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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just looking for others experience here..

I've taken to not using my smoker much any more, but just being careful (gentle) opening up the hive to feed, casual or deeper inspections, move top boxes and inspect bottoms or whatever...I'm always wearing at least my jacket and hood and usually gloves or 15mil nitrils.

So, sometimes they don't care, but when they do come off the hive in a gang, I just keep working or will pause for 30 seconds or so and not move too much and they'll settle back down and I just keep going through what ever it is I'm doing....I'm sure I've had hundreds if not thousands of bee's in the air on occasion, but they all end up where they belong on their own when I'm done. I'm beginning to think I'm just fortunate with not having had any really hot hives yet, or if not using smoke is generally less stressful on them if I can still get done what I need to.

I wonder if smoking them actually calms them down or really just simply confuses them by blocking the pheromones and it only seems that way.
 

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Smoke seems to piss my girls off... They buzz angrily when I smoke them, but maybe that's normal, but I kind of think like you.

My hive is a calm hive as well.
 

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There was a recent thread on this same topic...
http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?294379

I'm of the opinion that a little smoke on a hive is always a good thing. It's been done and widely accepted for THOUSANDS of years among beekeepers. But obviously, there's a small contingent out there that thinks they've figured out a better way. To them, I wish them a lot of luck, I get the impression from the more experienced Beeks that one day, they'll really need it. :D
 

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Typically, I don't smoke my hives when it is pleasant outside. Windy, overcast days tend to make the girls more miffed in which I will puff a little smoke. I believe the smoke sends them into survival mode and they are more intent on eating honey.
I did have one hive that was just downright nasty. No matter what I did they would not leave me alone. They perished this past winter. Can't say I am sad they are gone.
 

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Smoke seems to piss my girls off... They buzz angrily when I smoke them, but maybe that's normal, but I kind of think like you.

My hive is a calm hive as well.
I find that WHAT I use to make smoke is important. Some things burn/smolder too hot and are just not good in the smoker. Currently I am using the natural hemp twine from my hay bales. It smolders for a long time and the smoke IS cool. The smell isn't unpleasant either and the bees seem to like it. They settle very quickly for me. However at one time I used a wood chip that I bought at Home Depot. It had a funky smell and they positively HATED it. Another time I tried rags and got mobbed. So what you are using may be part of why your bees are reacting poorly to smoking.

Just a thought.

Rusty
 

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I always use a small amount of smoke. Some hives don't need it to remain calm, some it doesn't help and they will be defensive regardless. Small hives and nucs are much easier to work without smoke. Every now and then you get into a large hive at a bad time, and they will be extremely defensive. I always have a few of those. I'd rather not let things get out of hand, and a little smoke keeps the bees and the beekeeper calmer. Sometimes one very defensive hive seems to get the whole yard pissed off. That's not worth it when there is lots of work to get done in the yard. You can always just work that hive last, just before you leave.
 

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a few puffs around the outside of the lid and a puff in the entrance and one puff after I open the top and they are gentle as lambs.....if they are not busy (on a flow) or if the weather is bad and I do not use a little smoke it is very unpleasant.
 

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I've had hives i could work with not smoke before... on nice days, I've worked a few of those with no veil.

But it's wise to always have a smoker lit and at hand, regardless.

Accidentally crushing a bee when manipulating a hive will cause release of alarm pheromone, and some hives react rather energetically to that.
 

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Try anything you want, just be prepared for dramatic failures of experimentation! You just might be the person to figure out playing Justin Beiber songs will make even the hottest hive leave you alone. Then we can all replace our veils with earplugs.

Seriously though, experiment and find what work for you and your bees and when. Just realize things may not work and consider backup plans if things don't go well, especially if you are working with particularly mean girls or at times they might be overly grumpy.

Personally, I keep a lit smoker about 50% of the time and use less than 5% of the time, but I'm a small hobbyist mostly with top bars hives. Milage varies heavily.
 

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>Smoke seems to piss my girls off... They buzz angrily when I smoke them, but maybe that's normal, but I kind of think like you.

If you are making them angry with smoke, you are using too much.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm

If smoking them is making them angry, then you are smoking them too much or the smoke is too hot.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm

The most common smoking mistakes:

o People have the smoker too hot and burn the bees with the flame thrower they are wielding
o People use far too much smoke causing a general panic instead of simply interfering with the alarm pheromone. One puff in the door is enough. Another on the top if they look excited is ok and after that having it lit and setting nearby is usually sufficient.
o People don't light the smoker because they think smoke upsets the bees, probably because of one of the above reasons.
o People blow the smoke in and immediately open the hive. If you wait a minute the reaction will be completely different. If you’re doing something not too time consuming, like filling frame feeders or something, it’s a good plan to smoke the next hive before you open this one. That way the minute will be up when you open that one.
o People don’t smoke because they have the idea that it is either bad for the bees or somehow unnatural. Their exposure is only a puff or two once every week or two. People have been smoking bees for at least 8,000 years that we have documented for one very good reason. Nothing works better at calming them.
 

