Fellow Beekeepers: I am looking for a technique for cleaning and restoring my leather beekeeping gloves. (I know, REAL beekeepers don't USE gloves...) Anyway, I want to remove the wax, propolis, honey and dirt from my gloves, and to re-oil and recondition them. They are brick hard right now. Any proven techniques to remove the surface and imbedded materials? All help appreciated.
Last year while doing bee removals, mine got so bad I washed them in the sink. Honey and dirt all the way up to the elbows. Not the best thing for leather but what's a mother to do? When I got the rubber type from Golden Bee all that changed, a good scrubbing in the sink won't hurt them in the least.
The answer you are looking for is Mink Oil. They will still be stiff when cold, but the mink oil will protect them from rotting and make them more plyable.
After applying a good heavy dose of oil reciently, I noticed that there was a yellow stain on my hands after my last inspection. I had them on for about five hours and I guess the oil seeped through, but it washed right off my skin.
The rubber isn't perfect either. Propolis is difficult to remove after the honey washes off. The propolis makes the gloves stick to everything and is quite annoying. I am going to try a coating of fgmo on them, I need to find something that bucket of oil is good for.
Try putting the gloves somewhere really hot (solar wax melter?) to get them a little more pliable to work with.
As far as the oil goes, I would prefer sno-seal since the main ingredient is beeswax.
My favorite thing to soften leather is vasoline. It stays pliable, doesn't get hard like any vegatable oil does. It stays longer than neetsfoot oil and stays more supple. It soaks in better than Snoseal or any of those wax based treatments. I just wash the gloves with them on my hands with dishwasher detergent and hot water and then after they are dry and stiff put Vasoline on them and work it in well. I suppose if you don't like your hands greasy you'll have to come up with something better, but I don't really care about that.
Saddle soap also works great keeping the gloves clean and soft. When the gloves look realy bad and hard you might just replace them.
just South of Lansing Michigan
Throw them in a box with some broken frames, maybe some odds and ends, sell the box on ebay for fifty dollars, and buy new.
When it is mostly honey runs on the gloves, I leave them on my porch for a couple of hours for the bees to clean up. I haven't cleaned mine beyond that, but regular cleaning and oiling of my falconry gloves does wonders. They get encrusted with entrails. I just wash them with a spong and water (maybe saddle soap)and use some good leather treatment.
After I washed mine a few times, I foud that the bees could sting through them. I kind of like it. It's a step on the way to working without gloves. It also wakes me up that I'm getting sloppy.