Smoke Use

[music] In this video I want
to talk about using a bee smoker. We’ll explain the
parts of the smoker, how to operate it, and
a bit about the safety, and how it
actually works to keep bees calm
and easy to work with. So the smoker is made
up of two main parts. The bellows, this
part here, when we squeeze that
it forces air through into the can. We get a fire going
inside the can and then when
we puff that the air moves up and
through and out this funnel part here. So inside the smoker we have a grate
at the bottom and you can see the
inside of the funnel there as well. So what we’ll do is
we’ll get started and light that up. My preference is to
use wood shavings. They’re sold at agricultural supply locations as animal bedding. So we start the
fire with newspaper just like starting
a camp fire and then we add in
the wood shavings. Other people use
dried cow manure, sumac bobs, quite a
variety of materials, but I would
caution that you don’t want to be using
any man made materials that may have
chemicals in them because you do
end up breathing quite a bit of smoke. So we’ll get this started to get a sheet
of newspaper like that crumple it
up into a loose ball and then we have
a lighter attached to a string here so
we don’t lose track of that, but I’ll light
that right inside the pail so that
it’s out of the wind fire moves up so we
start at the bottom and then once it’s
going we transfer it into the smoker and
as you transfer it in you puff away
at the smoker. We get flames
coming out you can hear it go woof
woof woof so you know it’s
going well. There’s that
woof woof woof. And we pump away at
the smoker. We’ve got flames, we’ve
got a bit of smoke. Big handfuls of
shavings going in there. And ideally you stand a
bit up wind from this. So we just keep adding
the shavings in there and then what we do
is take another sheet of newspaper crumple
it up into a ball and add it on top. So that consolidates
all the fuel within there, so that when we tip
the smoker over, the fuel all stays in place. I’ll just close that lid
up there, so you can see now we can
tip it like this and the shavings
aren’t blowing out because of that little
newspaper plug we put on the top. When we are lighting
a smoker we make sure we
don’t leave it sitting on top of where the
debris will be falling because as you puff
the smoker the air will pick up that debris and blow it into this
tube and clog it. So we hold it up in
the air while we are lighting it, and you
just keep puffing away for a few minutes until
it is going nicely there and you can see that
smoke is nice and white and if I blow it on my
arm it’s quite cool. If it gets blue or you
have any sparks or certainly flames
coming out of there then that means it’s
time to add more fuel. Using it in about
fifteen minutes or so we’ll need to
add more fuel and to do that we
just open it up, take out the plug
and add more fuel as need be. So it’s good to
practice doing this so you make sure
you’re confident in getting a smoker going
and keeping it going. When you’re done
using it in the bee yard it is a bit of a safety
issue, you’ve got a fire going in here, and
so you can either take the fuel out, dump
it on the ground and stomp it out,
you have to be very careful if you’re
going to be doing that or you can grab
up some grass bend it in two, give
it a bit of a twist and then screw that
in there and that will plug up the smoker and
so it won’t continue to burn. When you’re
transporting it it needs to be
transported in a way that it’s not going to
fall over and open up or it could start a
vehicle on fire, so we do have to be
pretty careful with these when we’re
transporting them, but that is basically
how you get it going. Now to use the smoker we puff the smoke at the
entrance to the colony so we’ll just puff smoke
at the entrance there and that gets the
guard bees to go in and they eat honey. So while they are eating
honey they are not defending the hive. The smoke works in three
different ways, that’s one. It is also a bit of a
repellent so the bees move away from
the smoke it makes it easier to put
your hands where you want within the hive. The other thing that the
smoke does is it it interrupts their
communication, their scent communication. If one bee becomes
agitated it produces alarm pheromone and that basically
tells all the other bees to respond aggressively. When we puff smoke
inside the hive we can short circuit that
communication, all they smell is smoke and
they can’t communicate in that manner, but the bees
that go in and eat honey, they are busy gorging
and filling up on honey and so that gives them
something else to do so they are not
defending the hive. That’s about it
for the smoker. Just a word of caution:
Make sure that you take good care because
you do create fires and that’s it for now.


  1. I really appreciate you folks producing these videos. I am an old man with very poor hearing. I can understand every word you folks are saying. Excellent sound quality!! The material presented is "pure gold." I also appreciate the fine detail and the way it is presented in a clear and logical way.

    Thanx, LP

  2. Thanks for the educational videos. You explain everything in great detail. I,ll try these methods that you demonstrate when i,m in my bee yard.Thanks Jeff

  3. Interesting and Informative. Down here in Aus where things can be very dry we have instances of smokers causing bush fires. We use a range of fuels from hessian,eucalyptus bark cardboard etc. one handy gadget I use is a long neck kitchen gas lighter which reaches to the bottom of the smoker when tilted. Can light the shavings at the bottom of the smoker.

  4. Hi from California, you said that the guard bees go in and gorge themselves. Why do they do this? An emergency response in case they need to evaluate? And thanks for all the wonderful videos.

  5. Thank you to everyone for watching and supporting our videos! If you have any questions about our videos, please check out our list of FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS on our website, which can be found at .

  6. Great series Paul and all the folks at Guelph. Definitely recommending this series for beekeepers in Oregon.

  7. Great video there. I have a massive beehive on the top of my terrace that i want to get rid of. I am planning to call a professional bee handler to remove the hive without hurting them, so they can relocate. However, i was wondering if i could keep the comb to extract honey. He said he would be using smoke to pacify the bees, and i am thinking if the bees engorge themselves with honey when they see smoke, wouldn't that mean there would be no honey in the comb, or at least very less honey than I could get? Then i also see you and almost every professional bee keepers use smoke to subdue them. Or is it considered a normal loss to lose that bit of honey that the bees have on them.

  8. Interesting, I understood Locust bark was the only safe smoke for bees… Maybe this isn't accurate information I've been given?

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