DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Hart County, Georgia
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    76

    Default DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    I see the smoker conversations ranging from the "apisolis smoker gadget" to "how the heck do I keep a smoker lit?"

    Every time the talk turns to smokers I listen sympathetically and then tell what has saved me from eating a lot of smoke.

    When I started using Top Bar hives I was looking for a better way of getting the little fuzzy bugs back in the hive so I could put the bars together. I came across someone (I think it was Phil Chandler) using a spray bottle filled with water and a scent. I tried it and it worked great for me. I now use a spray bottle with 2 or 3 drops of spearmint essential oil in it. I spring for the $5 gray bottles that are meant for chemicals just because I like the grip.

    IMG_2522.jpg
    IMG_2523.jpg

    It works so well that I now use it on my Lang hives. I use it the same as a smoker. I pump a couple sprays when I pop the cover (I have screened inner covers) and then wait a few seconds. After that I spritz the bees when I want to calm them or move them. It's also nice to spritz yourself through the veil on those hot bee yard days.

    It also saves a lot of time and energy getting smoker fuel, lighting the smoker, keeping the smoker lit, keeping the smoke out of your face, making sure you don't burn something, putting the smoker out, and keeping it clean.
    You can use any scent you like EXCEPT BANANA OR LEMON.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Amazed no one has replied to your post.

    I might have to try this.

    I get banana (too much like bee sting) Why not lemon?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Hart County, Georgia
    Posts
    76

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    I posted this a while ago and originally there were replys but now they seem to have disappeared.
    The replies seemed to go off on a tangent about how to light a smoker so maybe they got moved.

    Anyway, lemon is close to the scent put out by a bee's nasonov gland. They put it out when they're trying to let other bees know where the new home is when they swarm or when the hive is disturbed. Usually, it's telling the other bees where the queen is. You can tell that they're sending out the scent if you see bees fanning their wings (usually at the entrance) while sticking their butts in the air. The tip of the butt will have a slight dip to it.
    That's why swarm traps and bait hives are baited with things like lemongrass oil, it's an attractant.

    I choose spearmint because I like the smell of it. Someone else told me that anise oil works well. It smells like licorice.
    My theory is that water with a scent works like smoke because it masks any alarm pheromone scent that may be put out. Since bees are all about how things smell, it may just give them a new smell in the hive to think about for a while.

    If nothing else, you can try it when you're not doing a full inspection and see how the bees react and if you like using it.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,490

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    I remember this post, it did go off topic mondo. Just for the record I did try the spearmint spritz and had mixed results. Some of the hives seemed to be more annoyed by it than giving them a whiff of smoke
    Rod

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
    Posts
    1,450

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    I tried spraying peppermint scented water a few times - usually for the odd 'in-and-out in a few seconds'-type of occasions, and yes - it does sorta work. But for general purpose use nothing (imo) beats smoke. The reason spray has limitations is because it's a 'line-of-sight' method, whereas smoke will expand and spread, even around corners.

    So - should I want to dissuade bees from collecting around a Crown Board feed hole prior to placing a VOA applicator on top, for example, then I want to make contact with the bees 'around the corner' from the feed hole, several inches away. Smoke will do that, I very much doubt that spray would. I'm sure that spray has it's uses, but perhaps not as a 100% replacement for smoke.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    5,584

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    One of the most alluring aspects of beekeeping for me is that there always seems to be a dozen different ways to achieve sucessful end results. In so many areas there is no single "right" or "wrong" way to do things or manage the bees. Different methods can be experimented with and tailored to meet the the beekeepers preferences.

    I'll stick with my smoker, but I find alternate practices like this very interesting to read about.
    To everything there is a season....

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    193

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    I'll stick with my smoker, but I find alternate practices like this very interesting to read about.
    Yep, same here.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
    Posts
    609

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    i dont use a smoker most of the year because living in the hills of california im afraid of fire. i dont want to hear about the beekeeper fire for years to come. id rather just get stung. if it gets too crazy i have gloves. i like spraying water and its a good tool but for the life of me i cant get a small hand sprayer that lasts.
    when given star thistle make honey

  10. #9

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Might give it a try.

    Lemongrass oil is chemically quite similar to the Nasonov pheromone, and seems to have a similar effect on bees. (It is the smell of home, kind of like cinnamon rolls and bacon all rolled in to one.) I have used it in swarm traps and in feeders to get the bees interested. I have tried lemon, and it doesn't have the same effect, or so it seems to me. The bees pretty much ignore it.

