Bee Friendly! Part 2 – Smoking the Hive

Bee Friendly! Part 2 - Smoking the Hive

Paul Hirons, beekeeper, continues his visit to his beehive.  He's got his gear on and the smoker is ready....

I move over to the hive and stand away from the entrance.   I see bees flying in and out of the colony so I stand to one side;  I don’t want them flying into me.  They don’t care about me; they are busy.  My kids used to play in a sand pit in front of one of my hives and never batted an eyelid when the bees flew past them and around them.

 Usually I choose the right side as you look at the front. I gently lean over the front and holding my smoker in my left hand I give the entrance a few puffs of smoke directing the smoker nozzle at the hive entrance.  I’ll give it a few puffs, left, middle and right of the whole entrance.  The bees react instantly by humming. I hear my bees make a louder humming noise like an old spinning top.  Beginners sometimes smoke the hive so the smoke wisps out the top!  There is no need to simulate a First World War gas attack ...  just a few gentle puffs on the bellows is all that’s needed.

 “What’s this!” the bees say,“The old fellow is here once again and going to open our hive up. Quick, gorge yourselves on honey before he pinches the lot!”


I look at the apiary, my shoes, my gloves, and I stand quietly and relaxed while the busy bees rush about inside the hive.  I know the bees will rush to their honey stores and eat as much as they can hold so I don’t get it, and, in the process, they become calm and docile.  They become stupefied by the honey they gorge themselves on.  I give them five minutes before I do anything else.

Next time, in Part 3, Paul opens up the hive to see what's going on inside ...

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Some beekeepers spray the hive with sugar syrup instead of smoking. This also has the benefit of the bees grooming each other and knocking off varroa mites.


6 April, 2010