Blue gloves - why wear?

Quick question about those gloves: Why is it suggested to wear them? I did my first ever hive inspection (just to give you an idea of my level of experience, or lack thereof) last week, wearing 7mil nitrile gloves and got stung right through it, once. Not a big deal, but if the gloves don’t prevent getting stung, what are they for then?



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IMO it would mainly be for sanitary reasons. Same reason you wear gloves in restaurants, to prevent cross contamination and transmission of pathogens. They may also help you get a better grip on the frames to some degree, but that is a minor reason. But yes bees can even sting through thin leather gloves, denim etc etc.

Edit: I personally wash my hands very well before opening the hive, and do not wear gloves. If I am going to get stung through them anyway I would rather feel the frames with my bare hands. I have calm bees so it has worked fine for me so far. I have not been stung during an inspection yet, though it’s bound to happen someday.

One benefit of gloves is that it reduces the amount of propolis you end up with on your hands!

Yeah, that makes sense. Although to prevent cross contamination, we’d have to change gloves when moving from one hive to another.

True again. I noticed the bees liked to settle on my fingers and it seems the propolis there is attracting them. Maybe that happens less on bare skin?


a $20.00 pair of goatskin gloves work great. Only got stung once because bee was stuck in between my fingers and I didn’t see her and when I closed my fingers up she gave me a sting.

The gloves also help to mask the smell of your sweat which may attract other bees to begin stinging

I got stung trying to inspect my girls. Gloves for me until I’m more comfortable :pensive:

Ah, here is a tangible reason! Is this a known fact?

@Fireran: Ouch! Are you sure the wristband of your watch isn’t choking your hand? :wink:

Thanks for the goatskin gloves tip, Tony. My son wore mine during the inspection.

Thanks for all the advice!


I wear gloves purely so I don’t get stung on the hands or fingers. You will get the odd sting through thin leather gloves, however you don’t get much venom compared to a sting right on your skin. One thing a beekeeper gets good at is removing stings quickly before much venom is injected. It is difficult to remove a sting from your hand or finger quickly while your holding a frame of brood. I often see stings in my gloves that didn’t penetrate into my skin. It’s only the very odd sting that gets you through leather gloves.


I can only speak from experience, I wear washing up gloves on aggressive hives as I find the thick leather gloves clumsy to use. When using bear hands i have noticed that I get stung more often then with gloves and once a bee stings, her sisters are quick to sting in the same area, my hands swell up much like what happened to @fireran, by the time I get smoke onto my hand its too late and I am dealing with 2 or 3 stings… painful! They are cheap and easily washed or thrown away.

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I agree with Jeff
Nitriles will prevent much venom getting inoculated. If you get a sting it is a simple matter to just ping it out by lifting the glove away from your skin. If you have a few hives to go through the propolis build up on your fingers is horrendous, then you do stick to everything and drop things.
I wear two pairs. It’s difficult pulling thin gloves onto wet hands so the inner pair stay put while I change the top pair.

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Very good information coming in on this topic - I’m glad I asked. And I noticed myself, how easy it was to remove the stinger with the blue gloves, which I did quickly. There was no reaction for a day, then some reddening and a bit of tenderness on the next day. Got lucky! I might stay with the blue gloves.

@Rodderick: you had a cute typo. I bet “bear hands” aren’t popular amongst bees. :slight_smile: Wish my typos were as cute as that.


Oops…:astonished: thats a bit embarassing… gave me a chuckle!

Looks pretty normal for early in the season :grinning:

I tried gloves - I use bare/bear hands purely because I have arthritis and I need to feel what my hands are doing - At the club I wear Nitriles, I have never asked can I go bare handed.

Years of Chef-ing have made my hands used to rough treatment so a few stings don’t bother me - apparently it is good for arthritis as well, so Hey!


Claritin, Randy. Plus ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Alleve). The first helps with the itching, the second deals with both pain and swelling. :worried:

Some folk have idiosyncratic over reaction to stings if they are on NSAIDS

I almost always have one of my kids wanting to inspect with me so i bought a couple of extra pairs of goatskin gloves on Amazon for $10 each. Really good quality and super soft.

Cyclo-oxygenase is blocked, so the response from the venom goes down the leukotriene pathway instead? Intriguing…

I don’t like the nitrile gloves because of the sweat factor… but they do tend to keep them from trying to sting you. They can sting through a leather glove, but they usually don’t try and they often fail, though they sometimes succeed. The nitrile they can sting through, but they usually don’t try.