How do you spray advocates handle a day like I am having?
Outside temp is 64.8°F with a variable breeze of 5 to 10MPH. I have several combines to get done, and the schedule for the rest of the week says today is the only chance I have.
Can you get enough spray on your bees to be effective without chilling or other detrimental effects on the hive?
Do you switch to actually useful and universal smoke when your weather is not conducive to using a liquid coolant on your hives and bees? What if the work needs to be done today and can’t wait until weather is more suitable for wetting your bees?
How long after you have sprayed them down do they return to normal activity? With smoke and correct manipulation mine seem to return to normal very quickly.
I use it as others use a smoker, without the hassles. A spritz or two to knock on the front door, and another spritz or two under the roof. If I'm moving frames, another spritz or two, If I'm moving bodies/supers, the same thing in between. I give them 30 seconds after each before I go in.
It works by the same principal as smoke. It masks the alarm pheromone.
However, if I was a commercial guy or in AHB land, I would stick to a smoker because it's a 'best practice'. Besides, the other beekeepers would tease me.
Do any of you have any idea how many different chemical compounds are found in smoke from burning plants?
You certainly don't need all of those compounds to get the job done.
As a strong supporter of medical marijuana I thought is would be a good idea to use it in my smoker. I figured if it worked for people it would likely cure all the bee problems to, but after the first hive I forgot what I was doing and found my self head first in a bag of Doritos with 40 thousand honeybees. I swear they were talking to me.
You bring up an interesting point: are you masking the alarm pheromone or are you intoxicating the bees when you smoke them?
"Beekeeping. It's a journey, not a destination." Mark Berninghausen
It's a common fact that smoke contains high levels of Dihydrogen Monoxide: http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html
Yes, but is there enough to make their wings droop?
Well you know exposure to any chemical is bad, especially an inorganic chemical like Dihydrogen Monoxide.
WLC, and others. Please take no offence to what I might have to say here. It is really not intended in the way it may sound. I wouldn’t try to sway opinion, or change the way you chose to work your bees even if you were using a garden hose rather than a spray bottle. I am simply trying to follow the thought process that led people who use misting rather than smoke.
Has the propaganda on TV and in schools become so effective that people now simply have such a smoke aversion that it is just “bad”, regardless of the context?
Is the 10 minutes of smoke from a fire really more of a detriment to the bees health and well being than the hour or so it takes the bees to clean each other off after being misted?
I have a buddy that uses a spray bottle, and in my observation his method seems correct. He is not aiming for bees, or trying to wet every single bee in other words. But, it takes much more time for his hives to return to normal when being worked, than mine do. I have direct observations on this, and direct experience. When I am working his hives I mist, or use nothing, because they are his hives and I work them as he wants it done. When working mine, he is not willing to use smoke, and so does without. 9 out of 10 times when I work my colonies, the smoker is lit but is not needed or used anyway, so it works out.
I have never had much luck trying to move bees around with a spray/misting bottle. It seems if they get hit they just stick and immediately start trying to get the substance off of themselves. Soon others are there attempting to help with the cleaning, and now I have a larger clump of bees where I wanted none. With smoke they can be easily moved all over the hive, or in little circles if you were so inclined.
Because there are 4096 compounds and chemicals in smoke doesn’t really become a factor in this either, the way I see it. There are volcano, forest fire, automobile exhaust, and the list goes on that nothing can be done about. We all, people and bees breath it all day every day. Unless, the fuel I use is a concentrated chemical, plastic, or some other substance, I am not creating a problem. But, if it makes you feel like you are doing your part by not striking match I am pleased for you.
So, I guess I have put myself out there enough. I was actually hoping for some direct responses to the questions I originally asked but I am thinking that this boils down to a matter of perception. Greater good, or greater harm, depending on perspective.
Now my two cents. The nicotine in the smoke coats the antennae of the bees, effectively masking (clogging up their smellers) the pheromones of the hive. The bees have some little hooks on their front legs that they use to comb the antennae to rid themselves of the nicotine.
The smoke causes the bees to become confused and they automatically suck up some honey just in case they have to move. With a full honey stomach, the bees become lethargic and very calm. It does not harm them in any way. As long as you don't hurt a bee individually, then you can work for about 3-5 minutes before needing to puff them again.
In the old days, we would use burlap (tow-sacks) for smoker fuel. But the manufacturers started putting chemicals in the twine to keep the rats from eating through to the grain. This chemical was playing havoc with the bees' demeanor. I use either pine straw or wood pellets from the bee suppliers. Either works well.
Last edited by Peaches; 07-22-2011 at 04:22 PM. Reason: redword and grammer
The Beekeepers Friend
I wonder if every last practice of beekeeping was always endlessly questioned, or if it's just really gone crazy since CCD...
Now it seems like every long-held method is in question and potentially 'bad'. I suppose its logical to some degree...
Well, do you really need the 4,096 or so compounds to get the job done?
Some beekeepers use Juniper to both smoke their bees and knock down varroa. I'd say that it still depends on what's being used in the smoker.
There's a bunch of research out there studying olfaction in the Honeybee, including this one:
It puts together, for the first time, key proteins involved in Honeybee olfaction all in one place.
Hopefully, one day soon, you won't have to ask the question, 'Is smoking bad for my bees?' because smoking bees will become an anachronism. Your smoker will be replaced by something far more effective and practical.
>inorganic chemical like Dihydrogen Monoxide.
Yes, by definition not organic... no carbon at all, let along chains...
>Hopefully, one day soon, you won't have to ask the question, 'Is smoking bad for my bees?' because smoking bees will become an anachronism. Your smoker will be replaced by something far more effective and practical.
I've tried all the currently touted solutions, except the vinegar, I've done essential oils, syrup, water, liquid smoke and even this stuff from Europe (back when I had those really hot Buckfasts) in a aresol can called "Fabi.." something or other. None were any where NEAR as effective or as practical as smoke.
As for bees eating honey because of smoke, I have opened plenty with and without (mostly without as I'm always looking for queens) and I see no difference in the number of bees who are filling up on nectar. I don't think it is in any way related to the mechanism of calming bees with smoke. It's the interference with their sense of smell, IMO. I'm not sure why nicotine was mentioned. Unless you are using tobacco (and most people aren't) there isn't enough nicotine to matter. If you are using tobacco then you should keep in mind that nicotine is an insecticide...
Corvair, I know that you were being funny.
Nabber, I also know that you were being 'funny' with the dihydrogen oxide (aka H2O/water) gag. Not funny.
However, I think that the OP has raised a valid point that deserves to be taken a little more seriously.
Anyway all joking aside. Back to the original post: Is smoking bad for my bees?
If somebody makes a highly dubious claim like nicotine is commonly present in smoker fuel (other than tobacco) and uses a fallacious argument (appeal to authority)* to back it up, I call BS. Simple as that.
* I think you can find several hundred similar fallacious arguments on the DHMO website. Not funny there, but it's OK here?
Last edited by Nabber86; 07-23-2011 at 01:03 PM.
"He said he doesn't actually smoke the bees, he just smokes himself, which makes the bees avoid him."
Nabber, that's funny. Some bee guy said this to the OP.
But, I don't think that the improper use of a smoker, as explained by Mr. Bush, or issues with what is being burned, or what is getting into the hive is humorous.
Now, if someone is saying that nicotine is being produced by smoker fuel...?