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  1. #1

    Default The Barefoot Beekeeper

    I am just learning about natural beeekeeping and top bar hives. I have just read and review The Barefoot Beekeeper. Is that a popular book in the States or just the UK.

    Anyhow ... I am wondering, what would happen if I opened my Langstroth hive without using smoke? Any experience anyone?

    Thanks,

    Roger

  2. #2
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    Jun 2012
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Well, I use TBHs, but have never used a smoker. I would think it depends on the temperament of your bees, your confidence level, your willingness to be stung, how much you suit up, etc. I have very forgiving bees. I was so afraid when I first started, I dropped the queen cage twice, let bars slip out of my hands and crash back down into place, etc. Bees would fly out a bit to put me on notice, but they always went back to their business immediately. One of my hives still revs up like a jet engine when I pull out a few bars, but they always cut me some slack. Just haven't ever felt the need to smoke the bees.

    Sondra

  3. #3
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    Apr 2012
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    Baytown, TX., USA.
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Sondra, where did you get your bees? Some of mine are from the Weavers and some from Honeybeegenetics and they will not tolerate fooling around, period. If I am smoking, careful and smooth I can work them easily, slam bang a bit and I become VERY unwelcome.

  4. #4
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    Wash Co., Ohio
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Depends on the day, the bees, etc.
    I have had to open without smoke before, and most of the time, if you're smooth about it, they're fine and hardly notice you. There are days however that it hasnt worked so well.
    Mind, I usually use a puff or two, but sometimes I'm out, or forgot, or lazy...

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Dear July:

    Both of my hives are from B Weaver in Navasota. Really nice hives so far, and great temperaments for a newbee. Just requeened one of the hives (with a B Weaver queen), and hope she's nice. Next time, will try to help the girls raise their own queen, but I was out of time this time.

  6. #6
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    Arlee MT USA
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    I have langs and I've never used smoke.

    What happens (with my hives) is nothing much. The bees keep doing there thing. Maybe a couple take off and fly away. Thats about it. I understand not all hives are this way but I personally have never used smoke and I haven't worn a veil since the very first day.

  7. #7
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    There are tons of threads here about the use of smoke. From what I can see, most of the people by far who don't use smoke are new to beekeeping. Most of the people with more experience have seen times when the bees get nasty, and know it's good to have on hand and know how to use it.

    My advice is this: First learn how to use it, and give yourself enough time with the bees to learn to read them well. To me, that's a few seasons. Assume that the last couple hundred years of beekeeping with a smoker had a point, and learn to light a smoker and keep it lit through your inspections. Then make your decisions on when to use smoke or not.

    There are just too many examples of people getting a shock when the bees turn nasty and are still stinging them 50 yards from the hive. Really nasty bees can do you some damage in short order. It's easy to be "the bee whisperer" when they're gentle. But are you prepared to handle them when they get really ugly?

    Adam

  8. #8
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    Mar 2012
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    Verner, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    I personally dont use smoke now, without a shirt and also bearfeet most of the times, just the way I can now, there is no prep needed, I just go out to see them and open it up and do what I can to help..I rub my hand on the entrance a minute or two before I open her up, just to let them know "this" smell was here and did not hurt them.. seems to work very well, even my 2 and a half year old daughter has no problems being close and handing the top bars back top me, she loves to touch them :P as for the use of smokers, I think it's a "new age" thing to not use it, the "experienced" beekeepers might just use a smoker because that's what was mainstream then... all just an opinion though.

    I was using a lanf for my first year which was last year :P and I was smoking and wearing a veil because that's all I knew...A friend would come and help me once in a while with no beekeeping experience per say, and he never wore protection and I noticed he was working "Around" the bees not the other way around.. and I simply adapted that way when I changed them to my top bar hive. even when we did the split it took us just about 30 minutes he did not wear protection, we seperated supers and checked most of the frames for the 6 best to transfer to my top bar , he never even got stung.. they were rearing new queens which was ideal for what we were doing. so my hive has a new queen that got mated with whatever was feral, not alot of beekeepers or hives around..

    I usually go in after work so around 6:30 to 7:00, it's still quite warm outside though..

