For every beekeeper, a bee smoker
is part of the essentials needed. The use of a beehive smoker
dates back to ancient times.
A bee smoker
is a tool for calming bees such that a beekeeper can work on the hive. When smoke is released from the smoker, it distracts the bees, and in that way, they won't sting or attack the keeper.
How a bee smoker works
In ancient times, a beekeeping smoker
was usually an iron container with openings. It's filled with materials that can burn and create smoke, then, a beekeeper swings it, such that smoke can scatter around the hive.
Fast forward to recent years; a lot has improved. Beekeeping smokers
are now with simple and easy to use design. Although the need to get materials that will serve as fuel remains, recent smokers' improvements now have a pointed nozzle to emit smokes and a button or lever to puff the smokes.
So, a typical smoker has:
- A nozzle to emit smoke
- A lever a beekeeper presses to allow oxygen come in to flush out smoke in ample quantity
- Space within to put fuel
Fuel for a beehive smoker is pine needles, wood residues, paper cartons, etc.
How a smoker affects bees
A honey bee smoker,
when puffed, emits smoke that calms bees. When bees are in danger or high alert, they communicate with each other using pheromones. By that, the attention of other bees is called to attack. But with the use of a smoker, the smoke shrouds the pheromones, and the message is not delivered. The bees are then just disorganized without being able to prepare a coordinated defensive action.
Another way that smoking bees out
works is that it makes the bees feel the bush is burning, and their habitat will soon be affected. So, they rush down the hive to consume as much honey in preparation for relocation.
Overall, when smoke is used on bees, they are less active and less motivated to attack.
How to safely smoke bees out
Smoke can sometimes be hot, so don't bring the nozzle too close to bees. The nozzle should be at least 5-7 inches away from the bees. Also, two puffs of smoke are ideal to avoid over-smoking.
Safety tips for beekeepers
A beehive smoker
requires caution to avoid burns. Most beekeeping smokers
are made of iron and get hot at times. Be careful to always hold onto the handle to avoid burns. Wearing gloves is also quite essential.
Above all, fire extinguisher should always be available. Fire can grow out of place when trying to create smoke in a honey bee smoker.
While this case is not typical, one can never err on the side of caution.
The take away
The importance of a bee smoker
cannot be overemphasized even if a beekeeper wears a complete bee suit. The smoke helps to cool down the bees and curbs the bees from perching on a beekeepers' dress. In this way, a beekeeper will be able to focus without any distractions.