so they should last much longer than disposable nitrile gloves.

The only thing that should be ensured is that the dishwashing gloves should be correctly washed and sterilized after each use to prevent your bees from getting health issues.

Dishwashing gloves also do not have the same dexterity and sensitivity as nitrile gloves do, but it is up to the beekeeper to make a choice!

Nitrile gloves are sweaty.

Unlike leather gloves, nitrile gloves are not at all breathable. All your sweat will have nowhere to go and will end up creating a pool of sweat inside of your gloves.

On a particularly hot summer day, you may end up wearing a balloon of your own swear around your hands. This might end up getting a bit unpleasant, but you get used to it!

Nitrile gloves commonly have shorter cuffs.

Most of the nitrile gloves that can be readily purchased have short cuffs, and it may result in your wrists becoming exposed to potential bee stings.

However, there are some nitrile gloves with long cuffs, and those are the ones you should purchase for beekeeping.

Conclusion

We, as beekeepers, only want what’s best for our bees, but we have to think of ourselves as well. Your choice of gloves all depends on what you want to get out of the gloves and how well you know your beehives and bee colonies.

The three best types of beekeeping gloves are leather, goatskin, and disposable gloves. The best disposable gloves for beekeeping are nitrile gloves, without a doubt.

Nitrile gloves are thin, comfortable, and bees avoid stinging them. Always ensure that you are wearing the correct protective gear when visiting your stinger friends’ homes!

Jaco Stander

My name is Jaco Stander. I’m from Cape Town, South Africa. I’m a registered beekeeper with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development in South Africa. Registration number WC808. I live on a small holding where I keep my 16 beehives. Taking care of bees is a very rewarding feeling, contributing to keep our bee colonies growing and thriving, and as a bonus, enjoying that sweet pure raw honey!

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