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Using smoke

1875 Views 9 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  iddee
I'm a volunteer Hunter Education Intructor in my (very) spare time and last night got talking with one of my students who is also a beekeeper. As we were chatting, he mentioned that "it's about time to start using smoke again...". Apparently, he only uses smoke when he visits his bees starting in the fall. He claims that's the only time they're protective. He doesn't even use a veil. He did agree that, once in a while, a hot hive will change his mind. I wonder about this less intrusive approach. Does anyone out there have thoughts? Would it be prudent to take a smoker, but use it only if the cloud of bees took things personally?
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With Italian bees I don't use veil or suit after the summer flow starts, but do use smoke if I have to move boxes around. Also nitrile gloves.... Main reason is laziness and the heat.
I always use a veil when I'm using good judgement. A stray bee in the eye could put your eye out.

I don't always wear a suit, but I always either use a smoker, or am prepared to run fast with stinger pains when necessary.
I'm with Michael. Always a veil. My smoker's lit if I'm being invasive and I use it if necessary. And it's true that the girls are more protective in the fall. . .after the nectar flow's over.
This is only my second year, but last year, I started out a little fearful, full suite very time I checked the hives (which was weekly). Eventially, found the bees to be vey mellow and got down to short sleaves, shorts and no vail and no smoke. This year, started out with the minimal, but checking about once a month. Now I am back to full suite, but still no smoke which is about to change.

I think they were used to me the first year and are not used to me this year.
As my wife says, "Always take the smoker." Words to live by, even if you don't need it, have it handy just in case. I would also recommend that you at least wear a vail, it will save you some pain if things go south.
>>I think they were used to me the first year and are not used to me this year.<<

With one to two THOUSAND bees emerging daily, how can a hive possibly "get used to you"?
In one week between checks, ten thousand of them have never seen you.
I like using the smoker. I went out with the boss a few weeks back...we were checking the smaller hives in the yard...1, maybe 2 brood boxes...just to get an idea about the performance of the queens and whether or not they had been accepted. For the most part the hives were reasonably docile...but we got into one hive (which I found out afterwards was just a bad hive) and as soon as we popped that lid the bees were on us like lightning. Very very aggresive. First time in my life I've been stung three times as the same instant. A few weeks later we checked this same hive, this time using good amounts of smoke...and the hive was full of runners...they basically boiled over the sides of the box and out the entrance. Just a bad hive overall...and I am sure they would have been bad with or without smoke...but it just reinforced in me how much I like the smoker. I guess I'd go with what peggjam's wife says..."Always take the smoker" may not have to use it...but at least it is there if you need it.
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One good shot to my nose earlier this year was enough to cure me of the "we'll try it without a veil" experiment. Boy, that smarts!!! Not to mention, with my glasses I always have a fear of one of the girls getting caught in the space between the glasses and my eyes.

I've gone without a smoker more frequently this year - usually when I know I'm not going too far into the hive - but otherwise we do keep one lit up and ready to go, just in case the girls start getting cranky during the longer work sessions. We try to use as little as possible, though.

Suit and gloves? Gave 'em up last year and don't miss 'em - especally in this recent heat!


[ August 03, 2006, 10:44 AM: Message edited by: DCH ]
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Now onto the subject..
As many of you know, I get stung regularly for my arthritis. Even so, I use my smoker and carry my veil with me. It doesn't take but just a second to change from 2 or 3 stings to 200 stings.
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