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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Brainerd, MN
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant View Post
    I started out back in 1981 with the advice that "smoke only made the bees madder." I had a heavy suit that was hotter than an oven. I had a pair of welding gloves and after opening a hive, the bees kept flying at me pinging my veil and swirling around my entire body. I had to walk around in that hot suit for about fifteen minutes until they finally left me alone.

    Despite this advice coming from a respected mentor, I quietly purchased a smoker and have never regretted it. I've also not forgiven this mentor who has long since died.

    Yes, get a smoker.

    And as an aside, I had a call from someone who wanted to get a top bar hive. When I asked why they wanted a top bar hive, they responded, "Because I was told you don't have to use smoke."

    I gently suggested they get a smoker. I didn't even want to know who filled their heads with such nonsense.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    I have a smoker, but don't often use it. Most times in my Warre and TBHs the bees don't even notice that I'm there. I occasionally get a bee giving me a head butt. Can't say that it's a reflection of the hive or the bees.

    One nice thing about TBHs is that you can inspect them with little interference to the hive, especially if you aren't doing a complete brood inspection. This is mostly due to the fact that you can leave their roof mostly intact. Inspect one bar and slide it over to the other bar and so on. So at any given time you only have so much exposed. In Vertical hives (both Lang and Warre) you lift the cover off and everybody is exposed. This is made worse if you remove a box. Everybody can be airborne in little time.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    OP: Yes.

    Or, learn your lesson the hard way and buy one later. Your choice.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    227

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    If you're really against smoke, I saw a video where a guy used sugar water spray instead of a smoker. He did a cut out job and it seemed to work fine.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
    Posts
    306

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    I only have a single TBH, and as Bush84 said, often there's no need for a smoker as they don't get very agitated when manipulated. BUT, if there's something 'not right' in the hive, such as being in the middle of superceding the queen, or whatever, they WILL be grumpy. So having a smoker lit and handy can be a VERY good thing, even for a TBH keeper. A few puffs when you first notice that they're not in a good mood will allow you the time to (hopefully) figure out why and start to come up with a plan to make them right. If you're forced to close up and run, I've learned the hard way that problems rarely solve themselves.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    etowah,Alabama
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Saturday I went on my first swarm call. Not planning to use smoke a child spoke up "Are you not going to gas them?" I lit my smoker for her and explained to her and the adults present the reason we use smoke and the effect it has on bees. Yes get a smoker the people expect it. We went in our nearly month old packages yesterday with no smoke. Only a veil and gloves and could have probably not used them. As mentioned in previous replies they get mean during a dearth and if queenless.
    BB's Honey
    www.bbshoney.com

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,044

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    The whole smoker-Taliban thing is really overblown; I hear it a lot here in Granola County. "Would you fill YOUR house with smoke?", "Langtrough [sic] is how people keep bees as slaves", etc etc. Don't overuse it and smoke can be a colony's and a beekeeper's best friend. Be sure to 1) give the smoke time to work, 2) don't use plastics/treated materials in it, and 3) use just enough to settle them down or the occasional gentle puff to herd them along/clear the bars.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,015

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Ben over the last few days I've read a few excerpts from "The Barefoot Beekeeper" and discovered some of those ideas have been propogated in this book. For example he says not to use smoke which upsets the bees because they think there is a fire and have to go and gorge themselves on honey, but rather, gently spray them with water, which they think is a gentle, life giving rain, so they cluster quietly.

    I did have to wonder why rain inside the hive would not also be upsetting for the bees. Oh well.

    By the way just so I don't lead anyone astray, there is an old wives tale that smoking bees calms them because there is a fire so they think they have to leave the hive so rush of and load up with honey, after which they are too full to be aggressive. It's not actually true, the effect of smoke is instantly calming, the bees do not have to take the time to go gorge themselves on honey before it works.

    So how is smoke calming to bees? I don't think anybody absolutely knows the answer to that. But a likely theory is that when a hive becomes aggressive they release alarm pheremones. The smoke temporarily blocks these out, the bees think there is no problem.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    New Port Richey Fl USA
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    If you think you do not need the smoker, you probably don't.
    Then you are smarter and you know something 100000000's of beekeepers in last 10000's years did not know.
    I have no problem with that.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    So how is smoke calming to bees? I don't think anybody absolutely knows the answer to that. But a likely theory is that when a hive becomes aggressive they release alarm pheremones. The smoke temporarily blocks these out, the bees think there is no problem.
    I know this could be slightly off-topic/tangental, but I think it applies to the OP's intent...
    If I had to hazard a guess on the "how is smoking calming" thing, I think I'd guess that maybe 30% is alarm pheromone blocking by the smoke itself, and 70% would come from the CO2 in the smoke, as we already know that CO2 is a useful anesthetic for bees & other insects (even used for anesthetizing queens during artificial insemination), and since CO2 is a primary product of combustion, I'm guessing it's more responsible for the bees' "calming down" immediately after being smoked than many of us realize.