    Has anyone else used lemon oil or lemon scent? How does it work for you?

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Hart County, Georgia
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    76

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    i like spraying water and its a good tool but for the life of me i cant get a small hand sprayer that lasts
    The best spray bottle I've found is a gray Spraymaster. I got it at either Home Depot or Lowes. I like the grip and I have yet to have it fail. It costs a little more than the basic sprayer but it's nice to know that it'll work when you really need it.
    IMG_2522.jpg

    I wanted to mention one more advantage of the spray bottle/scent that works for me. If I end up with a couple of pesky bees that just keep on me, I hit them with the spray a few times and they seem to get the hit that they should bug off or get smashed. That's tough to do with a smoker without eating a bunch of smoke.

    As with everything in beekeeping(and life), find what works for you and let everyone else do what works for them.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,768

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    I've tried everything anyone has suggested in place of smoke. Water, light syrup, water with smell, light syrup with smell, liquid smoke in water, Fabi spray. None of them is 1/10 as effective as smoke. Just having a smoker lit next to the hive your working makes a HUGE difference.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    199

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Smoke has always been effective for me until the bees get exceptionally nasty. To me that is 100's of bees stinging and impeding your vision.
    This particular hive has been fairly manageable until the other day. I will go back and see if they are more cooperative in a couple of weeks.

    I have used very light syrup with a scent (vanilla, almond, spearmint or whatever I have available) in a spray bottle with better results. The smoke just seems to infuriate them more.

    At times I wish I had a mini flame thrower to clear the air. Just a wish. Common sense prevails.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    53,768

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    I have seen bees that a lot of smoke upsets them. Usually, though, a tiny amount is more effective on any bees and especially on bees that are getting more angry the more you smoke them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  15. #14

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    I use both, I smoke initially before opening the hive and to get them off the frame tops to clean burr comb or right before placing a box on top, and spary just to get them to relax while i'm working the frames, a mist of light syrup with lemongrass oil stops them from being fidgety for a few minutes

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    7,793

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Smoking hives has been the standard for at least eight thousand years. Glad to see that you have evolved or something. Smoking bees is a harmless part of rational beekeeping.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    El Dorado County, CA
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    609

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    Smoking bees is a harmless part of rational beekeeping.
    "rational beekeeping" theres an oxymoron for ya.
    when given star thistle make honey

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    4,745

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    "Practical" might be another word to use as would "philosophical or ideologically" driven. Some things are very difficult to weigh precisely in a cost/benefit analysis.

    I would bet Vance has seldom been accused of being whimsical
    Frank

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Practical means it works as intended with no known harm to the bees unless you are an ox headed moron over doing it. Feel free to pass rutabaga gas on your colony if it works for you. But it is just silly.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    1,446

    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    Feel free to pass rutabaga gas on your colony if it works for you. But it is just silly.
    LOL, I would not buy that honey for a dollar.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
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    Default Re: DON'T Smoke 'um if you got 'um OR How I Ditched My Smoker

    Quote Originally Posted by stangardener View Post
    "rational beekeeping" theres an oxymoron for ya.
    I guess we all use our own chosen words to describe specific meanings - and so I looked up what other meanings may be associated with the adjective 'rational'.

    "based on or in accordance with reason or logic."

    synonyms: logical, reasoned, well reasoned, sensible, reasonable, cogent, coherent, intelligent, wise, judicious, sagacious, astute, shrewd, perceptive, enlightened, clear-eyed, clear-sighted, commonsensical, common-sense, well advised, well grounded, sound, sober, prudent, circumspect, politic, down-to-earth, practical, pragmatic, matter-of-fact, hard-headed, unidealistic, joined-up

    Sounds about right to me. Must say I can't see that any oxymoron is being created when choosing the word 'rational' to describe beekeeping ... especially in the sense that Dzierzon did:
    The tendency of the work has remained unaltered in the New Edition, and is chiefly practical. The theoretical part has therefore been treated but very briefly, and with special regard to practical Bee-culture, the Author's aim being to show how to keep Bees rationally and profitably, and at the same time to enable Bee-keepers to satisfy themselves and others as to the reason for the different operations in their apiaries; for he only is entitled to be called a rational Bee-keeper who clearly comprehends why a thing is done in a certain way, and not in any other, and who is able to give the reason for everything he does.

    From the Preface to: DZIERZON'S RATIONAL BEE-KEEPING; or The Theory and Practice of Dr. Dzierzon of Carlsmarkt. (1882)
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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