The smoker is the beekeeper’s best friend, andit is essential to know how to use it effectively. It is the most importantaccessory for minimizing stings, even more important than protective clothing. Directed smoke disrupts the bees’ usual defense response when their nestis invaded and creates an atmosphere of harmony with you and yourbees. If you were wondering how to use the bee smoker properly, you came to theright place.
What is a BeeSmoker?
Humans have been using smoke for millennia to calmbee hives. While the first honey-collectors likely used a smoldering torch toproduce smoke, today bee keepers typically use a hand-held smoker. Firstinvented in 1875, most modern bee smokers have three main components: a chamberfor holding smoldering material, a nozzle for directing the smoke, and abellows for pumping fresh air into the chamber and pushing smoke out of thenozzle.
How to operate asmoker?
Open the top of the smoker and make a smallfire in the cylinder.
Fuel: Pine works as a great smoker fuel.This high sap content makes for a wet smoky fire. Pinecones, pine needles andwood chips make for great fuel. Cotton, dryer lint, or bits of paper can helpget things started.
Once the fire is going, close the lid. When the lid is closed itrestricts the air flow and causes the fire to smolder and smoke heavily. Whenthe bellows are squeezed, air is forced out the nozzle hole which feeds thefire. When the bellows open, it sucks air back into the bellows.
Be careful where you set your smoker whiletending your bees. The outside can get very hot, in fact I still have a scarwhere I burned my arm on the outside of our smoker.
Make sure the fire is completely out, and the metal has cooledbefore storing your smoker.
How to safely smoke bees
Keep in mind, the smoker is not a fog machine.The point of the smoker is not to fog the bees or use the smoker like a can ofbug spray.
When opening the hive give a couple of puffs atthe entrance. This should begin to get the hive into “prepare” mode. You mightsee reinforcement bees returning to the hive with great vigor. With these firstfew puffs the bees will start sending signals that there is a fire danger. Youdon’t want to mask these signals, so give the bees a few minutes to get focused.
It should now be fairly safe to open the lid.Do so slowly and once cracked give a puff under the lid, holding the smokerabout 8-10 inches away. You just want the smoke to drift under. Continueopening the lid and if things are ok you can continue with your work.
If the bees seem agitated, give a lightsmoke puff over each box top as you work through the hive.
Sometimes returning bees will begin knocking into you as awarning. Give a few puffs around yourself to let the bees know that you are thesource of smoke and to steer clear.
Carry out your work and give a puff or two every 5 minutes orso, to let the bees know that the “fire danger” is still present.
Be sure to keep an eye on your fuel source inside the smokerthroughout the inspection. You want the smoker ready if you need it, so checkthat the fire is still going and add fuel as needed. Give the smoker a fewpuffs now and again to deliver air to the fire.