Removing Propolis from your beekeeping gloves?


Posted by Surreybeekeeper | Posted in Beekeeping, Beekeeping Equipment, Bees, Beesuit | Posted on 08-06-2011

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[google1] I always have a nightmare with propolis (aptly named bee glue which is a substance made by bees from the sap of trees) and it gets everywhere but especially on the gloves. In the interests of preventing a transfer of disease and also to keep everything look clean, it is best to try to get the propolis off the beekeeping gloves.

Read more below for information from BJ Sherriff who supplied mine:

Place gloves in a plastic bag in your freezer until they are nearly frozen.

Remove from the freezer; take out of bag and the Propolis should crack off away from the leather.

Wet gloves and scrub persistent stains with a nail brush and bar soap before Hand washing gloves. This can be done with the gloves on your hands using a hand washing liquid washing agent. Rinse thoroughly and hang to line dry. Do not use bleach or tumble dry.

Throughout the drying process place your hands in the gloves from time to time to restore the shape. A little unscented oil can be rubbed in to the leather to regain suppleness.

Many beekeepers advocate wearing a pair of surgeons latex gloves over the top of the leather gloves so that washing your gloves is not so necessary but hygiene is maintained as the latex gloves can be disposed of after use.

For purpose made WASHABLE leather gloves – follow the above instructions but these can be placed in the washing machine on a delicate cycle and line dried. Again place hand inside periodically to retain the shape. A little unscented oil can be rubbed in to the leather if necessary for extra suppleness

I hope this has helped you out a little bit as it certainly helped me out!

Comments (8)

I think that for all this a pair of marigolds is a safer option. easier to clean and you can dispose of them if you need to

Hey Warwick, thanks for the comment and I have to agree in part. I had a lovely yellow pair for a while!

Was getting stung through them though as my bees are a little feisty. Thats why I changed and has worked well so far (for me) but I do feel I have lost the grip a little bit and it is less tactile.

Weighing up pros and cons is always fun!

I have used marigolds for the last three years and although I do take the occassional sting through them you get it out pretty quickly and I don’t tend to have much, if any, reaction. It isn’t neccessarily a bad thing to take the occassional sting as there is a lot of research into bee venom properties and it preventing arthiritis and possibly even cancer.

I often carry a camera when dealing with my hives to update my blog and I have found that wet-wipes are very good for removing propolis from this.

Hey Dan, Great blog and thanks for commenting on mine, much appreciated.

Being a father of two I can understand the wet-wipes, amazing things!


Interested to hear that you’re not getting stung through leather gloves…..I am only just recovering from another excessive reaction to a bee sting on the back of my hand a week ago. From my finger tips to my elbow it ballooned and was so painful and hot I couldn’t do anything with it, and that was despite massive doses of anti-hystamine. I really have to find a way to limit the bee stings or give up bee keeping! Have ordered gauntlets and will try wearing latex gloves too. Any other suggestions? Suzy

Yep, requeen with a calm queen and wear clean-room gloves, the 30cm ones that come up and seal beyond the wrist…two pairs deal with feisty bees (was out grafting with a SBI the other day and he sees thousands of hives in far from good weather and does just that with the bad ones). Bees don’t like early or late intrusions, thunder, wind or rain, hunger or post-OSR syndrome. Leather gloves attract stings.

NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and the newer beta blockers may make reactions worse.

Thanks for the advice Ecobee. Rubber gauntlets have just arrived in post – they’re thicker than Marigolds and have a cotton lining too. Together with latex gloves on top for added thickness and hygiene I’m raring to go again.

I use leather gloves marigolds and no gloves.

I normally rub lemon juice over my hands or gloves and bad it around my beesuit.

I can’t remember here I read it or just one of my crazy ideas but touch wood I do not get stung.



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