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  1. #41
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    Jun 2011
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    Pensacola, Florida
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    159

    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.
    Oldtimer, this answer comes from a Dr. of Entomology who is the head of the Master Beekeepers program at the University of Florida.

    The nicotine in the smoke coats the antennae of the bees. (The antennae is the same as the noses of other animals. The organ that smells odors.) Without the scents or pheromones to guide the bees, they will become confused and eat.

    If you smoke yourself, you hide your scent and the bees will ignore you.

    Hope this clears up some of the misunderstanding.
    Peaches
    The Beekeepers Friend

  2. #42
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Oh well, thanks to the Dr for helping me with my misunderstanding.

    Just, after years of holding a smoker in one hand all day every day, and watching it's effect on bees, I have observed the effect is instant and they do not have to rush off and eat before it will work.

    Maybe cos unlike the Dr I don't use material that contains nicotine, I just rely on normal smoke.

    But hey. I'm just a humble beekeeper. Not a Doctor.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #43
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    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Oldtimer, I didn't say that they eat immediately. But they do within seconds of the smoke. When you smoke them off the top of the frames look at them when you pull a frame. Are some of them with their heads in the cells? I assume that they are eating. I could be wrong.

    Sorry if I made you upset. I didn't mean to. I've only been a beekeeper for about 15 yrs myself, so I am still learning too.
    Last edited by Peaches; 04-28-2012 at 04:39 AM. Reason: Addition.
    Peaches
    The Beekeepers Friend

  4. #44
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    No worries Peaches, not upset at all, more bewildered how this old wives tale continues, despite what can be plainly seen any time we work a hive. Sorry I made a joke of it.

    Sure, bees can sometimes be seen with their heads in a cell when we're in a hive. What about the others? Do we have to wait for them to do the same before smoke will have any effect? Obviously, no, we see smoke work much faster than that. But anyhow, at the end of the day, the "smoke works because the bees all go and gorge themselves silly till they can't sting" idea, is an appealing little story, if somebody wants to believe it, no skin off my nose it's not a major issue.

    Also, the Dr may be correct. What you have quoted of him refers to the effect of nicotine on bees antennae, and I don't know anything about that because like most beekeepers I don't use nicotine. I would be interested to see the context of his statement, or at least, the full statement, and see if he was referring to nicotine, or to smoke in general.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #45
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    Jun 2011
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    Pensacola, Florida
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Oldtimer, I don't think I said anything about gorging themselves, but I will try to find the reference that I am using for you.

    By the way, I am also enrolled in the 5 year program for Master Beekeeper. I am in the last year and half. I have reached Master and am working on Master Craftsman, the final level. I still have a lot to learn. And I feel that I can learn much from you, too.
    Peaches
    The Beekeepers Friend

  6. #46
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    2,996

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by Peaches View Post
    Oldtimer, I didn't say that they eat immediately. But they do within seconds of the smoke. When you smoke them off the top of the frames look at them when you pull a frame. Are some of them with their heads in the cells? I assume that they are eating. I could be wrong.

    .
    I thought this notion that bees eat when smoked had pretty well been discounted. I can't cite any research to back me up, but suspect there must be some. Certainly they stick their heads in cells... but are they eating? I think not.... but I've been wrong before.
    “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran

  7. #47
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    Jun 2011
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Herb,

    Why else would they have their heads in honey cells. I have found very few with their heads in pollen cells or empty cells. The nurse bees still feed the babies or at least are checking on then during the smoking time.

    Like you, I could be wrong as I don't know everything about bees. I have an email into Dr. Jamie Ellis of the Entomology Dept of University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. When I get some information from him, I'll post so all can see that I am right or wrong in my assumption. That still may not vindicate me among some of the more experienced beekeepers.
    Last edited by Peaches; 04-28-2012 at 11:25 AM. Reason: Spelling
    Peaches
    The Beekeepers Friend

  8. #48
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Here's a pic I took to show a queen cell being introduced. However for our purposes it's just a typical shot of a comb of bees, taken less than a minute after the hive was opened. The bees have been smoked and are calm. Only a tiny proportion of them, if any, have eaten any honey. That all bees can eat honey within seconds of the hive being opened is an impossibility. Often, a few do. Enough to explain how smoke works? No.

    What the Dr really meant could be answered by giving his whole quote, and context, rather than just a snippet of it referring to nicotine rather than smoke in general.

    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  9. #49
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    Jun 2011
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    Pensacola, Florida
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Next question, those who are apparently eating, are they guard/foragers or nurse bees? My experience is the nurse bees cannot sting as their stingers haven't stiffened up yet.
    Peaches
    The Beekeepers Friend

  10. #50
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Of the bees that might bury themselves in a cell, no idea which particular ones they are, sorry.

    But re nurse bees and stinging, nurse bees are physically quite capable of stinging, although they are less inclined to.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  11. #51
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    Jun 2011
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    Pensacola, Florida
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Oldtimer,

    Dr. Jamie Ellis sent me an email so here it is.

    Hey Peaches,

    Good to hear from you. Hope you are doing well.

    The answer is that smoke "masks" the alarm pheromone. It's like trying to smell a flower in a room where people just cooked bacon. The bacon smell masks the flower smell. When bees get mad, they produce alarm pheromone. The smoke "clouds" this smell, making it harder for bees to detect the alarm pheromone.

