Can A Bee Sting Through Gloves?

Although most experienced beekeepers usually choose not to wear gloves, gloves could be a valuable accessory for beginner beekeepers. The most beestings a beekeeper will receive would be on their hands, especially when they need to pick up frames smothered in bees! Can a bee sting through gloves?

Bees can sting through leather gloves but usually won’t penetrate your skin. Bees generally become more defensive when a beekeeper wears leather gloves. Although bees will sting goatskin gloves, they will fail to reach your skin. Bees can’t sting through nitrile gloves and will rarely try.

Whether or not a bee sting will penetrate your glove and your skin could depend on the overall fit of your glove. Continue reading as I go through the ideal fit of beekeeping gloves and which material would be best to prevent or make bee stings less severe!

What Makes The Ideal Beekeeping Glove?

When choosing the perfect pair of gloves for your daily beekeeping activities, you must keep several factors in mind. You need to choose a pair of gloves that don’t only fit well but gloves that won’t encourage clumsy movements that may increase your chances of getting stung.

Let’s look at what makes the ideal pair of gloves for beekeeping:

Choose A Pair Of Gloves That Fit You Well

Many new beekeepers often make the mistake of buying gloves that are too big. Beekeeper gloves should always have a snug and tight fit, so it would be best to measure your exact glove size before making any purchases.

If you work with gloves that fit too loosely, you won’t only increase the risk of dropping tools, but you may squash a bee or two. This will ultimately alarm the rest of the hive, and they will become defensive, stinging you in the process.

Choose A Pair Of Gloves That Covers Your Hands And Forearms

If you’re new to the art of beekeeping, it would be best to look for gloves that will completely cover your forearms as well. If your forearms are also covered, and a bee tries to sting you, its stinger will get stuck in the gloves, meaning it won’t be able to reach the surface of your skin.

Choose A Pair Of Gloves Made From Thinner Material

The more experienced a beekeeper becomes, the more they usually lean toward choosing thinner gloves. Thinner gloves will allow you to work more effectively with your bees, which will greatly affect how calm they remain.

The Best Gloves For Working With Your Bees

Of course, you won’t find your usual winter gloves or cooking gloves suitable for beekeeping. This is why considering the available materials for specially designed beekeeping gloves could make all the difference in comfort and effectively working with your bees.

Let’s look at the three best materials for beekeeping gloves and which one would be right for you:

Leather Beekeeping Gloves

The most popular type of material for beekeeping gloves is leather. Leather is a durable and thick material that can resist bee stings. These types of gloves are breathable, making them ideal for wearing and working with on hot days.

However, it may be good to note that many beekeepers report that their bees become more aggressive when they work with leather gloves. Although a bee’s stinger won’t be able to make it through to your actual skin, its stingers will remain lodged into the glove.

Pheromones will be released into the glove, putting even more bees on alert, which could result in your becoming stung.

This is mainly why many beekeepers use smoke to calm their bees and keep them docile to work with.

Another downside to leather gloves could be due to their thickness. Leather beekeeping gloves could be difficult to work with, and you may end up crushing more bees, as you won’t be able to feel them through the leather’s thick surface.

Goatskin Beekeeping Gloves

Goatskin is an excellent alternative to leather, as it’s a thinner material but will still protect you from potential bee stings. Many commercial beekeepers use goatskin gloves, as they not only provide them with good protection but also offer comfort and durability.

Each pair of gloves feature a double layer of goat skin in the high-wear areas. They also have durable fabric over the sleeves with a strong cuff, preventing bees from entering the inside of the gloves.

Goatskin beekeeping gloves have a much more natural feeling, which is something most cow leather gloves cannot offer.

Nitrile Beekeeping Gloves

As you gain more and more experience as a beekeeper, you may feel like you want to move toward working on your hives without gloves. However, before you decide to give up on wearing gloves altogether, you may want to try using nitrile gloves.

Nitrile gloves are extremely thin but very effective. Nitrile is a synthesized rubber that is thin and comfortable enough to allow a beekeeper to carry out the most sensitive tasks in their hives, such as handling the queen.

The most obvious benefit of nitrile gloves would be that they could help prevent stings or help to make them less severe. Although they won’t prevent stings entirely, they could help the stings not to become embedded in your bare skin!

Nitrile gloves are also highly resistant to chemicals compared to leather, plastic, or latex gloves. This would be highly useful when you need to inspect your hives with treatments or when it becomes crucial to wear protection so your hands won’t absorb any harmful chemicals.

Where bees will naturally attempt to sting leather gloves, they are much less likely even to attempt to sting nitrile gloves. The theory behind this is that bees can recognize skin, such as leather, which will make them try to sting through it.

This is not the case with nitrile, as nitrile is a material that is completely unknown to them. They don’t know they can sting it, so they rarely even try. The only time you will get stung by a bee is if you directly place your finger on top of one, which would be a rare occasion.

The only downside to nitrile gloves that would be worth noting is that they are not breathable or absorbent, which means your hands may become sweaty.

You may also need to take extra safety measures to protect your forearms, as most nitrile gloves will stop at your wrists.

Conclusion

Bees can become very aggressive when working with them, which is why choosing the correct fit and material for beekeeping gloves is crucial.

However, when you consider all the information above, you will have no trouble choosing the right gloves for your tasks, and you may even dodge a few painful stings along the way!

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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