    That said, I have no evidence (yet) that directly supports my theory...but I do definitely intend to find a way to rig up a "CO2 smoker" to have a side-by-side comparison test on my hives. See how effective the CO2 is without the rest of the stuff in the smoke. (Like I said in another post, I'm a hopeless meddler)

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,405

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by robherc View Post
    .but I do definitely intend to find a way to rig up a "CO2 smoker" to have a side-by-side comparison test on my hives. See how effective the CO2 is without the rest of the stuff in the smoke. (Like I said in another post, I'm a hopeless meddler)
    But here is my idea on how to do that. Dry Ice in a conventional smoker and voilà a non-combustion CO2 "smoker".

    And yes you should have a smoker. I would prefer to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Don't needlessly make your life harder.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,015

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Robherc, that would be an interesting experiment, and would not be too hard to do long as you knew someone with Co2 you could borrow.

    I have my doubts about if it will work, because I cannot see enough Co2 concentration being caused by a smoker, for long enough, to have an aneasthetic effect. However it would be interesting to try and please report back if you do this.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by RiodeLobo View Post
    Dry Ice in a conventional smoker and voilà a non-combustion CO2 "smoker".
    Hmmm, don't think that would put out enough CO2...I'm currently trying to find my old "micro torch" that used little butane cartridges with identical dimensions to the common "BB gun" CO2 cartridges...failing that, I may have to actually PAY for something to do this experiment with.
    Either way, I'm thinking the compressed CO2 is the way to do it...just have to be sure not to freeze any bees with it....details, details.

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Economy, Indiana
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by robherc View Post
    Hmmm, don't think that would put out enough CO2...I'm currently trying to find my old "micro torch" that used little butane cartridges with identical dimensions to the common "BB gun" CO2 cartridges...failing that, I may have to actually PAY for something to do this experiment with.
    Either way, I'm thinking the compressed CO2 is the way to do it...just have to be sure not to freeze any bees with it....details, details.
    Interesting. I always guessed it was the CO2 that would turn the bees into crazed warriors if I happened to breathe on them. Must've been something I ate (or drank)
    Ken

  14. #34
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    I don't think you would absolutely need one, but I would get one if I were you. There's lots of times I inspect and I doubt spraying them would stop them.


    Nathan
    Good enough is perfect - Joel Salatin

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Flintshire, UK
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Here is Phil Chandler using powdered sugar as an alternative to a smoker http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00dczts

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,015

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Video wouldn't work for me but I did see the still shot of his powder blowing machine.

    Just wondering, what is more natural about using that machine to blow powdered sugar all over them, than using a smoker?

    Also, that top bar hive in the pic, is very weak. If there was a langstroth hive that weak in bees, you likely wouldn't need a smoker either.

    Kinda wondering if to Phil, everything anybody has done in the past is wrong, he just has to do something different, just for the sake of it. There is no way I would bother setting up that machine and blowing powder all over my bees.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Flintshire, UK
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    I hear what you say Oldtimer about blowing powder vs smoke - and it can always go back to the basic debate - as soon as humans start keeping bees, in truth it's domestication anyway.

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,015

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Checked your web site Amanda, Wow! What an amazing site. HUGE!
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Just wondering, what is more natural about using that machine to blow powdered sugar all over them, than using a smoker?
    Also, that top bar hive in the pic, is very weak. If there was a langstroth hive that weak in bees, you likely wouldn't need a smoker either.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't powdered sugar used to irritate the bees into chasing SHB into traps as a treatment for SHB...seems if it irritates 'em enough to chase SHB more than they normally would, it's not something I'd want to try using to PACIFY them before working the hive!

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,317

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by robherc View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't powdered sugar used to irritate the bees into chasing SHB into traps as a treatment for SHB...
    Powdered sugar is often used as a treatment for mites, but I haven't seen any credible references that it also is useful against SHB. Here's more info on powdered sugar in mite treatment:
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/figh...al-tactics-ii/
    (look near the bottom of the page.)
    Graham
    -- The real problem is not precise language, it's clear language. - Richard Feynman

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