    I feel alot closer to m y bees now without the smoker.. they know I'm around and accept me being in there.
    Last edited by Terra Vita; 07-21-2012 at 06:43 AM. Reason: Added time I usualy go in the hive
    Tommy
    Terra Vita

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Make sure to post the picture of how big your face got when you get stung. If you want to inspect bees with nothing on be my guest, but make sure you don't advise newbies that it's ok. My bees are very gentle. Most times I don't use smoke, but bees can get in a bad mood. On occasion all I have to do is take off the lid and there's an instant alarm pheromone with bees on my veil. And keep in mind that I run TBHs, Warres, and Langs. It seems to me that bees certainly react differently to inspections across all hives, but I wouldn't be caught dead in just shorts.
    Not Michael Bush. My name is Dan. Sorry for the confusion.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    I didn't mention above that one of the reasons I haven't felt the need to use a smoker is because I suit up like The Michelin Man when I go out to the hives. My Golden Bee suit is three layers of mesh, and I even wear clothes under that. But what's a little sweat??!

    Sondra

  11. #11
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    Bon Aqua, Tn USA
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    I have went through mine every time except the first without smoke and thus far can tell no difference. I do wear a veil if I am going all the way through it. I am not against smoke just quit using it for now, but would not hesitate to light up if I need it. Try it and see for yourself, that is the only way to learn for sure. One time does not a pattern set.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    How often do those who use no protection or smoke actually open their hives up pull frames out and inspect? Its not about being "closer" to the bees by not using smoke its about being safe for you your neighbors and your bees. If the smoker is lit properly the smoke should be white and COOL not not and usually a small amount is needed. This induces the bees to eat honey as they believe the hive to be in danger due to fire and than in a stuffed I- just- ate- a- thanksgiving meal slows them down and calms them. For those who have never used smoke or not even a veil-how do you go in the hive when there is no nectar flow and the bees are really cranky--or do you just not go in despite the fact that certain tasks have to be done not during ideal no veil no smoke times?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    I rarely smoke when I am going into a hive. I use it to manage the bees when I am closing the hive back up.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  14. #14
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    To the OP - I've read it and agree with the ideas Phil presents. I do think it is more popular in the UK though, just as biobees.com has more people from the UK on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by julysun View Post
    mine are from the Weavers and some from Honeybeegenetics and they will not tolerate fooling around, period. If I am smoking, careful and smooth I can work them easily, slam bang a bit and I become VERY unwelcome.
    My bees are also from B Weaver and they don't like me getting into the hive. From the moment I lift out a bar they are on me like I owe them money.

    I use smoke but they don't seem to care. They are still pretty nasty. A while back I wanted to get in there so I set up the sprinkler on a mist setting near enough the entrance it would make the bearded bees go back in. Once they were in I pulled it away so they didn't get water in the hive, but I could retreat to it if they got too nasty. Then I use a squirt bottle of H2O whenever they get too aggressive on me. This seems to be the best system I've found so far. I've also taken a bar of capped honey from them when they built it all huge and weird. It was delicious.

    Quote Originally Posted by SRBrooks View Post
    Just requeened one of the hives (with a B Weaver queen), and hope she's nice. .
    Why did you have to requeen?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    "...even my 2 and a half year old daughter has no problems being close..."

    Do you put a veil on your daughter? Might want to give that some thought. It's your choice as an adult to work your bees w/o smoke or veil. But a sting to the eye can and has caused permanent blindness.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Suiting up does not prevent the bees from a stressful defensive reaction....smoke can and usually does. The difference between not letting the river flood or getting everyone in boats when it does.
    Deknow

  17. #17
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Most people who don't smoke decided not too after oversmoking (and probably flaming) the hive and seeing that it upset them. Proper smoking is a good strong puff in the door and one across the top and the smoker putting a little in the air during the time you work them. The difference is night and day in a dearth or anytime the bees aren't in the best mood (cloudy, late in the day, early in the day etc.). I've opened hives on thousands of occasions with and without smoke. If you are looking for a queen, I would light it and set it on the ground next to the hive (assuming no fire danger of course) and not blow any in the hive. If you want to do a full inspection I would do a puff in the door, one on top and another one if they start to get excited. Odds are, sooner or later you will learn to use smoke if you keep beekeeping. They are not always that nice without it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Coincidentally, one of my hives was super-pissy today for the first time. As you mentioned, it is hot, humid and cloudy. They revved up like an engine when I removed one top bar, many came out to see me...so I closed up the hive and will leave them alone for today. I was suited up well. Good thing.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    The person asked for an opinion and other people's experience, I just gave him mine, I dont believe it would work for everyone but it does for us.
    Tommy
    Terra Vita

  20. #20
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    Default Re: The Barefoot Beekeeper

    Dear Terra Vita:

    I hope we didn't sound judgmental or condescending. I think what we're saying is that the temperament of a hive can change when you least expect it, and it's better to be safe than sorry. I don't use a smoker, but I suit up to the max, and today I was really glad I do. My hive has never reacted like they did today.

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