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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have had hives now for about a month and have yet to smoke them when inspecting. Are there pros or cons to smoking or not smoking?
 

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you'll get your chance to use smoke, probably sometime after the flow ends and into the fall. :)
 

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I suggest lighting your smoker even if you aren't intending to use the smoker that day. When the time comes that you need to use the smoker, it will be a much more pleasant experience if you already have your smoker lighting technique figured out. :)


Also, having the smoker lit and nearby upwind may have an effect without you actually having to hold it.
 

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Small hives in new apiaries are often very docile. As they get bigger and stronger that often changes - learn to use your smoker before you need it. Also properly used smoke results in LESS stress to the bees, because it prevents them from going into general alarm.
 

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After about a months your hives will really start to build up
Lots more bees, lots more brood, lots more stores
Even in a flow they'll have a lot more to be invested in
I do what sidetrack does just have it ready
You want to be prepared you open them even if you don't use it
 

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New hives with no stores are generally quite docile, and I started out not even using a veil all the time.

Then one day in early September I opened up the hive barehanded to check on the honey super and got stung three times in the fingers before I could get the inner cover off, and three times in the ears before I managed to get the covers back on.

Use the smoke, it only takes a couple minutes and really does keep them calm. It appears to prevent them from smelling the alarm pheromones and that keeps them from mass attacking you! It is disruptive to normal hive commumications, but then so is taking the hive apart.

Veil and smoker, every time you open a hive, will keep you from some nasty experiences. Cheap insurance, even if you don't actually use the smoker.

The only exception would be hiving a package. I have not used smoke then, usually it's cool here when packages arrive, and often drizzly and the bees don't fly much at all. They only want to be in a nice warm hive all clustered up, so there is no need for smoke.

Peter
 

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Last year, my first, I always smoked the hive. Then I learned I was smoking them too much, so I spent some time trying to determine just how much smoke would be needed. I always had the smoker with me, but found that I really did not need to use it much. Then came August, and I was very glad that I was in the habit of bringing a lit smoker to the hives. The docile little hive that had been calmly gathering pollen and nectar over hill and dale turned into a well-populated hive bent on keeping its stores going into winter. I even had to wear a veil when mowing. The same was true this Spring, before everything started blooming.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So, I have recently been stung twice for the first time. I hope this means they are getting busy. I am expecting our summer flow to start anytime.

To that point, or maybe I should start a new thread, is the abundance of pollen on my car windshield evidence of the beginning of a flow? We have a ton of pollen in the air right now
 

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I suggest lighting your smoker even if you aren't intending to use the smoker that day. When the time comes that you need to use the smoker, it will be a much more pleasant experience if you already have your smoker lighting technique figured out. :)


Also, having the smoker lit and nearby upwind may have an effect without you actually having to hold it.
This ^ trust me . Thought I as going to be able to keep by also with out it . But there's times you need it. May not need all the time but its nice to have it going when ya need it .
 

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You will eventually keep a smoker on hand, after the bees have taught you.

Re the pollen on your windscreen, this in itself does not indicate a nectar flow. It indicates that wind pollinated plants are releasing pollen. Whatever seems to be happening outside the hive, take a look inside the hive. If they are building new comb and storing nectar, you are having a honey flow.
 

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Typical mistakes made when smoking:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm

The only "con" to smoking appropriately is the queen may run and if you are looking for a queen, this is a problem. You can light the smoker and smoke the air around the hive, though, and the queen usually doesn't run.
 

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I don't typically use the smoker at the beginning of my bee work, but I try to have it lit and upwind from the start. I find it most useful when I'm reassembling the boxes to push the bees down a bit so I squash fewer of them.

And if you judge wrong and they get a little testy you can step away to the smoker and puff your self, and your hands and hive tool, and then resume with less general panic.

I am also trying a light spritz of water with a scootch of Honey B healthy in it. I used diluted sugar syrup (very diluted) last summer but found it left a slightly sticky residue on the woodenware which attracted ants and yellowjackets. (And I have read that during very hot weather it can dry too quickly and the bees perish if it sticks their wings togthether.) The sugar mist worked; the water plus HBH works; so when the last few ounces of that are gone, I'm going to try plain water, which when used in warm weather should be the most benign of all. If only I could train them to head down into the safety of the combs below whenever Igor-ette is lumbering up with a heavy full deep in her mitts, then nothing would be needed.

