What Are Beekeepers Doing? Using A Smoker

Perhaps one of the most commonly associated pieces of beekeeping equipment used is the Smoker.  It is also one of the most misunderstood pieces of equipment that beekeepers use that non-beekeepers have questions about.

Beekeeping smoker

Most people want to know why is it that beekeepers blow smoke into bee hives on on bees.  Short answer; Beekeepers don’t want to get stung.

The long answer takes multiple things into consideration:

  • Smoke “hides” a pheromone that serves as a combines warning system and “Call in the reserves!” alarm.  Fewer bees to fend off.
  • Smoke is thought to turn bees into “preppers” who stop everything and go gorge on honey in case there’s a forest fire or something.
  • Smoke can be used to “herd” bees into directions away from the direction the smoke is blown at them.  Useful to clear spaces of lots of bodies so as to inspect.

Beekeepers don’t particularly want to stress the bees out.  TO reduce stress, beekeepers usually use things that produce a “cool” smoke that isn’t so hot as to harm the hive or bees.

Nixon lights a smoker.jpg
By StubbsguyOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Beekeepers also usually prefer to use natural things to burn so as not to send poisonous fume into the hives.  Pine needles are a major favorite among beekeepers as it is non-toxic and tends to keep the smoke cool and “thick”.  Thick because then “less is more”.

When using beekeeping smokers properly, beekeepers are better able to inspect hives to keep them free of diseases and pests.  At the same time, the beekeeper is also keeping themselves and others in the surrounding area safe by not agitating bees.  Lastly, By properly using a smoker, beekeepers are keeping bee colonies less stressed and keep aggressiveness down.  Bees that get fired up to defend aggressively can experience high death rates due to many bees going out to defend and sting.  Beekeepers don’t want that.

Working bees low stress. Avenarius at the German language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

There are some other ways to work with bee hives that don’t involve a smoker, but it is tried and true, relatively easy for beginners to use and bee successful and serves as a constant reminder to the beekeeper that going into a hive is not something to do just for fun.  It’s a serious tool meant for doing serious deeds, like keeping bees healthy and alive.

Opportunities Abound

The beekeeping community is a great and open community.  As a Linux “nut” and a DIY guy, I am able to make many comparisons between beekeepers, Do-It-Yourselfers and open source software people.  There is a great general approach to sharing information and making resources available among members of the communities.

At the same time, There are people within the communities who spend vast amounts of time, energy, resources to create and provide materials and support for others who earn any and every penny they can from those they support.

In order to make a living in the beekeeping field, much as in the other areas, there are a couple of ways that it can be done reasonably.

Firstly, A resource/support provider can charge a rate for “direct” support and service.  This falls into the “let me do that for you” category.  While many beekeepers seeking assistance and resources from the beekeeping community in general love to connect with each other to teach and learn, it’s something else entirely to expect someone to take time out to come and do something for someone else.

In the DIY, open-source and beekeeping communities, there are some people who voluntarily become a mentor to others without charging a fee.  Just out of the kindness of their heart and their willingness to help others. A great character trait to be sure and wonderful to find when a person could use a hand.  However, volunteer mentors are exactly that, volunteers.  They usually have a “day job” to pay their bills and they have family and friends they do things with so their time and opportunity to mentor others is limited to what opportunity and time they have left-over from the job and family.  I think everyone can appreciate and respect that.

Someone making a living from their beekeeping efforts is doing so almost always as a self employed person.  The way they pay their bills, take care of their families, etc.. is by making valuable services and resources available at the convenience of the client.  They work on the client’s schedule, coming out to do a particular service for that client at the client’s convenience instead of making the person wait until and if some free time comes up for a volunteer mentor to become available.

In other situations, people live in areas where there are few or no volunteer resources, no mentors available but they still need help to come to them when on their schedule.  the professional apiarist (beekeeper for hire) is able to accommodate those remote clients, providing them the services and resources they need, when they need it.

The second way someone can work as a professional apiarist and make a living (or try to) in their beekeeping is to offer and make available various types of resources and opportunities on an ongoing basis then asking for either donations, small fees to access or in some cases, pull together a group of supporters or patrons who appreciate all the work and effort the pro apiarist is doing and make regular contributions to support that work and help keep it going.

Some pro apiarists do one way, some the other other, some blend the two together.  No matter how they arrange it, it’s no “easy” career path.  It’s a case of following a passion and taking what you can make of it.  No one gets “rich” in terms of money from this though their levels of personal satisfaction and self fulfillment are through the roof.

There those folks in all of those communities, DIY, Open Source and beekeeping, who seem to think they are “owed” help and support for free all the time.  But by and large, most people “get it” and when they really need that experienced caching or just need to step away and let someone with the knowledge and experience to do it right get it done, they go with the paid pro apiarist without hesitation.

No matter what, the beekeeping community just like the DIY and Open Source/Linux communities are filled with endless opportunities to grow one’s knowledge and skills at their activity of choice.  Take what you can, give back when you can and for some, take the next step and become the next creator who makes whole new resources and opportunities available.  There is plenty of room in all those communities for the hobbyist and the pro alike.  The point is, whether you approach it as a hobbyist or a Pro, you are in the game loving every minute of it.

