To smoke or not smoke.. that is the question.. Where are your thoughts?

Dwayne Parkinson: Smoke when needed. Eventually you’ll catch your bees on a bad day. Best to be ready.

Michael Wood: Smoke lightly

David Pietrowski: Smoke, there is not reason not to especially this time of year.

Tiffany Call McKinzie: I smoke.. but I’m always told to do it lightly.. I’m not sure why?

Anne Solari: Always have smoker prepared and going. You may, or may not need it.

James Sarna Jr: Is it really a question? Bee keepers have been using light smoke since the beginning of bee keeping.

Michelle Horner: In the early season I used sugar water spritz with lemongrass. The bees seemed to retreat and groom themselves and not bother me. Now in the autumn when pulling supers–I did smoke just because I didn’t want any arguing–I didn’t have time to experiment.

James Sarna Jr: There is nothing wrong with lightly smoking, for a better smell use dry pine cones and pine needles.

Angie ‘Pechan’ Lindsey: Smoke em if ya got em…sorry couldn’t resist.

Tiffany Call McKinzie: I smoke.. but I’m always told to do it lightly.. I’m not sure why? Especially if they seem really agitated

Larry Moses: Have you ever tasted honey that tasted like a smoker? That’s why!

Caroline Tessier: Always smoke….lightly??

Niko Nezna: smoking right now, best weed ever!

Rob Jones: I’ve started to never smoke. I suit up but don’t wear gloves. I just rub a little clove oil on my hands (mixed in almond oil) and they leave me alone

Debbie Vilage: Smoke

Anthony Vaughn: Smoke

William Keeley: I have my smoker lit and usually use it unless I’m just filling a feeder. Even then, it is still at the ready.

Paul John Spuria: i have opened up both of my hives with out a smoker it wasnt that bad but i wish i had one lit and ready

Harley Haynes: Smoke

Cameron Daley: I strongly suggest that even if you choose not to smoke, that you have a lit smoker nearby every time you inspect. I promise there will come a time when you’re really really happy it’s there.

Larry Moses: Agreed

Keith Paul Schwartz: Smoke masks the pheromones released by bees when they are under attack. Without it, you risk MANY bees coming after you. As long as you don’t over-smoke them – it makes no sense not to smoke.

Horacio Martin: Combination of water and smoke. Smoke for the ones in the air. Some water mist for the box.

David Mabray Sr.: I like to smoke myself and the surrounding area. Usually don’t have to smoke the bees themselves.

Deome Deome: Finishing my first year. For the first five or six inspections, I used the smoker because I thought I was supposed to. Then I noticed that my girls really didn’t mind me too much, and I stopped using it. I also used sugar water sprays, but again, I found I really didn’t need it (and when the spray hits the outside of the hive, it attracts ants and other pests).For the record, I always wear a full suit, so even if things do go poorly I’m not worried about getting stung. In fact, I have yet to be stung even once.If I have to clean a lot of burr comb, I’ll light it up and use it to get them to move off the comb long enough to scrape it; no need to kill any more than I have to, right?

Will Pedersen: ALWAYS have your smoker ready. Yesterday we took honey from a very active hive and I am pretty sure we were only able to do that because we had the smoke and used it.

Greg Stafford: I smoke my suit up before I put it on, by puffing into the sleeves and leggings, then I puff around the hive, very little in the hive.

Timothy Dillon: Smoke, and also depends on the hive as to how much. I have two hives, one mild, the other has been rather hot this year. I use a little on the mild hive, but a bunch on the hot one by sending puffs from downwind to drift over the box. I try not to smoke them directly unless there are a lot of bees on the part of the frame I need to use the hive tool, or frame lifter on.

Mark Chunn: Smoke

Amanda Surbey: Depends on the mood of the hive. I have started always firing up the smoker, but if I don’t need it, I don’t use it. I do smoke my hands/gloves when I remember to.

Iris DeShazo Hamlin: Smoke

Shelly Ausmus: Smoke is a tool. You don’t have to kill them off with tons of smoke when using it. Practice with it. It calms, it directs. We choose to use smoke without use of suits or veils throughout the year.

