No doubt, a bee smoker is one of the essential beekeeping tools that you will need as a beekeeper. Bee smokers have been a necessary asset for beekeepers for many years, and it is still a necessity for beekeepers nowadays.
But, what is a bee smoker?
Bee smokers are used for calming bees down, and it reduces the chances of you getting stung. Generally, it keeps the environment where the beehive is safe.
Honey bees communicate with pheromones. Pheromones are chemical substances released into the beehive by some of the honey bees to influence the behavior of other bees. There is a pheromone for raising the alarm when any of the honey bees feels threatened. It’s’s like screaming at the top of your lungs to alert your friends when you perceive danger.
When you open the beehives to check your bees, the bees will feel threatened, and they will alert other bees by releasing the alarm pheromone within the hive. The release of the pheromone can make the bees attack you or anyone close to the beehive.
In a hurry or just plain curious?
What does a bee smoker do?
But, if you have a bee smoker with you, a couple of smoke puffs can prevent the attack. A bee smoker will cover the pheromone, stopping the alarm raised by some of the bees. This means the bees will stay calm since they are ignorant of any potential danger.
When you open the beehive, you should notice that many bees are feeding on the honey stored in the honeycombs. These smokers do not merely calm bees. Another benefit of using a bee smoker is the creation of a form of forest fire for the bees. While smoking bees within their hives, honeybees will think their home is on fire, so they’ll start making plans to leave the hive. The bees will consume as much honey as they can store to save it and move it to their new hive.
This will keep the bees busy and distract them from attacking you. And, when their stomachs are full, honeybees can’t sting because of their expanded abdomen.
Best Bee Smokers to Calm your Bees
Choosing the best bee smoker for your honeybees might be challenging, but I will make it easier for you. Let’s check the best bee smokers out there:
Beehive Smoker by Natural Apiary
Made of galvanized steel, this Beekeeping Smoker by Natural Apiary has durable corium leather bellows. It is safe to use with a heat shield or protective guard around the smoker to prevent your hands from scalding or burning. Built with a mounting hook, it is also easy to use. It allows your smoker to be hung on the side of the hive. And it makes this smoker easy to store too!
To ensure good airflow, the firebase of this smoker has perforations to create air pockets. This 11-inch beehive smoker has a barrel height of 7½ inches.
Users of this smoker have been ecstatic of its durability and sustain prolonged usage due to the galvanized steel coated with zinc to prevent corrosion.
VIVO Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker with Heat Shield
Beekeepers of all levels and honey hobbyists favor this bee smoker. Made of stainless steel, it releases cool smoke that lasts for a long time. Buying another bee smoker soon is out of the question with this durable VIVO Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker with Heat Shield. This smoker has a diameter of 5 inches, a height of 4 inches, and it weighs just 1.74 pounds. So it is easy to carry and use during bee hive inspections.
There is a heat shield around the smoker to ensure that the user won’t get burned. One of the unique features of this smoker is the air pockets at the bottom of the smoker to prevent overheating of the chamber. The makers of this smoker are sure of the high-quality, and they offered a six-month warranty.
VIVO Bee Hive Smoker is a tool you can trust. The smoke produced by this smoker lasts for twenty to thirty minutes, which longer than the time beekeepers usually spend in inspecting their beehives.
Although some beekeepers complain that the smoker gets too hot sometimes, that’s common for most bee smokers. Also, the leather material at the bottom of the smoker is another issue, but they offer a six-month warranty on the leather material replacement.
Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker
The Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker is an affordable smoker with great features and quality. If you need a quality smoker at a reasonable price, then this is the smoker for you. It is really sturdy because it is made from heavy-duty stainless steel and easy to use during bee hive inspections.
The smoker weighs 1.7 pounds and is roughly around 11 inches high. There is a mounting hook attached to the smoker for easy storage on the beehive box edge. Just like the Beekeeping Smoker by Natural Apiary and VIVO Bee Hive Smoker, this one from Honey Keeper has a heat shield too that protects you from burns when the smoker is hot.
I love this bee smoker because it is effective, lightweight, and easy to use. Also, it can be used for a long time since it produces smoke for more than twenty minutes, with its premium bellows producing consistent airflow.
