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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Atlanta GA
    Posts
    250

    Default repercussions of using too much smoke?

    Hi All:
    I usually try to use a minimal amount of smoke when I look into my bees. The bees have been aggressive so I have used more smoke which seems to help. My husband (who helps me but is not a beek) is always wanting too smoke a lot. I know it is fine line but what are the potential drawbacks of using too much smoke.
    PS....I spelled repercussion wrong..but could not edit

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,086

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    I had nectar that turned into honey taste like smoke once when I used too much. True story.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,151

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Often using too much smoke will increase aggression, also rapid pumping of the smoker bellows can create a very hot smoke which damages the bees.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    903

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Not to mention that the more you smoke the more you set the bees back. If you check the hive often, and smoke heavily, You could cost yourself a super of valuable honey.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Nassau County, New York, USA
    Posts
    238

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    According to my experience, there are 2 types of hives. One that are sensitive to smoke and ones that are not. The ones sensitive to smoke are the ones you want to have. They are gentle and not aggressive. The ones not sensitive to smoke are the ones you don't want to have. Last year I had a hive that I started with a package that did not respond to any amount of smoke. So if you have to use a lot of smoke on a hive you should think of rqueening.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by WillH View Post
    According to my experience, there are 2 types of hives. One that are sensitive to smoke and ones that are not. The ones sensitive to smoke are the ones you want to have. They are gentle and not aggressive. The ones not sensitive to smoke are the ones you don't want to have. Last year I had a hive that I started with a package that did not respond to any amount of smoke. So if you have to use a lot of smoke on a hive you should think of rqueening.
    Agreed, I barely need to use smoke, a little bit when initially opening the hive & I usually hit em up with another puff when they're lined like soldiers up at the top bar of the frames motionlessly staring me down.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Surrey, BC, Canada
    Posts
    30

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    I don't really know about the AMMOUNT of smoke , but to me , the TYPE of smoke does seem to make a difference.

    I have been using cardboard , burlap , straw , wood pellets etc. , but this summer I harvested all the bobs from my Sumac tree , they burn cool and have a very nice aroma to them , it seems all my hives are a lot happier and gentler since I have been using it.

    Sumac will be my go to smoker fuel from now on.

    I wonder if any studies have been done on the different smoke types?

    Try it out , it may work for you too , yuo've got nothing to lose.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Sometimes more smoke makes them calmer and sometimes it makes them more angry.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,086

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    I heard the sumac will work better from another beekeeper. I haven't tried it yet........ but I will.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,127

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Excessive smoke drives the bees off the combs or makes them run...including queens. Makes it exceedingly difficult to find her. Also, when making up nucs, too much smoke drives the bees down into the hive, off the combs you're pulling.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Buderim, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    A little bit of smoke often is best. Beginners usually use their smoker as an exterminator. If the bees are agressive puff the smoke down betweeen the frames, not across the frames.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    331

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    I know a lot of people don't agree with this, but I don't use a smoker at all, just a great bee suit (Brushy Mtn.). Yes, it's hot, but it saves time, trouble, and I think stress on the bees.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    >it saves time, trouble, and I think stress on the bees.

    And I think it causes more stress on the bees to not use smoke. They recover from smoke in a matter of minutes. They recover from a defensive reaction to no smoke and a beekeeper upsetting them in about a week...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    646

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Bees seem to need a bit of time to react to smoke. When I pull a frame after smoke, many bees are still head down in uncapped honey. I give a hive several minutes after smoke to settle down, I can hear the roar subside.
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    331

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    They recover from smoke in a matter of minutes. They recover from a defensive reaction to no smoke and a beekeeper upsetting them in about a week...
    How do you know that? When I have used smoke, it appeared to agitate the bees (increased movement and buzz sound). When I don't use smoke, they just go about their business.

    Altho, I would say that a smoker helps get the bees off the edges when it's time to replace supers. I brush them off with ferns (which are growing right there) but by the time I pick up the super, the bees are back on the edge. I hate that.
    Last edited by NewbeeInNH; 08-25-2013 at 05:19 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    >How do you know that?

    Decades of observations on hundreds of hives with and without smoke. I don't use smoke when I'm looking for queens, and since I raise and sell queens that means I often don't use smoke. I know how a given hive reacts with and without it. I know how long after I smoke them that I have to smoke them again because it's wearing off. I know how long after getting really upset, they finally start acting normal again. In my backyard when queen rearing I'm in almost every hive almost every week and many nucs as well.

    > When I have used smoke, it appeared to agitate the bees (increased movement and buzz sound).

    A little more buzz is normal even when you pop an inner cover. A lot more agitation when smoking is a good indication that you're using too much smoke.

    >When I don't use smoke, they just go about their business.

    If you never upset them not using smoke then by all means continue. But I would not expect that to last. A strong hive in a dearth is not going to just go on about their business when you pop the top without any smoke.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
    Posts
    2,539

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    it appeared to agitate the bees (increased movement and buzz sound).
    When mine are agitated they are stinging me.
    Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    You're going to get an increased buzzing sound when you use any smoke, as they immediately try to fan it away. It doesn't mean they're mad. You know they're mad when they come after you.

    Beyond the things already mentioned, I find too much smoke means I'm breathing too much myself...

    I'm an advocate of the smoker. I think assuming that all those people for generations before you using it where just wasting time is a mistake. That said, I don't use much. I just light it, and have it there. I puff a little bit over the bees when first opening, and then sometimes use it to move bees to avoid crushing them - and I use it if they get mad.

    Effective use of the smoker is an important part of learning to be a beekeeper. Once you can light one and keep it lit for an hour or more and really know how to use it - then you actually know when you don't need it.

    Adam

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    331

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Decades of observations on hundreds of hives with and without smoke.
    Can't argue with that. My 90 y.o. father used to raise bees and said the most important beekeeping tool is a smoker.

    However, it seems non-intuitive that giving them a fire fright so that they rush to rescue their honey is less stressful for them than moving their frames around without smoke. BUT I'm new at this, so subject to change.

    ==

    AFC: "That said, I don't use much. I just light it, and have it there."

    Well, see. :lol:

    One thing about beekeepers of the past, is they may not have had the zip-tight beesuits we have today, so smokers may have been more about them not getting stung, than an asset to the bees? I haven't gotten stung once yet, even when they have been angry, like when the hive got knocked over one evening by what must have been a black bear and I stacked it right back up (suited up). If smoke is really something beneficial to the bees, I'd change my opinion. If it's just for stings, meh.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,492

    Default Re: repruccisions of using too much smoke?

    I think the whole "their house is burning so they fill up on honey" theory is just a myth. I've seen just as many bees with their heads in the cells with or without smoke.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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