If there’s one thing any young child who gotten a little too close a hive knows, it’s that bees can be a bit cranky when disturbed! As a beekeeper, you’ll find yourself up-close and personal with bees on a regular basis, so how do you make them comfortable with you working in their home? They are bees, after all, and the only thing about bees more famous than their honey is their sting. The most effective way to calm your little buzzing friends is by the use of a Bee Smoker.
A bee smoker is a device that generates smoke (no surprise!) by burning specific fuel sources, distributing that smoke throughout a beehive and calming the bees’ pheromones that trigger alarm and self-defense. Additionally, smoke from a bee smoker tells a bee of a potential fire— a bee’s instincts will alert the bee that it had better stock up on food while it can. And a full bee is a bee that can’t trigger the necessary reflexes to sting you! It’s like when you’ve eaten a little too much pizza to walk across the room to grab the remote and change the channel…
Before you call up the local pizza place, let’s refocus and discuss exactly how to choose which bee smoker is going to suit your needs the best. Though each smoker operates on the same basic principles, it will be extremely important to find the bee smoker that is right for you. Remember, beekeeping is a time-intensive hobby. A poorly made or designed bee smoker may not be an issue at first, but over time the small issues with your smoker will eventually wear on you mentally and frustrate you. Basically, choose the right bee smoker and you’ll be happy shepherd for you honey bee friends. But before we begin discussing bee smokers themselves, we’ve got to talk about fuel.
Bee Hive Smoker Fuel
Many types of fuel are perfectly safe to use in a smoker, but the critical thing to remember is that the ingredients in your fuel must be all-natural and completely free from non-organic chemicals that can be harmful to bees. A good rule of thumb is that if something would hurt the environment if you were to burn it, it will probably hurt your bees! Stick with natural fuels like leaves, pine needles, old or rotted wood, and even cardboard or paper cartons. You can also find fuels made specifically for bee smokers that will of course do the job quite well.
When it comes to the various types of bee smokers available, it’s important to remember that your choice comes down to what suits you the best. Most smokers available will do the job, but some have different safety measures to protect you from being burnt and to protect the bees from being “over-smoked”. (Remember, you want to calm them down, not give them a headache.) Some smokers are double-walled, where the inner chamber contains the burning fuel and is separated by a second, outer wall that makes up the outer casing of the bee smoker. Other smokers are surrounded by a wire grill that keeps the fuel contained. Regardless of design, almost all bee smokers consist of a metal cylinder-shape with a funnel on the top, attached to a bellows device used to push the smoke up and out into the beehive. Think of an accordion that you squeeze air through to make sound, except instead of pushing out the awful sound of an accordion, you’re pushing calming, natural-smelling smoke into your beautiful beehive so that you can get to work.
Just make sure that the bee smoker you select is quality-made and serves your style well, and you won’t have any problems. With your smoker in hand, there will be no stopping you from becoming a beekeeping master the likes of which the world has never seen! Okay, maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. But make no mistake, you’ll look like a pro working those bellows.
Watch our educational video on Bee Smokers to learn more:
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