How to use the smoker and why?

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How to use the smoker and why?

The correct use of a smoker is one of the techniques that a beekeeper must master to ensure his safety and that of the bees. Beginners in the field of beekeeping will find some useful concepts here for mastering the harvest.
smoker
A smoker


When should you use the smoker?

Opening a beehive without a beekeeping suit is not a good idea. In addition to endangering yourself, you could endanger the entire colony and your honey production.
In fact, it's not uncommon for a bee to die after stinging you. Smoking is a process intended to calm the bees to make it easier to harvest honey.

The smoke produced will mask the pheromones emitted by the workers who feel in danger and prevent the bees from becoming aggressive when you come to take their honey.
This harvest is done several times during a year when the capping phase is over, ideally in the evening when everything is calm. But it will depend on the type of honey you want to have.

How to use the smoker

Generally, the device consists of a boiler where the fuel is placed but the models may be different. You inject air into it using a bellows or a pipe. Clear smoke will escape from a conical chimney which will be directed towards the work area. Once the smoker is lit and the smoke is heavy enough, start by smoking the flight hole. Gently open the beehive and smoke again to permanently repel the bees in the heart of the hive.

These two smokes should normally be enough to allow you to collect your honey in peace. Avoid injecting too much air into the smoker. Hot smoke can have the opposite effect by making the bees more aggressive and above all risks damaging the contents of the hive, especially the wax and honey. Throughout the operation, adopt a calm and relaxed attitude in handling the beehive frames. Avoid sudden movements that could give bees a reason to become aggressive and wear a full suit.

Precautions to take

Over time, this smoke can be harmful to the beekeeper. Many professionals using this technique have developed bronchitis or other respiratory conditions. A good choice of fuels is therefore essential. Beekeeping stores offer efficient smoker fuels. However, you can also use what nature has to offer. For lighting, you can use pine thorns or paper.

Otherwise, as fuel, lavender stalks, bark or alfalfa pellets can do the trick. Avoid the use of newspapers, cardboard boxes and magazines, as well as inks and glues toxic to humans and bees. The use of the smoker causes the formation of tar in the boiler. Regularly, you will need to de-clog your appliance using a gas burner. Under the effect of heat, the tar will burn off. All you have to do then is scrape the ashes.
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