    This is how we think it works....

    Hope this helps!

    Jamie

    Jamie Ellis, PhD
    Assistant Professor of Entomology
    Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory
    Department of Entomology and Nematology
    University of Florida
    Bldg 970 Natural Area Drive
    PO Box 110620
    Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
    Phone: (352) 273 3924
    Fax: (352) 392 0190
    Email: jdellis@ufl.edu
    http://www.UFhoneybee.com
    http://www.AFBEE.com
    Peaches
    The Beekeepers Friend

  12. #52
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Thanks Peaches, looks like he's saying the same thing I've been saying for years.


    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    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.
    Good to see the "makes them eat honey" thing put to bed. Did the Dr actually say that?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  13. #53
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Nashua, NH, USA
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    58

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by bnm1000 View Post
    Just starting this year and will be installing a package into a new warre hive? I have a veil, jacket, hive tool and brush. Do I really need a smoker, or can I get by with just a hand sprayer when working with my warre?
    I'm not sure if the original question was really answered or not as bnm1000 was asking "can I get by with just a hand sprayer when working with my warre?" not just do you need a smoker. Although I use a smoker, I'm wondering if the poster uses liquid smoke in the hand sprayer? Or essential oils/sugar/water? I think the effectiveness is in that order with smoker being on top. If the poster has a sprayer and liquid smoke and this is a WARRE hive, manipulated under Warre conditions (minimally) then it isn't whether most beekeepers should have a smoker, but should someone with a one hive that they work with a minimal Warre approach, but don't usually ever totally open get a smoker over the liquid smoke. That liquid smoke takes longer to do the same thing the smoker will do and the effect isn't as long, but it seems to do the same thing. I think a smoker is cool and the fuel is free for me versus buying liquid smoke. But to hive a package you don't use any smoke. To simply nadir and grab the honey off the top and leave the bees alone isn't much so for them I'm casting a dissenting opinion. The liquid smoke spray bottle would be fine. (If poster is using Sugar water, or honeybeehealthyin in that spray bottle, as they are asking and not hardcore decided against smoke, then I'd say the spray bottle is NOT adequate for ALL jobs (even if for some i.e. hiving the bees spray is better than the smoker) so then you need to get a smoker or liquid smoke.

  14. #54
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    Aug 2011
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    Nashua, NH, USA
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Also a smoker might be intimidating (light it, keep it lit) and one more thing when already overwhelmed by things to learn. Liquid smoke works, doesn't go out, and with the posters 1 Warre hive would be a cheaper choice until a break point with a smokers cost at 10+ years. I like real smoke better but probably aesthetics and cost being different for multiple hives, and you can run out of liquid smoke. Here in the north east if I run out of the fuel I use I just look around my feet, almost everything burns. I also like that real smoke works faster and lasts longer (so for shorter jobs won't need to reapply.) So although I like a smoker I believe that there are multiple valid solutions as people are working under different scenarios. Liquid smoke offers a fine alternative that works and might be a better choice for the poster even though I prefer a smoker.

  15. #55
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    Mar 2012
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    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Actually, in a reversal of my previous stance , I have started not using smoke on my bees, at all... I just spray 'em all with a mist of syrup with a few drops of LGO & spearmint oil per gallon...the foragers & guard bees are usually the first to get misted, so it usually works great; no alarm pheromone (unless I inadvertently squish someone), and very little flying as the ones whose wings AREN'T sticky seem to be perfectly happy to lick the ones who are "covered in yummy". I've done total hive transfers on my TBH hives...bar-by-bar, complete with having to trim a couple combs to fit the new box, using only the syrup. One warning though, if you take too long, and don't reapply syrup as they get each other cleaned up, you may have a LOT more bees "flight-worthy" than you bargained for...usually right about the time you drop something! (happened to me yesterday....you know what 40,000 REALLY mad bees sounds like? lol )

  16. #56
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    Mar 2010
    Location
    Richmond, Virginia, USA
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    227

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    I even heard that using the right materials (mestique, which I can't spell or tobacco) you can kill mites with the smoke while you're in the hive.

  17. #57
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    santa monica, ca
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    175

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    It occurred to me the other day that if one were to smoke a pipe or cigar while inspecting one might not need a smoker. A friend I mentioned this to wondered about the toxicity of tobacco to the bees. thoughts?
    Buzz Abbott
    USDA zone 11a, Western Garden zone 24 (75 ft elev. n34.0w118.47)

  18. #58
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,142

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Nicotine is an insecticide. But it takes higher levels than you can produce by smoking... now if you put a lot of it in your smoker and really pour it on, you can kill them...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #59
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Mesa County Colorado USA
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    122

    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    I'd use one.
    Before a bee stings, it will be sure to let you know that it will hurt them more than it will hurt you.

  20. #60
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    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
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    Default Re: do i need a smoker?

    Quote Originally Posted by robherc View Post
    Actually, in a reversal of my previous stance , I have started not using smoke on my bees, at all...
    Yeah, right after I posted that one of my hives (a feral swarm, captured in HEAVY AHB territory) decided to play "demons with wings" with me during a hive inspection...will definitely be smoking them next time I go in, thanks for makin' a liar out of me, girls!

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