6 Best Beekeeping Gloves For 2022

Beekeeping gloves are an important piece of protective equipment, especially if you’re new to the hobby. Some experienced beekeepers don’t wear them – they prefer to use their unprotected hands because of the extra dexterity it provides.

However, in my opinion, a good pair of gloves are a must-have when starting out, because your hands are a common target for defensive bees. Gloves will provide some protection against stings and enable you to build up confidence working inside your hive.

This article outlines some of the best beekeeping gloves available. I’ve sorted each one into a different category to make it easier to choose the right pair for you.

Please note: some of the products in this article contain affiliate links. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

Summary – Best Gloves For Beekeeping

Best For ProtectionFoxhound Bee Company Heavy Duty Gloves
Best For DexterityHaylard Health 12″ Nitrile Gloves
Best All-RounderNatural Apiary Goatskin Beekeeping Gloves
Best BudgetForest Beekeeping Goatskin Gloves
Best Ventilated (For Hot Weather)Humble Bee 114 Goatskin Beekeeping Gloves
Best ‘Easy To Clean’ PairDadant Rubber Gloves

What To Consider When Buying Beekeeping Gloves

When deciding on the best pair of beekeeping gloves for you, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. These factors include:

Protection

The main purpose of beekeeping gloves is to protect your hands and fingers. These are the parts of your body that will be coming into contact most with bees. Because you’ll be picking up frames using your hands, defensive bees will also view them as the obvious place to attack. As such, your hands and fingers are more susceptible to stings than other areas. Given bees have stingers that are only a few millimeters long, a thick pair of gloves can stop you from getting stung (although no gloves offer 100% protection).

Dexterity

The main drawback of wearing gloves is the loss of dexterity. Beekeeping involves the use of your hands a lot. You want to be able to move your fingers with a significant degree of flexibility, or it will make it hard to grip frames and supers properly. Many gloves will claim to offer great protection and flexibility, but usually you can have one, not the other. It’s up to you to decide which is more important, and how much you sacrifice one in favor of the other.

Fit

Fit is crucial when choosing a pair of beekeeping gloves. The first pair I ever bought were too big, and the tips would often get stuck in-between frames. This means you have to lift the frame up to pry the glove loose – if you simply tug it free, you’ll shake the frames and may harm your bees. Fit also helps with dexterity. Loose gloves make it harder to feel your way around the hive.

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Durability

The durability of different gloves can vary depending on the type you buy. Leather gloves, for instance, can last years. Nitrile gloves will need to be changed regularly. It’s worth factoring in a cost vs. replacement period when purchasing a pair.

Cleanability

Gloves quickly get a build-up of wax, honey and propolis on them. Not only does this mess make it harder to move your fingers, but it also leaves traces of pheromones that may increase the chance of getting stung. You need to clean your gloves regularly, and this can become quite tiresome if they’re not easy to wash.

Comfort

Hive inspections and other beekeeping tasks can take time. You might end up wearing your gloves for multiple hours, so you need to factor in comfort when choosing the best pair for you. Again, there’s a payoff between comfort and other attributes such as protection and dexterity, so you need to decide what’s most important.

Best Material For Beekeeping Gloves

Another factor you need to consider when buying gloves is the material from which they are made. This will play a huge role in determining the factors previously mentioned (comfort, dexterity, durability etc.).

Most beekeeping gloves are made from either leather, goatskin, or nitrile/latex. Here is a quick overview of the benefits of each:

Cow Leather

Cow leather provides maximum protection against stings, as it is very thick. Leather is also natural, so it’s more breathable than synthetic materials like nitrile. Leather gloves are typically very durable and will last for years. The downside is the lack of dexterity, because they are quite thick.

Goatskin

Goatskin is the most common material for beekeeping gloves and is thinner and more flexible than cow leather. You’ll have greater dexterity when wearing goatskin gloves than you will with cow leather, but you’ll also be more likely to have a stinger pierce your skin.

Nitrile/Latex

Nitrile or latex gloves are far thinner than leather and goatskin varieties. This means they offer less protection against stings. Because they aren’t made from a natural material, they’re also less breathable, which can result in sweaty hands. The big upside is the dexterity is far superior, and they are easier to clean. Many beekeepers say bees are less likely to sting nitrile, perhaps because they don’t recognize the material like they do with leather (leather is skin, after all).

Best Beekeeping Gloves (By Category)

I’ve researched a number of different pairs of beekeeping gloves available online, then sorted them into categories to help you find the best pair for you.

