A smoker is an essential tool for any beekeeper. It’s used to calm the bees and make it easier to inspect and work on the hive. But how does it work, and how do you use it properly? In this post, we’ll explain the basics of using a smoker in beekeeping.
What is a smoker and how does it work?
A smoker is a device that produces smoke from burning materials, such as wood chips, straw, or burlap. The smoke masks the alarm pheromones that bees release when they sense danger, making them less aggressive. It also makes it easier to work on the hive without getting stung.
How to light a smoker
Before you use a smoker, you need to light it. To do this, you’ll need a fire-proof container, such as a metal can, and some kindling, such as dry twigs or paper. Place the kindling in the container and light it. Once the kindling is burning well, add your fuel, such as wood chips or straw. Blow gently on the fire to get it started, then close the smoker and give it a few minutes to produce smoke.
How to use a smoker
When you’re ready to work on the hive, approach it slowly and calmly, and use the smoker to produce a steady stream of smoke. Wave the smoke over the entrance of the hive and around the hive body to calm the bees. Be sure to avoid smoking the bees too much, as this can cause them to become disoriented and unable to find their way back to the hive.
When using a smoker, it’s important to follow safety precautions. Make sure the smoker is placed on a stable surface, away from flammable materials, and that the fire is extinguished before leaving. And always wear protective gear, such as a bee suit and gloves, when working with bees. ***Consider a spark guard for the smoker***
In really dry climates, consider an alternative such as a handheld spray gun (the ones you use to spray house plants) and have a mix of 2:1 sugar syrup. This is my preferred method since it stops the comb smelling of smoke, you don’t get a lung full of smoke and you don’t get watery eyes and the next day your bee suit wont smell of smoke.
Fun Fact – Not all colonies respond to smoke in the way that you might expect. So the syrup method can be beneficial.