Smoke

Beehive Smoker

Beehive Smoker

I’ve never liked smoking my bees. Smoke calms them down all right, but they aren’t quite themselves for a day or two. I figured a few minutes of bee panic is better than several days of befuddlement.

I’ve never smoked when installing a new package of bees.Β  It hasn’t seemed necessary. They’ve been more than happy to get out of that dreadful packing box.

Likewise I haven’t smoked when I’ve opened the hive for only a few seconds to feed or stick in a frame or two.

Smoking a Hive

Smoking a Hive

Today I pushed the envelope. Big mistake!

I wanted to switch out frames in a new hive from one deep box to another. Not for a good reason, mind you, but because I liked the paint color of the second box better. It wasn’t going to take very long.

It turns out that from the bees’ perspective it isn’t so much how long the disruption is but how distressing. Moving a frame with the Queen on it is apparently very distressing!

My gentle hive stung me five times through my bee suit and then went after the landscapers working next door. Thank goodness the landscapers did not get stung!

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I quickly closed up the hive and ran inside, followed by a few angry girls. My dog, the Noble Bayard, ate them with gusto. All is quiet now.

I’m going back out shortly to finish the job. Needless to say, I’m going to smoke from now on. It’s better for all of us!!

26 thoughts on “Smoke

  1. I like that your dog ate them!! One of our dogs (Francis) eats bees too, much to our chagrin. They’re our pollinators!

  2. me says:

    you deserve getting stung for being too oversensitive. too bad the innocent landscapers paid the price for your folly. smoking out bees is fine for normal folk. to quote me: “thumbs and feelings have doomed us all”.

    • The landscapers did not get stung, thank goodness. I’ve never claimed to be the best beekeeper, just a conscientious one. I’m the one who paid the price for my folly, and that’s the way it should be !! πŸ™‚

  3. We use the liquid bee smoke on our hives, diluted with water in a spray bottle. Seems to work better for us and the bees than the traditional smoker, but every colony is different.

  4. I can’t believe your dog eats bees! He must be pretty quick.

  5. solarbeez says:

    I like your concept of not smoking…but I got lit up to the tune of 25 stings one time…the bees got INSIDE my veil and I couldn’t get it off. The bees followed my wife into the house and stung the dog. She wasn’t too happy about it. While I hate to smoke the bees, it’s something I do now…saves the nerves and my marriage. πŸ™‚

  6. Kevin-Andrew says:

    Now that’s some drama! Good to know you survived.

  7. The lessons we learn the hard way are the ones we learn well, aren’t they? So sorry for you and the bees that this happened. I imagine most beekeepers have at least one similar story, Deb. All’s well that ends well. I hope today is better.

  8. swedess says:

    I went to a course in natural beekeeping with Phil Chandler. We split a hive, and the bees where awfully peaceful about it all, even with fifteen people standing around for hours, watching them get ready to swarm, then calm down once the hive was split and put in two (which included moving queen cells). Not a puff of smoke! We used a spray bottle, the kind you get at any grocery store, and gently sprayed water when need be. It simulates rain, which they’d rather get away from. No smoke, no stress… no stings. Smoke doesn’t just befuddle them, but stresses them as it means forest fire. I know there are thousands of beekeepers who disagree with any emerging practices that differ from what they’ve learned, but there are better ways of doing things, and more people are noticing!

    Also, opening your hives unnecessarily lets out the heat and pheromones the bees rely on to keep the hive healthy. I really recommend taking a look at the Barefoot Beekeeper book, and taking a course with Phil. It was very, very eye-opening. Good luck, and enjoy your bees!!!

    • Thank you for this helpful comment! I don’t treat my bees with chemicals and I try to operate as naturally as possible. I will definitely try the water bottle method. I can see the logic in it.
      Also, I usually don’t open my hives unless it’s really necessary. I am usually feeling guilty because I let them do their own thing.
      I will take a look at the Barefoot Beekeeper book. It sounds like it’s right up my alley!!
      Deb

  9. Anna says:

    I’ve heard several times, that the bees go into a “hyper-grooming” mode after smoking and the behavior may help dislodge more mites. The few times I’ve not smoked a large hive, they became very unhappy. But when it’s small and struggling, I tend not to use smoke.

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