Beekeeping Hint: “Nurse” gloves

Posted on Jul 7, 2012 | Comments Off on Beekeeping Hint: “Nurse” gloves

Now that it’s hot summer, beekeeping enters a quiet season again. The spring swarm frenzy is over, honey is bottled and sitting like treasure in the pantry. Hive inspections can be on an as-needed basis instead of every week as in the Spring.

Now the bees are just busy keeping the hive cool and looking for nectar in this dry, dry weather. Meanwhile, I’m watching what trees and shrubs are still producing nectar in the hot summer months, because I want to add more of those to my landscape. At the moment, I’m interested in the Chinese Golden Rain tree, which has bloom I’ve read are full of nectar during the hot summer months….still researching all that. I wish I had the site and the soil to plant basswood, seeing the bees on those flowers earlier this year on an ENORMOUS tree in front of the E.R. of the Fayetteville V.A. Hospital was amazing.  If you do have bottomland, plant basswood!

Anyway, speaking of hospitals, one of the tools of my nursing career —the ubiquitous blue non-latex gloves that you can also buy at any big-box store — have turned out to be a wonderful beekeeping tool as well. The heavy leather gloves they sell in the beekeeping catalogs are just crazy to me. I couldn’t pick up firewood in those honkers, much less sticky heavy frames. Not without crushing a bunch of girls, and that’s not ok with them or me.

I’ve worked gloveless, which is a kind of badge of honor among the crunchy beekeeping set, but I’m easily distracted by the aversion of getting stung. Yes I have tender hands despite all the gardening, but I wear garden gloves!  I only got stung once during my gloveless phase…and that was because I accidentally pinned a bee while moving a frame, still those little pokey bee feet constantly trotting over my hands as they investigated skin pulled my attention from the inspection. Not to mention I got the sticky, dark propolis on my hands then left brownish fingerprints all over the handholds of the bee boxes. Not so great.

Enter nurse gloves. The bees don’t seem to count the glove as skin, so are disinterested and stay out of the way a bit more. They probably could sting through a single glove, but none have so far. The gloves are very thin so there’s no cumbersome feel. I put on two layers of gloves just so I can strip off the top pair if they get too covered in propolis, start getting messy or sticky or get alarm phermone on them and begin to attract unpleasant attention from the guard girls.  Yes, they are sweaty if you have to work in the heat, but I change gloves between hives if I’m sweaty, cool off my hands and start with a fresh pair. (Note: you CANNOT get fitted gloves on sweaty hands…this is why I take off a pair vs putting another on in mid-inspection.) It’s not perfect, but better than any other solution I’ve found so far, even if they look kinda weird in pictures. (Thanks to Marianne for the photo from early May, 2012.)

Thanks for stopping by Larrapin Garden, even in the July heat.

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