But I'd still light my smoker, just in case some of the guard bees didn't read their manual on humankeeping. I use smoker lighting as stop-and-review-what-the-plan-is checkpoint, too.

Enj
 

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Peppermint oil in water (no sugar) is, for whatever reason, all that I have ever used. This works for me so-far and, so long as it does, "that's that" for me. Your Mileage May Vary.™

As far as other protection is concerned, I always wear a veil (and an old straw hat), and I wear long-sleeved leather beekeeping gloves. There are two places that I do not want to get stung, and those two places are: my head/face, and my hands. The gloves are lightweight and don't impede my touch. But, unlike rubber or plastic gloves, they breathe. They're washable and keep my hands clean.

White dickey-suit coveralls with plenty of pockets completes my outfit. Hiking boots provide great footing.
 

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Recently I put a table in the middle of the apiary - it was more out of a coincidence. After a couple of days I realized how useful can be. Now I have all the tools I use inside a nuc box on that table, including the smoker and some dried grass. When the bees become aggressive I retreat calmly and light the smoker. Most of the times I don't need it but this is due more probably because of the race of bees I have (Carpathians).
I also don't use any protection except for the veil. I'd rather take a few stings then the heat.
 

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I tried most everything because it would be very convenient if water with essential oils, or light syrup with essential oils, or just water, or just light syrup, or liquid smoke would work as well as smoke. I wouldn't have to get fuel, bother with lighting the smoker, bother with keeping it lit. But none of those worked like smoke. I don't use any of them now, just smoke or nothing depending on the circumstances and the goals...

I think some of the confusion is that people confuse bees in the air with angry bees. Just because they are in the air does not mean they are angry. Just because they are not in the air does not mean they are not angry. Bees fly because they are confused. They also may fly because they are angry. Getting them wet keeps them from flying. It doesn't keep them from getting angry...
 

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I started without smoke and thought "isn't this good" and "aren't I good".
Then I tried to deal with the bees when some robbing was happening, and another time when they were hungry, and another time when I broke a comb.
When things are good, things are good. When they're not... well smoke helps.
I now light the smoker and smoke myself prior to starting and leave in burning nearby. They pay much less attention to me. As I use kTBH I do need for the bees to get their heads down occasionally and will use a water mister with peppermint oil in it for that.
 

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I am way new to this but can add that I really didn't need to use it when I first set mine up earlier this year but as time, and the hives, have progressed it makes life much easier. I can also add that I can set my smoker in all four corners of my "beespot" (as my kids have so named it) and the smoke will come straight to my head filling my vail. Pretty amazing actually, lol.
 

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Are there pros or cons to smoking or not smoking?
Why, yes, just as certainly as every hive is different.;)
It is possible to harvest honey without smoke, & without stirring up a "hornets nest".
You will likely find that you have hives that will allow you to inspect and/or harvest with little objection (& no smoke), and some that will object angrily to the mere sight of your approach, in a bee suit, with a smoker in hand.
You may think you come to "know" those hives - hot and cool, but you will likely never be 100% certain.
 

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Small hives in new apiaries are often very docile. As they get bigger and stronger that often changes - learn to use your smoker before you need it. Also properly used smoke results in LESS stress to the bees, because it prevents them from going into general alarm.
My small hives in my new apiary definitely fit this pattern. They're total sweethearts and I don't need smoke to work them, at least not when opening the hives. Where we find smoke handy is in putting things back together. A puff of smoke gets them out of the way when putting frames back in or stacking supers. We're still new enough to hate squashing bees. My wife and I work together so we have a free hand to do this.
 

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To that point, or maybe I should start a new thread, is the abundance of pollen on my car windshield evidence of the beginning of a flow? We have a ton of pollen in the air right now
Trust me, Honey. That ain't pollen, that's frass. Comes out of a bees _ ss.
 
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