Bee Smoker parts
|Size||4x7 inches||4x11 inches||4x11 inches||4x11 inches||4x11 inches||4x7 inches|
|Volume||352 inches3||553 inches3||553 inches3||553 inches3||553 inches3||352 inches3|
|Bellow Material||Leather||Leather||Vinyl||Leather||No Bellow||Rubber|
|Hanger Type||Double loop||Loop||Hook||Hook||Loop||Hook|
Bee Smoker comparison
What bee smoker fuel to choose?
I really like pine needles. They smell pretty good when they’re burning and I usually keep a bag of these in a greenhouse which keeps them nice and dry. If your fuel is damp, you’re going to constantly have trouble keeping this thing lit. There are also commercial smoker fuels like compressed cotton pellets. They work fine. They don’t smell as nice as pine needles, but there’s a host of fuels. As for me, best bee smoker fuel is the one from Mann Lake – start fast, lit long, no need to use additional materials. But anyway you can use a lot of different natural materials, wood pellets, all kinds of things.
How to light bee smoker?
I start with a little fuel in the bottom and I light that fuel and I want to puff that until I see flames coming up. Get that burning really well and then I’ll lightly stuff a little more on top. Now we’re starting to get smoke. I’m using the bellows to get that burning. Our goal is to have the ember in the bottom. That’s where our heat is and then a smoldering fire down there. Then as the smoke filters through all this fuel, it cools. It has time to cool. We don’t want to be blowing hot, fiery smoke on our bees. We want cool smoke. So as that gets burning I add more fuel, and this thick, white smoke is what we’re after. This is what’s really going to help us work our bees. So I pack that down, give it a few more puffs. When you initially light it, a lot of times folks put fuel in too quickly and they put the smoker out, so make sure you continue to get that nice thick, white smoke coming and once I feel like I’ve really got it burning good in the bottom, I’ll go ahead and pile in a nice big handful, pack it down.
Sometimes I’m working bees for several hours so I want a lot of fuel in there. So now we’ve got our heat in the bottom, and you can test that smoke on your hand. It’s very cool. We don’t want to be throwing flames and sparks on your bees, burning their wings and such. They won’t appreciate that very much. We just clouded up a little bit but if there’s thunder in the distance sometimes bees react to that. They’ll be more aggressive and more sensitive. They’re very sensitive the barometric pressure so they know when the storm’s coming way before we do and you’ll watch like… I might not have any sense that there’s a storm and there will be large numbers of bees coming back to the hive and very few leaving and then 15-20 minutes later, a big cloud comes over the mountain, starts rumbling, the bees knew that way before I did because they sense that change in barometric pressure… Pretty cool stuff but they’re also a little more potentially aggressive when there’s an approaching storm.
Also, you know, during the middle of the day when its hottest might not be when you want to get in your bees but you want to get in your bees during that time a day because most of the foragers are out in the field. The foragers are your old, grouchy bees, so the less of those that are available in the hive, the easier time you’re going have worked your hive. If you get in there at the crack of dawn when everybody’s home, you have a lot more bees to get upset at you. Same thing if you wait till near dark you have a lot more trouble too so when the peak foraging time is, say between 10 a.m. and 4-5 p.m. is the best opportunity to get in the bees. You’re working with their time schedule a little better that way.
In the end I want to say just a couple of words. Remember, even the best bee smoker does not replace intuition and experience. Learn your bees – it’s main rule. Wish you successful inspections!