I'll be Beekeeping for the very first time this Spring with my father and I'm being told different advice concerning different things.
I'm sure you know how that goes when you are just starting out:eek:
Some people tell me that I should not wear gloves while some say that I should. Which is confusing me since most Beekeepers I see are indeed wearing them.:s
Does anyone have any advice on whether I should wear gloves or not?
I ordered a Bee Suit and gloves come with it yet some people are telling me to just keep them in my pocket and not actually wear them unless needed.
I'm unsure of what I should do:o
Thank you so very much for any help:)
I just started last year and went through the same puzzlement. It is definintey easier to work bare handed but the obvious down-side is sting potential. With greater dexterity (bare handed) you will probably do your inspections and manipulations more gracefully and give the bees less reason to want to sting. On the other hand (pun intended) as a new beekeeper you will probably work with greater confidence if you feel protected.
I usually keep gloves handy in case I get stung--one sting is frequently followed by more because of the alarm pheremone. And I may put on the gloves if the bees seem testy and I am nervous about getting stung. During a nectar flow most bees are very focused on their work and they are very gentle/preoccupied so you can do anything short of smashing them and not get stung. If there is a dearth of nectar, if you are forced to go into the hive on a day they are not flying, or if there is a problem with the queen, you will want the gloves and you will probably know it. If I am scraping burr comb that has nectar in it that tends to get the bees excited so I will wear gloves...
Most of my stings have come when I was re-assembling the hive bodies and I roll, pinch, or smash a bee in spite of using great care. Knowing this, I may work bare handed up to the point that I am replacing hive bodies on the stack and then put on the gloves.
I find the traditional beekeeping gloves to be way to bulky and essentially worthless so I have experimented with all kinds of work gloves. I really like the knit ones with the palm dipped in rubber but the bees can and do sting through the knitting on the back of the hand. I also find that nitrile rubber gloves work well. They are thin enough so that you can feel everything but protective enough to hold back most stings.
You will get stung. You should get stung. It will probably be due to a mistake you make. You will probably have a local reaction (red, swolen, itchy). You will get used to it. The reactions should become less severe once you have been stung a few times. You will get to know your hive(s) and be able to adjust accordingly.
Do what makes you comfortable and do not feel that you have to be limited to "beekeeping gloves" if you choose to wear them at all.
Okay. Thanks so much for your reply. That was very helpful! I really appreciate it.
I'm so very excited to begin yet a bit nervous being my first time.
We'll be getting the bees the first week of May, I can't wait!
I've always wanted to do this!
What's important is that you wear enough "protection" to feel comfortable when working with the bees. Took me a couple years before I ditched the gloves, although I still keep them handy in case the girls are grouchy. One of my buddies has been keeping bees over 20 years and wears playtex gloves simply because he doesn't like getting propolis on his hands.
Do what feels right for you.
I also just started this year, I have gone back and forth on wearing gloves. I decided until I get used to being around the bees it is better to wear them, especially as I dont want to make any sudden movements.
Check out the "bucko" gloves www.buckogloves.com
They are goats skin, not too thick and really easy to work with. There prices are very reasonable. There is a thread on here somewhere, just do a search.
I started out using the typical beekeeping gloves. I really did not like them but could not really go without either. I tend to react when a bee starts crawling on me and that probably induces the sting.
I have switched to nitrile disposable gloves. They are fairly tight and therefore, I can feel and work the hive alot easier. I got a box of 100 at harbor frieght for about $10. I have only been stung once with them on and that was when I squashed a bee under my thumb on accident.
The only drawback is that your hands do sweat alot in them. I rarely notice this though until I take them off and my hands are all wet. No big deal for me.
I am at least partiallly convinced that the bees know if you are comfortable with them. Since I started using these gloves and got a Ultrabreeze jacket, I am much more comfortable and confident and now the bees don't seem to bother me as much anyway.
I wear gloves most of the time. I always figured that if I got stung while holding a frame I really didn't know who I would react. If I dropped the frame back into the super, well that could make a lot of very angry bees.
So I wear gloves for both my protection and the bees. :-P
Pretty much it boils down to what ever you feel more comfortable with.
Gloves or not?
I find wearing domestic rubber kitchen gloves does the trick. Combines protection with dexterity.
When I wear gloves, I prefer the rubber gloves you get in the paint department at Walmart (all the ones I have seen have been blue). They have a thin layer of knit inside them that the bees seem to very rarely be able to sting through. They are a little more comfortable to wear than the plain rubber ones too and the dexterity is still very good.
Originally Posted by Shortjoker
I started with leather gloves and still use them whenever I really open a hive (e.g. not for top feeding). I get stung in other places, so its not about trying to never get stung, but I am just used to them. They do keep my hands clean, but they can be clumsy at times. This year I bought some nitrile gloves, but have not used them, yet, as I am still waiting for my UltraBreeze suit and need the elastic cuffs to cover the nitrile gloves. Eventually, I might try going without, but I have to reprogram myself, first.
I started last year and quickly went to no gloves. After being stung 8-9 times, I started having more localized swelling and went to wearing 2 pairs of blue nitrile gloves I bought at Home Depot. They are very resistant to puncture and tearing and seem to allow me the dexterity I desire with the protection needed so my hands don't blow up if I get stung. I save my leather gloves that came with my kit for people who visit.
There are pros and cons to both. At times, I wear gloves, and at times I go barehanded.
It is good to go barehanded, because you can feel what you are doing. You are less likely to crush bees or be too rough with them. The bees will quickly teach you if you aren't careful enough.
Leather gloves give much better sting protection, but you will tend to be clumsy. You are more likely to go faster and be less gentle with gloves. (It may be a psychological factor, knowing the gloves protect your hands, so you aren't as careful to not get stung.)
The rubber or nitrile gloves allow you to feel what you are doing better, but bees can still sting through them.
About the only time I wear gloves is if I am pulling honey. The bees can often be a little more testy then. Also, I run all deep supers, and a 90 pound super of honey and gentle finesse don't always go together. I know there is a good chance I will be rougher than the bees like, so I wear gloves.
Kitchen type gloves work great - they protect your hands, increase your confidence, and don't interfere with dexterity for the most part.
Grow into working bees gloveless.
I've used kitchen gloves, "Handyman" gloves, official leather beekeeper gloves... never been stung through any of 'em.
But barehanded... yeah, they've nailed me a few times, and I swell up like a baseball mitt, so it's just not worth it to me. I always wear some kind of glove now, whichever is handy.
One lesson learned: be sure your cuff covers your glove. They'll find your exposed wrist if they're determined enough (he said, typing with one hand the size of a Rawlings Ken Griffey)