How to smoke your bees
Smoke is a simple way of calming your bees while you inspect them. The smell of the smoke makes the bees think that their home is on fire and they instinctively begin to protect the hive instead of worrying about the beekeeper. They start to eat honey in order to prepare to leave and find a new home. After you have carried out your inspection and stopped the smoker, the bees will return to normal.
How to use a smoker:
You should puff a little smoke around the entrance to the hive a few minutes before you open it. This starts the process and they will hopefully be full of honey and unable to sting when you open the hive. Once inside the hive – you should smoke a little on the tops of the frames as you inspect the colony. This drives the bees down and makes inspection easier.
A traditional smoker is simply a metal container with bellows attached in which you light a small fire. The aim is to get the fuel to burn badly – producing lots of thick cool smoke. You can use a variety of materials such as wood shavings for pets, dried leaves, cardboard or tightly packed dry grass. It is important that the smoke is cold and does not burn the bees. Mastering the traditional smoker is perhaps the hardest part of beekeeping and you should practise starting and keeping it alight.