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Thread: Bees are angry

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Amherst Virginia USA
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    146

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I read somewhere that bees will be more aggressive when they have honey stores and think someone/thing is trying to take them? Seems like all I have to do is open a box on my big hive and one hits me up (but I kinda like it!) and any other time I sit there within 2 feet of the hive and they walk on me but never sting.
    I love my honey bees!

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Bees are angry

    We have had a crummy year weatherwise this year, so the bees have been irritable since spring, but after I harvested honey the first time off the hives, they got even meaner. I have never had to put on a suit with my bees before over many years, but since I harvested a while back, I don't dare open a hive without one on, they're like killer bees, every last hive is pretty much like that.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    10,151

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    The self igniting propane torch is the easiest way to light a smoker for sure. [/url]
    Agreed, when I am impatient and want to light the cardboard quickly I use the torch. Usually I am cutting the cardboard at 1/2 the height of the smoker because I know I am only going to be 15 minutes or less. I use my hand to hold the roll because I have experience but it would be better to have cotton string/thread securing the roll so you can drop the burning roll into the smoker. We very seldom have a fire danger and when we do it is probably a joke compared to out west.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  4. #24
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,742

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    >I read somewhere that bees will be more aggressive when they have honey stores and think someone/thing is trying to take them?

    Not exactly. When there is a dearth all the other hives are testing the guards and they get testy because of that. They aren't at all defensive with 200 pounds of honey on the hive and the flow is still going... so I wouldn't say that at all.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Amherst Virginia USA
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    146

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I guess that's the bad in reading everything I can on bees and beekeeping...you get some bad info with the good.
    I love my honey bees!

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,388

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I second the propane torch and red cedar shavings/pet litter. It has a secondary effect of supposedly making it hard on Varroa. I also add a chunk of slumgum wax to the mix.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Pine cones make great smoker material. Start with dry pine needles in the bottom and a pine cone on top of that. The needles burn quick but the pine cone will burn slower once it gets started. Works really well if there's a little humidty in the air (but too much humidity makes them hard to light).

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    660

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
    I second the propane torch and red cedar shavings/pet litter. It has a secondary effect of supposedly making it hard on Varroa. I also add a chunk of slumgum wax to the mix.
    How do you keep the propane torch from going out when inverted?
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,490

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Hold the smoker at 45 degrees to light, You just need a little fuel in the bottom of the smoker. Once I have the whole top of the fuel in the smoker lit, I puff it for 30 seconds and add fuel on top to smolder.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Falls pa. usa
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    79

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwEnri6lNNI

    I could never do well with my smoker, googled it and found the fat bee man with the rolled up cardboard method, I use this now and have no more issues. I throw some paper towel on the bottom and some suemac boughs on top, Its still smoking long after I'm done.

    this guy put a ton of saw dust/shavings.....looks awesome http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzVsES2H2Zs
    Last edited by falls pa; 08-02-2013 at 12:37 PM. Reason: add content

  11. #31
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    Mar 2011
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    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I have found the trick to getting it to light is to put a small amount of what you intend to burn on the bottom, light it, and let it get really hot - then put a large amount in on top in a big loose pile. Your smoker has to be good and hot though or it will just smother it. That's why I toss in a chunk of wax in the middle.

    I used to use pinecones and needles. They work too, but the needles from our pines tend to gum up the smoker. You can make some serious smoke with pine needles.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
    They work too, but the needles from our pines tend to gum up the smoker.
    It is hard not to gum up a smoker no matter what you use for fuel because smoke is incomplete combustion.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Concord, NC
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I'm pretty new to the bee keeping stuff, but something I have found to help my 2 hot hives. That is thinned out sugar water. Add a little Honey B Healthy to sugar water and mist them once the hive is open. If I use smoke they get all ticked off, mist them and they calm them right down.
    Tom
    Tater Road Apiary

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    3,178

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Fire must have three things. Heat, Fuel and air. I don't know of anyone that fails to add the fuel to a smoker. A properly operating smoker that has been started correctly provides it's own air. using the bellows only gives a momentary burst of air. The only thing left is the heat. One out of three things is left to the Human and they still can't get it right. Just concentrate on making a heat source. a strong very hot glowing bed and you get the entire smoker hot heat source. Let an open flame burn a hand full of dry twigs for a while. let that burn down to a bed of red hot coals. then do it again. then you can think about adding some fuel smothering the open flame but keeping that bed of cot coals smoldering.

