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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Winkler, Manitoba, Canada
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    29

    Default Is smoking bad for my bees?

    My aunt and I both started beekeeping this year, and we each have "our" expert bee guys that we originally got our bees from and that we get all our info from, and her guy said something interesting -
    He said he doesn't actually smoke the bees, he just smokes himself, which makes the bees avoid him. He said if you smoke the bees they will go into the hive and eat honey.
    Just curious if this is a kind of fringe idea or if a lot of people do this.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    6,880

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Smoking is bad for people, but bees die in 3 to 4 weeks this time of year. On the humorous side smoking is worse for beekeepers. It is more important to get the bees and you comfortable working together. If that means smoking the entrance, under the cover, and every frame - smoke 'em.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Winkler, Manitoba, Canada
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    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Sounds good, I'm much more comfortable with that idea. I should pay attention to how I word my posts
    when I said he smokes himself, I just mean he smokes his beesuit with the smoker - not that he actually "smokes"
    Is that true that smoking them makes them eat more honey?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    One a day won't do much harm. But, when they get up to a pack per day, that probably isn't healthy for anyone, bees or humans.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Cleveland, Oh
    Posts
    98

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    One a day won't do much harm.
    Dang it Mark, you beat me to it!


    As for the bees, I was taught do both. Create a cloud of smoke around myself at the start to mask my own scent, then only very light puffs for the ladies.

    Sincerely,
    Paul E. Turley

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    26,791

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Two for me. One for you.

    Blame the heat. sorry. But I think you got the advice you needed. ditto what has been advised.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,067

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    It starts with smoking.
    Then they start hanging around the pool hall instead of working the flowers.
    Next thing you know they are buzzing down to the bar sucking mint julips looking for queens on the corners.
    Then they start working the poppies.
    It just keeps going down from there. CCD everytime.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    It was meant to be slightly humorous, however it is particulates inhaled that can cause respiratory problems and lung cancer. What bothers me most is beekeepers burning cardboard because of the formaldehyde glue and cloth that contains nylon and polyester. If you read the tags, very little does not contain synthetics. The response is usually something like the bees die soon anyway or it is just once a week. If you look at the inside of your smoker there is quite a bit of tar and ash in there.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Winkler, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    okay, humor I can handle as long as everyone isn't outright mocking me although I spose I'd get used to that too

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    You are a good sport.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
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    1,390

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    I imagine every hive is different, but I am lucky enough that my hives are very calm. If I use smoke it makes the girls PMS kick into high gear and the attitudes suck. I have stopped using smoke at all and can bust into the hives all the way to and through the bottom deep without a bother. Now I imagine things are different when its time to collect the honey, but until then, I am going to go smokeless!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
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    731

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeGhost View Post
    If I use smoke it makes the girls ... and the attitudes suck.
    I have found that to be true also. I now light the smoker and keep it handy, but usually only use it to chase bees out of the way so that I can set a box back without crushing them.
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    1,973

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    If smoke is making the bees angry, then you're probably over-smoking them. If they just make a sudden, strong buzzing sound (kind of like an engine with one quick step on the gas pedal) that's normal - it's a reflexive burst of wings moving of for a second. If they're mad, they'll be all over your face.

    There was a long thread just recently about smoke. It had a lot of good stuff in it. I'll look to find it.

    Wait, here it is. Look through this one here.

    Adam
    Last edited by Adam Foster Collins; 07-21-2011 at 06:26 PM. Reason: additional information

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    sewell, nj
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    523

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    u smoke bees, they consume honey right? does the honey get digested then re deposed on the frame?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    I've lived in a tipi for months at a time. I breathed a lot more smoke than the bees would in one opening in one day. You shouldn't be opening the bees more than once a week and probably not more than once a month. So it's a very minor amount of smoke if you are doing it right. You're not making them breath a "pack a day". You're just giving them a puff or two every month or two. There is no comparison to smoking. They are not in the same ball park.

    The most common smoking mistakes:

    • People have the smoker too hot and burn the bees with the flame thrower they are wielding
    • People use far too much smoke causing a general panic instead of simply interfering with the alarm pheromone. One puff in the door is enough. Another on the top if they look excited is ok and after that having it lit and setting nearby is usually sufficient.
    • People don't light the smoker because they think smoke upsets the bees, probably because of one of the above reasons.
    • People blow the smoke in and immediately open the hive. If you wait a minute the reaction will be completely different. If you’re doing something not too time consuming, like filling frame feeders or something, it’s a good plan to smoke the next hive before you open this one. That way the minute will be up when you open that one.
    • People don’t smoke because they have the idea that it is either bad for the bees or somehow unnatural. Their exposure is only a puff or two once every week or two. People have been smoking bees for at least 8,000 years that we have documented for one very good reason. Nothing works better at calming them.

    These mistakes may lead you to believe that smoking them is a bad idea. Not making them will convince you otherwise.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
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    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    I am not exactly an old hand at beekeeping (3 years, so far), but it always amuses me when first-year beeks proudly proclaim early in the spring that their bees are so gentle that they dont need to use smoke. Then we get a bunch of posts in the late summer about mean bees....

    Keep your smokers lit and use them.
    Last edited by Nabber86; 07-22-2011 at 08:33 AM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    5,079

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Just adding fuel to the fire but.....

    Bees have very short lifespans and are insects and don't have lungs and don't get cancer. Don't worry about it.

    However, if you have become reasonably skilled at manipulating a hive and have reasonably gentle bees, a smoker should seldom be necessary. I almost always keep one lit and handy though in case I come to a hive which is a bit grumpy that day or in case I drop a frame or box and make them angry.

    Time, experience, and practice will lead you to the conclusions Mr. Bush has made above.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
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    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Just adding fuel to the fire but.....

    Bees have very short lifespans and are insects and don't have lungs and don't get cancer. Don't worry about it.
    Maybe so. But, it all depends on what you are burning in your smoker.

    Let's not forget that many of the chemicals that make their way into the wax combs stay there for the duration.

    Also, there's the possibility of contaminating honey by burning the wrong fuel in your smoker.

    If you don't want to use a smoker, try 1:1 apple-cider vinegarater in a spray bottle.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Watauga, North Carolina, USA
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    366

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    If you don't want to use a smoker, try 1:1 apple-cider vinegarater in a spray bottle.


    Apple Cider Vinegar = Acetic Acid

    Acetic Acid is like Formic Acid, only slightly weaker.

    Acetic action dissolves the chitin of exoskeletons. If they're running, they're running because you are literally HURTING them. Whether or not it's because you're killing them, I'm not sure.

    I hear that you can use Acetic Acid to disinfect comb and equipment WITHOUT any brood or bees in it to disinfect it of nosema, but that's a different story altogether.

    If you REALLY need an alternative, there's sugar drench or liquid smoke. I have both in my arsenal, but you have to known when to use what. The sugar drench, with lots of lemongrass and peppermint and thyme, is good for them and delicious, but it causes clumping, and is not effective at all at removing bees from the top bars. In fact, they'll clump up there drinking it. You can bee brush them from there or liquid smoke them. But I always have that smoker lit and ready!


    And yes, they eat honey when you smoke them, but it goes in their honey stomach, where it is not automatically digested. They return it to the frame when they discover they don't need it.
    4.5 hives of Italians. 2 seasons of experience. And you-- yes, you! You're my mentor!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
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    4,317

    Default Re: Is smoking bad for my bees?

    Apple-cider vinegar has a low concentration of acetic acid in it. You're thinking of glacial acetic acid.

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