Beekeepers of all levels can use the smoker. You don’t have to be an expert to handle it. It is also common among hunters that use the smoke produced by the smoker for a long time to mask their scent. Nevertheless, some beekeepers complained that the lid of the smoker did not seal properly, allowing to much air, resulting in fast burning of fuel.
Mann Lake HD540 Stainless Steel Smoker
The Mann Lake HD540 Stainless Steel Smoker is a high-grade smoker that is easy to use and long-lasting. This bee smoker is not heavy; it weighs around 1.81 pounds, making it easy to carry during hive inspections. It is made from durable stainless steel material. Also, the Mann Lake HD540 smoker has a heat guard that will protect you from getting burned. Beekeepers love this smoker for its high-quality and durability.
The Mann Lake Smoker is one of the most effective bee smokers out there. Many buyers of the smoker can testify to its reliability. Beekeepers buy this smoker because it produces a substantial amount of smoke that stays effective for a long time.
In addition, there’s rubber at the bottom of the bee smoker that stays intact after using the smoker many times. However, some beekeepers have complained about the lid of the smoker. They claim it can be difficult to properly cover the smoker with the lid during use. The high-quality of Mann Lake Smoker makes it more expensive than other bee smokers, but beekeepers that own the smoker knows that the price is worth the durability and effectiveness of the smoker.
MUDUOBAN Electric Bee Hive Smoker
This is my favorite electric bee smoker. The MUDUOBAN Electric Bee Hive Smoker is portable and designed with an electric fan instead of a bellow. This electric bee smoker is not only portable. It is also durable because of its stainless steel body.
Also, it has a heat shield and mounting hook. Unlike the traditional smoker, this electric bee smoker is less labor-intensive. It is generally more comfortable to use than the conventional smoker.
It uses four “AA” batteries to work. With high-quality batteries, you would be sure to get the smoker going with a full smoke in a matter of minutes.
How to Use a Bee Smoker
After choosing a bee smoker that suits you, another thing to consider is the bee smoker fuel to choose for the smoker. There are numerous options to choose from. The best types of bee smoker fuel are the ones that can stay lit for a long time while releasing cool white smoke. It is advisable to choose the best bee smoker fuel made with natural materials and produces good quality smoke.
Getting a bee smoker and a smoker fuel is not enough to produce cool smokes. It is essential to know how to use this smoker. You need to know how to lit a bee smoker and keep it lit. It is a simple process, and I will guide you through the steps.
The first step is starting the fire in the can of the smoker and then pump air to the fire to keep it burning. Pump air through the bellows of the smoker, which will also move the smoke out through the outlet of the smoker. Ensure that nothing blocks the airflow through the bellows of the smoker to keep the fire burning.
How to Light a Bee Smoker
Lighting a bee smoker involves three major steps. The steps include starting the smoker, kindling it, and keeping it lit with a fuel. All these steps need their own type of fuel. Hence, you will need a starter fuel, kindling fuel, and smoker fuel.
The starter fuel is a form of smoker fuel that can lit quickly and stay lit for a while. Cardboard, pine cone, and a sheet of newspapers make great starter fuels. Lit the starter fuel with a lighter, then place it at the bottom of the smoker. Ensure that the starter fuel maintains the flame by pumping the bellows three times.
After lighting the starter fuel, place the kindling fuel on its top till the burner is almost full. Pump the bellows again to keep the kindling fuel burning. Small and thin materials are usually used as kindling fuel. Examples of kindling fuel include wood shavings, dry shredded leaves, pine needles, etc.
It is then time to add the smoker fuel of your choice and keep pumping the bellows to produce the desired cool white smoke. After seeing the smoke, close the lid of the bee smoker and use it to smoke the beehive.
The smoker fuels do not burn like kindling fuels, they burn slowly, and they produce smoke for a long time. You could use materials like hardwood fuel pellets, wood chips, cotton smoking circles, small twigs, etc. for your smoker fuel.
However, some beekeepers don’t use starter fuels, but lighting the smoker without a starter fuel can be challenging for beginners.