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Bringing You The Best Of The Buzz On Bees, Beekeepers and Beekeeping

Here at the Bee Smart beekeeping project, we want to bee the best we can bee.  A large part of that is working to bring you interesting, useful and entertain original content.

Beeginning today, Bee Smart beegins the next phase of bringing forth the buzz by doing a bit of news aggregation.  Meaning, we scour the world wide web every morning looking for noteworthy news and put it all together here in one place for you.   Beecause of that, we’ve also added a new category area to search in our posts, “Bee Newsworthy”

You will notice that we have already posted some interesting tidbits pulled from various news sources that we think you will find fits our description of “useful, interesting and entertaining”.

Later today, you will still get some of our original content as you are becoming used to seeing as well.  I hope you enjoy the news and notes here.  I know I like them.


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A French beekeeper makes mead in the Paris catacombs | Public Radio International

Audric de Campeau has combined his two passions, beekeeping and winemaking, by making mead, an alcoholic beverage made with honey. And he ages his mead in the tunnels under Paris.

Source: A French beekeeper makes mead in the Paris catacombs | Public Radio International

Bee Smart Podcast Project: Advanced Bee Culture

The Bee Smart beekeeping project is all about bring useful, informative and entertaining (hopefully) content about all things bees, beekeepers and beekeeping.

In the spirit of all of the above, I am proud to announce the “audio” recording of the book “Advanced Bee Culture” by W.Z. Hutchinson.  This is the second edition published in 1911 and edited by E.R. Root of the A.I. Root Company.

Unlike traditional audio book recordings, each chapter will be recorded as one episode here until the book is completed.

I hope you enjoy hearing this book as you drive, or sit back and relax.  It happens to be one of my personal favorites containing a great deal of information still pertinent and relevant today.

Look for the posting of the Introduction and Chapter One Thursday, January 19 and hopefully every Thursday afterward the next chapters will be posted here on the Bee Smart website.

December 2016 Marked 185 years Since Huber Passed Away

Francois Huber is one of the most notable beekeepers and bee researchers in all of beekeeping history.  His story is amazing.  Born in 1750 he began to go blind at about age 15.

He had a personal assistant named Francois Burnens and was married to Marie Lullin who acted as his proxy eyes in the field.

His most notable accomplishments include his book, “Nouvelles Observations sur les Abeilles” (New Observations Upon Bees” in 1792 with a second volume in 1814.

This past December marked 185 years since he died.  His research and writing however makes him an immortal in the world of modern beekeeping.

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Beekeeping Book Reviews

Welcome to a new feature of the Bee Smart website.  The Bee Smart project is essentially made up of three parts.  There is the Video component which focuses on presentation.  There are the podcasts which focus on articulation.  The third, the website here, is mostly focused on collation.  That is, the collection and arrangement of information in such a way as to be useful.

One of the best uses of the blog section of this website is to bring you information about resources as we come across them.  Reviewing books is an excellent example of just that.  We plan to review new books, old books and all beekeeping books in between.

Keeping in line with the goals of the Bee Smart project, when books are reviewed, we want to judge based on overall usefulness, accuracy of information, and if it’s entertaining or not.

So, there will bee 3 grade areas of 1 to 5 bees for each.  1 beeing worst and 5 being best.  You will see how well each book scores in accuracy and information, interest value and entertainment and practicality or how well a reader can realistically apply or put to use what they get from the book.

In addition, each book will get an overall average of the 3 scoring areas.

In presenting each books, reviews will include notes or specific examples of the things being described to help our website readers see how or why the reviewer came to their conclusions.

We have currently a few people who will bee writing these reviews but we welcome our community members to “apply” as it were to bee a or “the” official book reviewer(s) for the Bee Smart project.

If you want to read beekeeping books and review them here, send a review based on the above described methods for doing reviews to: beesmart@bbe-tech.com.stay tuned, the first review debuts on Thursday, December 29th.

Bee Smart and Bee Handy

The Bee Smart project is an aspect of the BBE-Tech Apiary Services effort to help beekeepers to bee successful.  It is the information branch of the BBE-Tech Apiary Services tree.

While the main BBE-Tech website focuses on the services I provide locally to beekeepers, businesses and residents, the Bee Smart project focuses on getting information disseminated and sharing experiences.

To that end, the Bee Smart project is really two branches in one.  The main branch of course is the weekly podcasts, monthly video program and shared content on the website.

A special branch of that is the “Bee Handy” special focus on not just sharing information and experiences but taking people step-by-step through various hands-on projects and activities.

Beecause, “Thought without action is wasted time and action without thought is wasted effort.”  We most certainly do not want to waste time or effort, so we give you the information to stimulate thought and then we go the extra step and walk you through the steps of actually doing things to inspire you to taking action on those thoughts.

Going forward, you will hear me use the phrase, “Bee Smart and Bee Handy” as the new motto of the Bee Smart project.

There will be podcasts, videos and website content geared specifically to “Bee Handy” How-To’s and step-by-step projects.  Please keep an eye out for “Bee Handy” in the titles of those posts, videos and podcasts.