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If the glove fits. Wear it.

What type of protection should I wear if I want to become a beekeeper. Opinions very from beekeeper to beekeeper. We'll be adding useful advice for new beekeepers that are just getting started and would love to hear from current keepers too. Personal protection when working with bees is important and can make the difference between unexpected allergic reactions, sweating out 6 lbs of water weight, and bees ending up in places they shouldn't bee.

Today we are focusing on protecting your hands. Our beekeepers use goatskin gloves, nitrile, bare hands... and yes garden gloves barrowed from our significant others. When selecting beekeeping gloves, the best choice largely depends on your individual needs and preferences. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Leather Gloves: Leather, particularly goatskin or cowhide, is a common material for beekeeping gloves. These gloves are known for their durability and sting resistance. They often feature ventilated sleeves and elastic cuffs for additional protection. The suppleness of goatskin allows for better dexterity, which is crucial for handling bees and hive tools. However, leather gloves can be less sensitive, making it harder to feel the bees, which could lead to accidental squishing. Brands like Natural Apiary and Humble Bee offer quality leather gloves with these features​​​​.

  2. Nitrile Gloves: Nitrile gloves are an alternative to leather and offer several advantages. They provide enhanced dexterity and sensitivity, allowing you to feel the bees and handle tools more easily. Nitrile gloves also keep your hands cleaner and are easier to clean compared to leather gloves. While they may not completely prevent stings, they can stop the stinger from becoming embedded in your skin. However, nitrile gloves are not breathable and can get sweaty, and often have shorter cuffs which could leave your wrists exposed. Brands like Vgo and Gloveworks offer nitrile gloves suitable for beekeeping​​.

  3. Combination Approach: Some beekeepers prefer using thin gloves, such as nitrile, for increased sensitivity and then layering with a more protective glove when necessary (working an aggressive hive for example). This approach can provide both dexterity and protection.

  4. Bare Hands: If you know you are not allergic or have minimal allergic reactions to stings you can always work your bees with your bare hands. You must be VERY comfortable working your bees this way. It can be disconcerting to feel so many little friends crawling on your skin and depending on how you work your hives you will likely get stung working this way. Be safe, be prepared. Keep the Benadryl close and an EPI-pen closer.

When choosing gloves, consider factors like protection level, dexterity, sensitivity, comfort, and how hot your climate is. Also, remember that proper sizing is crucial for both comfort and functionality. Brands usually provide detailed sizing charts to help you find the right fit.

Ultimately, the right glove for you will depend on your beekeeping activities, the aggressiveness of your bees, and personal comfort preferences.

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