Other than perhaps owning a hive tool, nothing says, “I’m a beekeeper” more than carrying around a billowing bee smoker and leaving a cloud of smoke behind you. Smokers usually come in two sizes, 4- inches and 7-inches. A 4-inch smoker is pictured here.
Fuel for the bee smoker comes in many shapes and sizes. Our favorite smoker fuels at Wildflower Meadows are eucalyptus bark, pine needles, and alfalfa pellets. Some other popular smoker fuels are:
- Burlap pieces
- Cotton rolls (unbleached)
- Small wood chips
- Peanut shells
- Rice husks
- Small branches
Smoke calms the bees in two ways. First, upon encountering smoke and anticipating an oncoming fire, the bees retreat to the hive and fill their bodies with honey. (By filling their bodies with honey, the bees are “grabbing the essentials” before potentially heading out for an emergency evacuation.) This process of filling up with honey distracts the bees from the oncoming human intrusion. Second, the odor of the smoke disrupts and masks the alarm pheromones that the guard bees give off. If the alarm pheromones cannot spread effectively, fewer bees are aware that there is any reason to become defensive.