Among the beekeeper’s many tools is the bee smoker. This handy device makes hive inspections much easier for both beginner and experienced beekeepers. Smoke is an effective way to calm your honey bees and keep both them and you safe from harm as you approach and work through your hive. As such, it’s important to learn how to put your smoker to good use in your apiary. Learn the ropes with our step-by-step guide to using a bee smoker.
Why Do You Need a Bee Smoker?
To use a tool effectively, you should know why you need it in the first place. Smoke helps to calm honey bees because it interrupts their pheromones. When guard bees see a potential threat approaching the hive, they release a scent that alerts the rest of the colony to the danger. Smoke masks this scent, preventing the colony from becoming agitated in your presence. A bee smoker allows you to control the smoke in a way that calms the honey bees without overwhelming the hive.
Preparing and Lighting the Smoker
When it’s time to take your smoker out to the hives, the first thing you need to do is gather your supplies. You’ll need your smoker, fuel, and something to light the fire. Start the fire by using lighter materials such as cardboard or crumpled newspaper. Use your hive tool to push the flames to the bottom of the smoker’s burning chamber. Next, stack your fuel—pine cones, wood shavings, or twigs work well—on top of the flames. You want to create a slow-burning pile that gives off a lot of smoke without growing too hot and producing an open flame.
Smoking the Hive
Once you’re happy with your flame, close the lid of the smoker and approach your hives. Remember to go easy on the smoke so that you don’t drown the hive. Start with one or two puffs near the entrance and at the top where you open the hive. Set the smoker aside as you work within the hive so that your honey bees don’t accidentally land on it. If you’re working in the hive for a long time, you might need the occasional extra puff. Just be careful that you don’t overdo it. Your honey bees only need to smell the smoke for it to work.
Mann Lake is full of excellent resources for beginner beekeepers. In addition to this step-by-step guide to using a bee smoker, we have the information, supplies, and beekeeping tools you need to run an effective apiary. Take the next step in your beekeeping career by joining our community today.