A bee smoker is a vital tool for successful backyard beekeeping.
One of the biggest parts of beekeeping is tending to your hives. Bees can be temperamental, especially when they feel like they’re being attacked or their hive is being invaded. Using a bee smoker is the best way to keep your bees calm, and keep yourself from getting stung.
Smoke’s Affect on Bees
When bees think they’re being attacked, they release pheromones, alerting the hive that they’re under attack. Smoke masks these pheromones, keeping the hive from attacking you while you go in for inspection.
Smoke also triggers bees to scarf down their honey, because they think where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If there’s a fire, they need to abandon their hive, but consume as much of their honey supply as they can.
Types of Bee Smoker Fuel
There are plenty of options when it comes to bee smoker fuel. It comes down to personal preference as a beekeeper. Many beekeepers use natural fuel sources, found in their backyard. Whatever kind you choose, you want it to burn clean, and only produce smoke–not fire. You also want the fuel to burn slowly and at a low temperature. These are just a few example of common smoker fuels.
Burlap – Burlap is a great store-bought smoker fuel. It burns clean and consistently without the terrible smoky smell.
Wood chips – Some beekeepers use wood chips. Don’t use wood chips from treated wood, including those treated with wood sealer.
Pine needles – If you have them available, pine needles are a free, natural smoker fuel source. They need to be dry in order to produce smoke, and even then they can burn quickly.
How to Use a Bee Smoker
Crumple up a piece of paper or a piece of burlap, light it, and put it into the smoker’s chamber. If you’re worried about burning yourself, you can put the starter fuel in the smoker and use a long lighter. Pump the smoker bellows to get some smoke going. As soon as the starter material is lit, pack in your smoker fuel of choice. Use your hive tool to really pack it in. You want your smoker to be full of tightly packed smoker fuel so it keeps producing cool smoke the whole time you’re checking your apiary. Remember to pump the bellows every once in a while, and you’re set.
Beekeeping is a fun hobby with sweet rewards. Blain’s Farm & Fleet has all the beekeeping supplies you need, from beekeeping tools to hives to protective clothing. Plus, you can chat with bee experts at your local Blain’s Farm & Fleet on Saturday, January 23, 2016. For more tips on beekeeping supplies and tending to your bees, visit our Beekeeping blog.