    Once properly lit a smoker does not go out. My personal best so far it setting on top of a hive for over 2 hours. and it was still ready to go with a single squeeze of the bellows.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  15. #35
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,624

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Daniel is right. Time spent in the morning building a really hot fire (sub-base we redundantly call it ) is the best time you will spend all day long and it takes some sort of dense wood product to achieve that, not grass, paper or straw. If your smoker still goes out then you may have a bellows or tube problem (the little gizmo directing the air into the bottom of the firebox). In short, the basics to smoker success are to clean all the debris out each morning, build a hot fire, use good fuel and don't pack it too tightly. We use almost exclusively wood pellets, if restocked in mid afternoon the smoker is often still going the next morning.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    We use almost exclusively wood pellets, if restocked in mid afternoon the smoker is often still going the next morning.
    What! I need your smoker recipe. I just bought some wood pellets but haven't used them yet.

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
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    710

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    Jim and Daniel,

    You guys are awesome. The difference here is that someone has 2-4 hives or some such number, and they'll spend, say, 20 minutes to 40 minutes inspecting those hives. They don't then want to spend 20 minutes working on lighting a smoker before spending 20 minutes inspecting their hives....you get it.

    Anyway, I totally agree on the wood pellets, once lit they just smolder forever until they're ash. If you plug the smoker with a cork or some grass, the pellets will go out and they'll be there and even easier to light next time. Lighting pellets though is what turns people off to them I think. To light pellets and not spend more time lighting than you will in your few hives, you need that propane torch. It makes a good item for the Christmas list if you think buying it yourself will feel too much like a splurge.
    License not replace eyes, ears, and brain.
    - Mr. Miyagi

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,571

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I use burlap and my brother uses pine needles and cones plus some leaves, either works well and we only have one hive each, so 15 minutes smoke time is all we need.

    I roll up the burlap and make sure it's burning well (I blow on it) before I drop in in the smoker, and once it's going well it will last a couple hours generally. I hardly use it, though.

    On most inspections, a slow puff into the entrance and once under the lid is all I need -- puff, wait a bit, open up, no problems. Even today, which is a cloudy "threatening to rain" day that is typically when they get grumpy, I only had one fly up toward my face, and even when I was pulling the frames out of the brood nest they were quite nice.

    On the days when I had robbers threatening them, though, I decided not to inspect, partially because I didn't want to encourage the robbing and partially because I'm not fond of getting stung.

    There is a great deal of prejudice against using smoke in the beginning beekeeper's community, I suppose because it's not "organic" or "intervention free" or some such non-sense. Smoke doesn't disrupt the hive any more than moving all the boxes around, and it quite definitely reduces their agitation considerably. I also think people think that smoke is a problem after they fry some bees with super hot smoke from a blazing smoker rather than a slow puff of cool smoke, or smoke the hive until it looks like it's on fire. A single slow puff into the entrance should cause a "roar" as the bees fan like crazy, and this is the sign you have enough. That's all it takes to interrupt the odor mediated operations in the hive for a bit, allowing you to do what you need to and get out. A huge cloud of hot smoke and they get really agitated as they presume the hive is in a fire, and may even start to abscond.

    Queenless bees are a different story, so are bees being robbed or greatly irritated by other pests. They do get much more defensive in those conditions. When one of my hives was queenless, they would pour over the top edges of the box any time the hive was open, it was a real pain to get the boxes back on. Once a new queen was laying and there was brood in the hive, they returned to normal.

    Peter

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    McNairy, TN USA
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    42

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I would recommend getting those old stingers out at least. If it's dirty/smelly it won't hurt to wash it. But let it air dry if the hood/veil is 1 piece.
    I use smoke and find the aim-a-flame type lighters work great for starting my smoker. Agreed, a hot base is essential to keeping a smoker lit regardless of fuel.

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD USA
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Bees are angry

    I use shredded paper (I have an old paper shredder and keep junk mail just for this purpose). It lights much more easily than cotton and seems to stay lit for me. I can never keep the standard smoking fuel stuff lit, but the paper works great.

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