Best Disposable Gloves for Bee Keeping
The most characteristic feature of beekeepers is the protective gear they use for their work. After all, working with bees comes with the inherent risk of getting stung--and because beekeepers work with bees up close, there’s a greater risk of disrupting the bees and making them more prone to stinging.
So before you get busy with the hive, it helps to don a good pair of beekeeping gloves.
Here’s a look at why you should make the switch to disposable beekeeping gloves and how to choose the perfect disposable glove to keep you and the bees happy.
What are Beekeeping Gloves?
Beekeeping gloves are one of the most common items of personal protective equipment for beekeepers. They’re often made of leather, though nitrile gloves are an increasingly popular alternative.
What many beginner beekeepers don’t realize is that sting protection is actually the least of your concerns when buying beekeeping gloves. The reality is that you will get stung. That’s why a thick glove is actually the wrong choice for beekeeping gloves.
What Does Not Make Good Beekeeping Gloves
While many people picture thick welder gauntlets as the ideal gloves for beekeeping, these are actually a great way to get stung. It’s a bit like a brain surgeon--if a brain surgeon operated while wearing mittens, or tried to wield a scalpel with their feet.
Thick leather gloves will protect you from the sensation of being stung, but they also take away most of your tactile sensitivity, manual dexterity, and your grip.
The net result is that you will get stung--mostly because you’re not handling the frames bull-in-a-china-shop style. This angers and distresses the bees, especially when you inevitably crush bees by accident, causing them to release the alarm pheromone to the colony. Ergo, more stings, more agitated bees, and a higher likelihood of getting stung when you move to a different colony simply because the new colony responds to lingering alarm pheromones.
Why Nitrile Gloves are the Best Gloves for Handling Bees
While it may seem counterintuitive, thin but durable gloves are actually the superior choice as beekeeping gloves.
The sole benefit of thick leather gloves is that you can’t feel the bees. But because you can’t feel them, you upset them even more during each weekly inspection. Thin gloves dramatically increase your sensitivity, dexterity, and your grip.
Granted, bees will still get agitated if you accidentally squash some of their siblings. But because you’ll be able to feel the bees, it will be much easier to avoid squashing bees through clumsiness. In other words, thin gloves enable gentler beekeeping, which makes for happier bees and a better experience for everyone.
When you reach for a thin glove, you should always reach for nitrile. Nitrile has remarkable tensile strength of 200 to 3,500 PSI (especially compared to the 18 MPa minimum for latex gloves). This gives you the best protection while still preserving tactile sensitivity in your hands. That way, you’ll be able to feel what you’re doing, but you’ll have the peace of mind you need to conduct your inspection without missing a beat.
Why Choose Disposable Nitrile Gloves?
Given the choice between reusable and disposable nitrile gloves, disposable gloves are actually the superior choice for beekeeping gloves.
While it does produce more trash, it’s also the quickest way to get a fresh start in between inspections. Remember, if you wear the same pair of gloves between colonies, each successive colony will pick up on the pheromones of the last colony, which can create a lot of agitation.
By changing gloves in between colonies, each colony gets a fresh start and a better chance at a positive interaction. It’s better for the bees and the beekeeper.
Plus, a pair of disposable gloves is also much more sanitary when switching between colonies. By changing gloves, you eliminate the risk of cross contamination between hives, which is essential to keeping your bees clean and healthy.
Should You Reach for Thicker Gloves?
While thicker leather gloves are the wrong choice for a positive interaction with your bee colonies, thicker nitrile gloves can give you the right amount of protection without losing tactile sensitivity. If you select the right glove thickness, that is.
Basically, the thicker the glove, the greater the tensile strength, but the tradeoff is tactile sensitivity. A thinner glove offers greater tactile sensitivity but reduced tensile strength. It’s all about the amount of material in the glove.
Finding the right fit is a question of what works for you.
Dentists use nitrile gloves on the low end of the thickness range, from 2 mil to 4 mil. Industrial workers reach for gloves at the high end, from 5 mil to 7 mil. For beekeepers, who need a good balance of tactile sensitivity and tensile strength, your best bet is somewhere between the two.
As for the difference from one mil to the next (2 mil to 3 mil, for instance) it’s largely a question of personal preference, so try a few different options for a few weeks to find your preferred thickness.
How to Choose the Best Nitrile Disposable Gloves for Beekeeping
Overall, the best gloves for beekeeping will give you the sensitivity you need to keep your bees happy while also protecting your hands. That said, the key to fewer stings is to handle your bees gracefully, so don’t be afraid to reach for thinner gloves if they improve your experience with your bees.
Regardless of thickness, you should always reach for disposable nitrile. This is the strongest disposable material on the market, and single-use gloves avoid cross-contamination between colonies.
Shop for the Best Beekeeping Gloves
Looking for the best beekeeping gloves? We supply high-quality nitrile gloves to thousands of happy customers all across the U.S., from individuals to corporations to government agencies. Better still, our gloves are available at competitive prices that work for your budget, no matter what your budget may look like.
Ready for gloves that you and your bees will both enjoy? Check out our store and place your order today!