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Four hives, two 10-frame & two 8-frame boxes. Two screened bottoms, two solid - all doing well!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Earlier this week, I had a robbing frenzy. Had to make more robbing screens, especially for the smaller splits.

Today, I had to move some boxes around in prep of giving a hive to a friend who wants to start beekeeping. It's overcast, with some light drizzle, and everything was nice and calm.

When I lit the smoker in my shop, within a minute or two, I noticed a number of bees in the shop, flying around the smoker. As I watched, more and more bees were flying around.

Could it be that the bees recognize that where there is smoke, there will be an open box to rob? Curious, I left the smoker in there and did the bee work without it. No robbers, no craziness, everything calm and picture-perfect. In the meantime, the shop had a bunch of bees in there searching. Out of curiosity, I moved the smoker over to the back deck, and sure enough, the bees followed, looking for their meal.

So it appears that these high-IQ bees are associating smoke with a free meal. Stupid smart bees!

Has anyone else observed this behavior? Seems that it might be a common thing.
 

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Four hives, two 10-frame & two 8-frame boxes. Two screened bottoms, two solid - all doing well!
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519 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
No, just pine needles and twigs in the smoker, but I just had a conversation that was pretty informative.

He asked, "Did you recently pull supers?"
Yes, a couple.

"Did you use your fume board, or did you try to smoke the bees off the frames?"
I just shook/smoked them off, since I only pulled 2 supers.

"Lots of smoke?"
Oh yeah, they were really persistent.

"I bet they were. Well, there is your problem. Bees have an extremely keen sense of smell. When you take supers, shake bees and smoke heavily, it really disturbs the hive. They make a distress smell and have to fan heavily to clear the smoke from the hive, which broadcasts that smell all over. The robbers smell the distress and zero in. Your robbers may associate the two smells together, or your bees are starting to feel alarmed anytime they smell smoke because of your treatment of them."

"Tony, you only need to smoke a little, just a few puffs here and there. And use a fume board when you pull supers. You have Bee Quick?"
Yes.

"Well, use it next time, but for now leave them alone for a couple of weeks. Let things settle down and the problem should go away. It's cooled off, we've gotten some rain, and my bees are bringing in pollen again, so hopefully we will have a good summer."

"And remember... there is a reason we do things a certain way."

I feel a bit chastised, but I appreciate the clear explanation. I normally don't smoke much, but I got smoker-happy the other day. I had some big clouds going. Was kind of fun at the time.

I still have much to learn, but I thought I would share my mistakes with others. Maybe it will help someone else.
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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Interesting observation.
I am the same way when I smell Mesquite smoke and ribs I salivate.

If food and smoke are together then either means food.

GG
 
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