Beekeepers use smoke to keep bees calm during hive inspections. When bees sense danger, they release an alarm pheromone called isopentyl acetate from a gland near their stingers. This chemical wafts through the air and alerts other bees to be ready to attack. Smoking a beehive masks this pheromone, allowing the beekeeper to safely perform a hive inspection.
What is a bee smoker?
A bee smoker is the device beekeepers use to puff smoke into their hives. This smoke doesn’t harm bees, it just interferes with their sense of smell so that they don’t react to alarm pheromones. Bee smokers are usually referred to as “smokers” for short.
A smoker consists of three main parts: the bellow, nozzle, and fire chamber. The bellow attached to the fire chamber allows you to restrict the flow of oxygen. This means you can keep your smoker lit for a long time and control the smoke. Just squeeze the bellow to get a puff of smoke from the nozzle.
What is the smoke beekeepers use?
- The smoke beekeepers use can come from a variety of fuels such as burlap, pine needles, wood pellets, twigs, or cardboard. The role of smoke is to calm bees, therefore you should never use synthetic materials or paper that’s been bleached as it can irritate the bees.
- Good smoker fuel burns slowly, lights quickly, and most importantly, produces smoke. Strong chemical smells can be harmful to bees. If you lite your smoker and get an acrid smell, find a new fuel.
- Many shops sell smoker fuel, but it’s easy to find for free at home.