May 28, 2024

Smokers – Good Practice

Smokers are vital to beekeeping to allow us to control our bees but they must be treated with care. Misuse of this piece of equipment can have serious consequences. There have been two instances of vehicles catching fire due to smokers from Beds BKA members over the years. This shows that matters can go badly wrong if care is not taken.

Lighting smokers
Push your veil back from your face when lighting the smoker. A smoker can easily throw out a significant flame when first lit which can reach the veil. The mesh in veils is quite thin and if flame touches it a burn hole will result. In extreme situations, some veils could catch light and burn your face.

Using a smoker
When bees are smoked, it encourages them to gorge on honey and full bees are less able to use their sting. Smoke also masks alarm and sting pheromones within the hive thereby reducing bee antisocial behaviour. Finally, smoke allows the beekeeper to force bees back down into the hive when reassembling it, and so there is less danger of crushing them.

And don’t forget to have enough fuel on hand to complete the colony inspection. A smoker going out part way through an inspection will make it difficult to close up a hive.

When not in use
It is a good idea to fix a hook to the back of the smoker so that it can be hung easily from a brood box etc. when not in use.

Or if the smoker will not be used for a while leave it on its side so that it uses less fuel and can be brought back into use with a few puffs.

If you want to transport the smoker to another apiary whilst lit, place it in a metal bucket. If it falls over in transit, it will not drop hot embers in the vehicle.

When you are finished
Insert a cork or plug of grass into both the spout and bellow hole when you have finished beekeeping. With no air supply the smouldering fuel will soon die out.

To prevent countryside fires, do not empty hot ashes onto fields or in woods; wait until the smoker is cold and then dispose of the ashes.


Version 1            January 2017                                          Owner – Executive Committee