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Best For Protection – Foxhound Bee Company Heavy Duty Gloves

Given your hands frequently come into contact with bees, protection is an important factor when choosing gloves. This heavy-duty pair from Foxhound Bee Company use high-quality goatskin over the hands, with long, fabric wrists and elastic cuffs.

There is a double layer of goatskin on the palms and fingers, both areas you’re likely to get stung when opening a hive. There is also a double layer of fabric around the wrists, another susceptible spot. This provides excellent protection against stings, which is great for a beginner. It will enable you to gain confidence inspecting your hive without worrying about protection.

If you are still nervous about getting stung, I recommend wearing a pair of nitrile gloves underneath for an extra layer. This is something I do quite often, and it does an outstanding job at stopping stings from getting through to my hands and fingers.

Best For Dexterity – Haylard Health 12″ Nitrile Gloves

If dexterity is more important than protection to you, nitrile gloves could be the way to go. They will not only enable you to move frames around, but even pick up a queen bee with your fingers.

I recommend getting a pair like these Haylard Health 12″ Nitrile Gloves that are a bit longer than typical nitrile gloves. This will enable you to tuck them into the sleeve of your jacket and stop bees from stinging you on the wrists.

As far as nitrile gloves go, this pair is quite thick and durable. Unless you catch one on a nail and tear a hole in it, you should be able to wash them and get multiple uses. The downside is that they won’t last anywhere near as long as a leather pair, but you can use these for tasks that require extra dexterity and have a pair of leather ones for all other occasions.

Needless to say, they won’t offer anywhere near as much protection as leather gloves, though many beekeepers believe bees don’t sting nitrile as much as they do natural materials.

Best All-Rounder – Natural Apiary Goatskin Beekeeping Gloves

The Natural Apiary Goatskin Beekeeping Gloves find a sweet spot between comfort, quality, price, and protection. If you want a quality pair that offers both excellent dexterity and protection, these are hard to pass up.

One thing I really like is the thicker cuffs which add an extra layer of defense against stings. They aren’t the cheapest gloves on the market, but they should last you a number of years to provide bang for your buck.

Best Budget – Forest Beekeeping Goatskin Gloves

Forest Beekeeping Supply specialize in making good quality equipment at low prices, and their goatskin gloves are exactly that. The material allows for superb dexterity in the fingers while also protecting against stings. They have long fabric sleeves with elastic cuffs to stop bees from getting inside, too.

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To make them even more attractive, Forest Beekeeping advertise a money-back guarantee if you’re not happy. A quality pair of beekeeping gloves for anyone on a budget.

Best Ventilated Pair (For Hot Weather) – Humble Bee 114 Goatskin Beekeeping Gloves

Ventilation in protective equipment has become more and more popular over the years. But before you buy anything ventilated, it’s important to remember that it isn’t going to protect you as well as fully-covered gear. For equipment that covers parts of your body that are prone to stings, such as your hands and fingers, you should be careful about what you buy.

This pair of beekeeping gloves from Humble Bee offers some good ventilation without sacrificing protection against stings. The hands are made from goatskin, and the wrists are reinforced cotton fabric. The vent section sits below the wrist, enabling some air to pass through while still keeping the most susceptible parts covered. They also have long sleeves with elastic cuffs.

Overall, these are a great pair of gloves – but they’re also quite expensive. If you want a more affordable ventilated pair, you can also check out these from Forest Beekeeping Supply. My only complaint with these is the ventilation sits at the wrists, which leaves this area more prone to a sting. In saying that, if you tuck your gloves into your jacket anyway, it might not bother you.

Easiest To Clean – Dadant Rubber Gloves

If you want beekeeping gloves that are easy to clean but also last a long time, the Dadant Rubber Gloves are a fantastic option. Simply leave them on your hands and wash them at the sink. You don’t have to be too gentle or worry about them breaking either, as the thick latex is quite durable.

The material offers a higher level of protection than nitrile gloves while giving you better dexterity than cowhide or goatskin options. Still, they won’t guard you against stings to the same level a cowhide or goatskin pair will. I personally prefer a thicker pair, but if being able to clean your gloves easily is important, these could be for you.

Summing Up!

In my opinion, protective gloves are a must when you first start beekeeping. As you gain confidence, you may prefer to move from a pair with heavy protection to ones that provide superior dexterity. It’s also a clever idea to have multiple pairs for different tasks, so you can choose the best pair for the situation you need. I hope you find the perfect gloves for you on this list!

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