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>Smoke seems to piss my girls off... They buzz angrily when I smoke them, but maybe that's normal, but I kind of think like you.

If you are making them angry with smoke, you are using too much.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm

If smoking them is making them angry, then you are smoking them too much or the smoke is too hot.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm

The most common smoking mistakes:

o People have the smoker too hot and burn the bees with the flame thrower they are wielding
o People use far too much smoke causing a general panic instead of simply interfering with the alarm pheromone. One puff in the door is enough. Another on the top if they look excited is ok and after that having it lit and setting nearby is usually sufficient.
o People don't light the smoker because they think smoke upsets the bees, probably because of one of the above reasons.
o People blow the smoke in and immediately open the hive. If you wait a minute the reaction will be completely different. If you’re doing something not too time consuming, like filling frame feeders or something, it’s a good plan to smoke the next hive before you open this one. That way the minute will be up when you open that one.
o People don’t smoke because they have the idea that it is either bad for the bees or somehow unnatural. Their exposure is only a puff or two once every week or two. People have been smoking bees for at least 8,000 years that we have documented for one very good reason. Nothing works better at calming them.

I have read that many times... And I do believe maybe I'm too hot. I watch vids and they say "see it's cool" when letting someone else feel it. Mine is certainly not "cool" it is warm... I'd say just a tad over 100 (total guess). I used burlap I got from Kelley on my last inspection and it was basically the same. I have some pellets coming in from Mann Lake on Friday, so I'll see how that goes.

Even just the smoke slowly coming out the smoker as it hung on my hive got them in a buzz. As I got closer to the side it was hanging on I would hear them buzzing and was thinking wtf? Then I'd realize I was placing part of the frame right in front of the smoker. I should have moved it but it was at the end of the inspection.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
"People don’t smoke because they have the idea that it is either bad for the bees or somehow unnatural. Their exposure is only a puff or two once every week or two. People have been smoking bees for at least 8,000 years that we have documented for one very good reason. Nothing works better at calming them"

I thought they used smoke 8,000 years ago because they didn't have veils and the bee suits that we have today... ;) but many of the comments here are good. Hives are all different, time of year, weather, thunderstormy days, animals bugging them at night, and it all changes tomorrow. I always have my smoker, I just don't always use it...
 

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I agree. I actually did not smoke any of my 15 hives last year and got by just fine. I'm not saying that it doesn't help, it does. The girls eat a bunch of honey and they are so full they don't want to fly or sting. I just move slow and when they get mad I stop and wait or I close it up and leave. I also don't usually get into the brood chamber, so they don't get mad much. I go down to the top of the brood chamber to check for brood in the center of the hive, and when I see it I put it back and leave. They usually don't have much problem with it. Just how I'm doing things though. I also always work them when it's bright and calm winds.
 

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The girls eat a bunch of honey and they are so full they don't want to fly or sting.
Has anyone ever observed this behavior?

I hear this thing a lot but then I hear that it isn't true and just mask the pheromones.

Curious if this is just a carry over from an old presumption and just sees to make sense.
 

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>>The girls eat a bunch of honey and they are so full they don't want to fly or sting.
>Has anyone ever observed this behavior?

I have not and I don't believe it. I hate to question a Langstroth observation as he was so often correct, but I think it only masks the pheromones.

I have opened too many hives with and without smoke and found the same number of bees with their heads in the cells.
 

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Ran a "kwick start" pellet the other day and it was cool smoke... Bees still seemed to hate it.

When I put it in the entrance and gave it a slow puff they came out and got airborne real quick. Again I'm new to this, but that seems to be the opposite of what I was expecting.
 

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I have read that many times... And I do believe maybe I'm too hot. I watch vids and they say "see it's cool" when letting someone else feel it. Mine is certainly not "cool" it is warm... I'd say just a tad over 100 (total guess). I used burlap I got from Kelley on my last inspection and it was basically the same. I have some pellets coming in from Mann Lake on Friday, so I'll see how that goes.

Even just the smoke slowly coming out the smoker as it hung on my hive got them in a buzz. As I got closer to the side it was hanging on I would hear them buzzing and was thinking wtf? Then I'd realize I was placing part of the frame right in front of the smoker. I should have moved it but it was at the end of the inspection.

if the smoke seems to be a bit hot. put wet material (grass,cardboard etc.) on top of the fuel (inside the smoker) and close it up. it cools the smoke before it leaves the smoker :)
 

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Even if you choose not to do it most of the time I would keep it handy as there will be times when you need everything you got to keep them under control/manageable. That is an uncomfortable and possible dangerous lesson to learn when you are struggling and the smoker is miles away.

Of note: I find smoking my hands after being stung keeps me from getting it again in the hand by masking the scent.
 
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