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Author Topic: How to use smoke with bees  (Read 6123 times)

Offline Finman

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How to use smoke with bees
« on: June 19, 2004, 12:53:32 am »
Nowadays I use smoke very carefully. I try to minimize it's use. Reason is that smoke gives bad aroma to the honey. Tar of smoke attaches to combs. If you taste the honey of comb covers (wax), you notice that aroma. If you use strong smoke, you will have "strong aroma" honey.

When you take honey away from hive, it is better do with emptying plate. So you need not to use the smoke.

When I start working with bees I do not push smoke first inside the hive. I have calm bees and they do not need that kind of handling.

About 15 years ago I had native "about killer bees". I had allways haircomb with me. If they attack to my hair , I can comb them away and run for my life through the bushes. Varroa mite came to district and it killed to extinction those "rural wild bees".

I had 10 years Krainian bees, but they was eager to swarm. Now I continue with Italians.

Offline Beth Kirkley

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How to use smoke with bees
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2004, 02:47:48 pm »
I've found that I don't have to use near as much smoke since I put the hives on the screened bottom board stand. They seem so much more relaxed and happy. That's proven to me that it helps.
Only time I smoke now is to get them to move so I can get my hive tool in somewhere. And that's very little smoke compared to what I was doing.



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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2004, 05:39:34 pm »
Mine don't take much. I've tried different amounts of smoke and about 3 or 4 good puffs has the same effect of much more. I also use the smoke to move them around, keeps the smushed number down. :shock:

But, this is my first season and I've only worked two hives so far.

Offline SageBrush

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Re: Smoke
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2004, 05:41:50 pm »
Quote from: Anonymous
Mine don't take much. I've tried different amounts of smoke and about 3 or 4 good puffs has the same effect of much more. I also use the smoke to move them around, keeps the smushed number down. :shock:

But, this is my first season and I've only worked two hives so far.

I thought I was logged in.... second try.  :D

Offline beefree

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less smoke
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2004, 11:47:40 pm »
i've stopped smoking the bees when i am just inspecting them.  i may use it when i harvest honey, or i may just break out the suit again (yeah, i've kind of given that up, too, it's just too darn hot, and the bees don't seem to care what i wear anyway).  the bee book said i would only do that (go without the smoker) once, but the bees have actually been calmer without the smoke...fewer fly up at me.  maybe they are just too busy to notice me now...or all the mean old field bees are out of the house since it's warmed up.  it's sure not my ham-handed handling of their frames.
Those who are merciful to the cruel become callous to the meek.

Offline beemaster

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How to use smoke with bees
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2004, 08:56:34 am »
I'll have to post later a link to a post I wrote a few months back: it explains my own proceedure and why I do it that way very well.

First, I use burlap, a very mild material that burns easily, cool and long. I think it vents out of the hive quickly and I smell no residual smoke smell in the wax and very little resin (unlike hemps brother - we won't go there) would resin up a smoker.

I loosely place 2 or 3 one foot square sheets of burlap into the smoker - according to the length of time I plan to be inspecting or harvesting in the hives. For example, when BigRog takes over C3 hive in a week or 2, I'll smoke them fairly good - long enough for him to get several photos taken while holding frames of C1 and C2 hives and while we load up C3 for the big ride home to Viriginia.

But generally, I get the fire out in the the smoker, wait until the smoke flows nicely by itself without pumping the smoker and then I'll shoot four or five good slow pumps into the main entrance of each hive I plan to work.

I'll go back in about 5 minutes later, tilt the outer cover a bit toward the back and repeat the 5 puffs of smoke and leave them alone at least 5 and even 10 minute, this is to give them time to gorge honey which:

*  fills their honey stomach (the Crop) making it almost impossible for them to bend, and if they can't bend, they can't sting (the stinger works like a retractable blade which is kept normally in the retract mode)

* it calms them down instinctually by putting them into the "There's a FIRE" mode which  has them gorging and scrambling around but,

* being stuffed with honey, the scramble a lot slower because they are fat and happy with honey.

* The whole smoking process covers up HUMAN ODORS which make interacting with the bees a pleasure - you can get right in there and they smell the smoke and are all plumped up with honey - you have plenty of time to work them without being overly-watchful of EVERY ERROR you can make during inspection.

So I use my smoker most everytime I go in the hive - if I'm only pulling the cover and pulling a single frame, I'll leave the smoker in the shed - but if I'm in there searching for queens and brood, switching boxes around, harvesting honey, cutting queen cells out, etc - then I'm gonna smoke them.

I don't like gloves, or suits and never use them unless it is an emergency where all heck breaks loose (animals or kids turn over the hives, etc.) then I'll suit up because I don't hve time to slowly work the bees.

But that is always my last point - I don't work the bees until I have time to work the bees. The bees know if you are interacting or hacking and they react VERY differently to both approaches to these methods.

Some hives are EXTREMELY GENTLE by breeding and can be approached without smoking and still you can practically do anything to them - but to have several hives in the beeyard ALL with this mellow attitude is rare, so smoking them all is a simple way to make sure they are ready for you, when you are ready for them.

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How to use smoke with bees
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2004, 06:12:24 pm »
I agree with not smoking bees except to harvest honey. My bees are calm all times except when they smell honey when the hive is being messed with. This is when they get a little upset. :oops: