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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Madison County, AL (USA)
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    9

    Default An alternative to a smoker

    Anyone ever tried spraying the bees with sugar solution instead of using a smoker?

    If so, has it worked okay? Any problems?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,149

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Spraying them keeps them from flying, but smoking them actually keeps them calm - on account of it interferes with their ability to spread the alarm via pheromones. Different tools for different purposes.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Caldwell, Idaho, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Last year for most of my first year I did not have a smoker and used a 1:3 mix syrup with several drops of lemongrass and spearmint oil, enough to make it have a pretty strong smell. I did not really soak them down with it, just sprayed some on the inside walls. They seemed to enjoy the spray buffet and pretty much ignored me, even in the fall. Not a hot hive anyway, though. A friend gave me a smoker but I can't seem to keep it lit so will probably still use the spray sometimes hehe...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Brown County, IN
    Posts
    2,034

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    There's a reason beekeepers have been using smoke for thousands of years. As David said, smoke works differently than spritzing them with sugar water. While I'm often able to go through my colonies without smoke, I always keep the lit smoker handy. There will come a time when your bees are hot, or you're in the hive longer than they like, or you drop a frame of bees and you'll want smoke.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,238

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Know your bees.
    I have feral survivors, if I pull frames I use smoke gloves and veil.
    If I put feed above the inner cover no smoke.

    I have heard of people that have very gentle bees no gloves or veil, they may use smoke. I bet they could get away with just sugar water spay.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,284

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    How do you handle the frames w/out getting your hands or gloves sticky, if you spray them w/ syrup?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Why do I need an alternative? I've tried the alternatives. I use smoke. It has been the standard method of calming bees for the last 10,000 years for a good reason... it works.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Berlin, Germany
    Posts
    36

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Why? I can think of one reason... the smoke. ;-) (Especially bad if you're a non-smoker.)

    BTW, I trick I learned for lighting and keeping a smoker lit: Use a piece of broom stick or something similar that's handy and wrap a small piece of parchment paper around it (e.g. baking paper) to make a tube. Place this in the center of the can, add fuel (more than you think), then remove broom stick and light smoker.

    Worked for me; your mileage may vary.

    -K
    Kevin M. Pfeiffer -- Berlin, Germany

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Madison County, AL (USA)
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Why do I need an alternative? I've tried the alternatives. I use smoke. It has been the standard method of calming bees for the last 10,000 years for a good reason... it works.

    You may not need an alternative, Michael Bush. But I was just asking out of mere curiosity.

    Funny thing - standards and beekeeping. The standard hive design for thousands of years never involved moveable frames. But if you try telling that to certain beekeepers, they will rip you a new one!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Hi. I am a very new to bees. I too have been asking around about spraying vs. smoking. On Biobees.com, the group I asked advised having a smoker handy just in case needed. They also advised using water with a few drops of peppermint extract. I hope this helps.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,742

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    I've never been against trying new things and I have tried water, sugar water, liquid smoke, HBH in light syrup etc... nothing works as well as smoke.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    A detail you need to ponder, Misting syrup only gets the bees "on top" so lots of bees don't get misted. Smoke fills the hive and triggers a reaction.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Montgomery County, NY
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Jack

    Once you deal with a hive that has Africanized genetics you will understand why you use smoke and everything else is inferior.

    However I have been in my colonies without veil gloves and only lit smoker more than once. Its fun but I sure like a lit smoker ready when I need it.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Campbell River, BC, CA
    Posts
    558

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Why do I need an alternative?
    If you keep bees out in the bush, in an area where use of smokers is banned, that would be a perfectly good reason to find an alternative. Dont know about your part of the world, but, around here when the bees go out to logging patches for the fireweed flow, in most years smokers are banned due to the high forest fire hazard.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,284

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Really? How does that work? Does some Agency really regulate what beekeepers do out in the bush? This is something I have no knowledge or experience with.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    marshall indiana usa
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Honey B Healthy works good to keep bees calm. The bees love the smell of the essential oils and its also good for them. Use as instructed on bottle.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,149

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    You know if there Really Was an alternative that wasn't smoke - and didn't stink up your clothes -but worked just like smoke, That would be great. On those impulse inspections you weren't really planning - or you already have on your goin' to meetin' duds and have a few minutes to kill. I'd keep a can of that in the bee yard right along with my 4th best hive tool and ratty old veil. As far as I know it doesn't really exist though. Does it?
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    1,134

    Thumbs Up Re: An alternative to a smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by indypartridge View Post
    -snip- As David said, smoke works differently than spritzing them with sugar water -snip-- I always keep the lit smoker handy. There will come a time when your bees are hot, or you're in the hive longer than they like, or you drop a frame of bees and you'll want smoke.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jack London View Post
    You may not need an alternative, Michael Bush. But I was just asking out of mere curiosity -snip-
    Welcome to the forum John. We have all learned not to believe everything we see on youtube, or read in a book with narrow views

    The perceived hostility on this question may come from the (serious) questions that are asked on the forum over and over again. Don't take it personally.

    Personally, I will tell you that smoke is a good idea, even if it just sits there upwind of the hive you are working. It interferes with the alarm pheremones and I don't see where sugar water sprays can do that, so, in my view, smoke causes less stress to the colony.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,749

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    An alternative to smoke is angry, stressed bees that might not sting you if you are wearing a veil and gloves, but are prone to stinging others nearby.

    I'm much more prone to listen to someone comparing smoke to an alternative if they have experience using a smoker. If you haven't mastered the art of keeping a smoker lit and the art of using it appropriately, you will be well served to practice both. I don't really buy the excuse that anyone can't keep a smoker lit....it's a smoker, and anyone can learn to keep one lit.

    Finding a queen can be difficult, lifting a full box can be difficult, being nervous around bees isn't something you can always have control over....but if you can't see eggs, get some appropriate magnification/lighting so that you can. If you can't keep a smoker lit, practice when you aren't working with bees...and ask questions if you are having specific problems. Unless you have a phobia surrounding fire and smoke, saying you can't keep one lit means that you simply haven't spent the time...using that as a reason to not use a smoker is a copout.

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Franklin County, PA
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: An alternative to a smoker

    I have only used smoke but an advantage I can see is that the bees can get right back to working when the smoke dissipates and you can smoke in and around the hives without knocking bees to the ground with syrup. With the short flows here I like to disturb them as little as possible. I am sort of being redundant with what Lee said. Less strees to the colony. The smoke just subdues them and they get right back to business it seems.

    I made innercovers that I can feed through screens so that eliminates the need to smoke them much when switching feeders in an out. I plan to make more of them. They are very helpful with speed of changing feeders and disturb the bees less.

    I like that you are thinking outside the box. I can feed and work on hives at some points in the season with no smoke but at a certain point the bees remind me that I need to be smoking them so they don't over react.

    Good Luck!!!

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