Mathew Jordan: Smoke everyday

Chris Power: Smoke when needed.

Gretchen Fisher: Our state inspector smokes like crazy.

Dallen Harrell: Always…. ALWAYS

Merritt Smith Croland: I hate that my husband smokes — can’t stand the scent of cigarettes. I’m vegan so I don’t smoke meat however we do use smoke with our bees probably because we’re new at this and a little timid. Our bees seem gentle enough but …

Peggy Hart: Smoke for sure

John Purcell: The only time I’ve been stung (through my suit and gloves, no less!) has been when I opened the hive to inspect and didn’t smoke. I’m slowly, but surely, learning my lesson….

Rick Austin: ^^^^^ what he said!

Richard Bittner: A smoker and I have tool, all I carry

Rodney Spears: Goodness! Duh! I though you were asking about smoking cigarettes . . .I was getting my health and financial statements all ready for you! hahaha I do definitely think you need to smoke, but sparingly. Dont smoke ’em too much.

Eddie Hughes: I only smoke when I do an inspection, even then I don’t like to use it but it helps the process move quickly so I’m not bothering them for a long time.

Harley Haynes: Yes Pall Mall ?

Emily Jeanne: I currently use sugar water spray – doesn’t catch those that pop off when immediately opened, but seems to help. 1-2 stingers (suited), but generally ok.

P.j. Draper Cardona: Smoke.. Always!

Kevin Dexter: i have a hive that can get vicious if i don’t inspect at the very perfect time that they approve of, so i always smoke them. it’s an old, old colony with crotchety habits. all my other hives are always calm and never seem disrupted when i inspect. so i don’t use a smoker on them. BUT when i harvest honey or shrink colonies down to two boxes for the winter, i smoke all the hives, cause it pushes the bees down into the lower boxes.

Tiffany Shepley: I didn’t smoke a lot at first and was getting discouraged because I was getting stung. I now smoke and have had way better luck. Keeps them calmer(or worried about something else however u want to look at it). It’s something u may have to try for yourself and see what you like better ?

Harley Haynes:

Leon Torkelson: I don’t smoke my bees, I use a spray bottle of water. Water is less threating to bees. Could use sugar water.

Woody Petrea: ALWAYS have a smoker nearby. Entering a box containing 30,000, or more females, whose collective minds may change at any given second, would best be served with some degree of protection.

Will Burgener: Would someone please explain what smoking is and does?TIA

Woody Petrea: Not always, but smoke typically causes bees to gorge themselves, rather than to sting you due to invading their hive. Being full of honey, they are less apt to attack, defending their stores.

Will Burgener: Tx Woody

William Keeley: Smoking also masks some of the bees’ communications pheromones such as their alarm pheromone.

Will Burgener: Tx William

Andrew McManus: Takes a while for the bees to gorge so I smoke entrance then wait 2 min before opening then use little smoke to drive back guard bees as needed. When you see a line of heads between the frames of the open box a gentle waft of smoke can prevent their temper from escalating. Move slowly as quick movement provokes response. Go gently and avoid squashing your friends.

Robert Martin: If you accidentally squish a bee, smoke masks pheromones so the rest of the hive doesn’t freak out. I use smoke on myself and it seems to mask my presence.

W Lyn George: For safety sake I think it is desirable. If things go bad, and they can go bad very quickly, smoke will help. I am older and wiser than I used to be. The Africanization of our bees (Texas) requires a bit of prudence.

Glenn Simpson: In Brownsville we must have smoke available.

W Lyn George: Glenn Simpson near Beaumont. “Most” of the stuff I run into are fairly nice. The exceptions will make a believer out of you and I had one that even smoke didn’t help.

Lana Mei: I never smoke.

Tiffany Call McKinzie: The reason why I’m asking… Is we’ve used the smoker to do inspections we actually had a gentleman more experience than us come out and help us with our inspection because this is our first year. He didn’t suggest us using a lot of smoke and it seems that in the past we’ve used a moderate amount of smoke and we didn’t get stung this time we didn’t use a lot of smoke at all and we got stung several different times.. needless to say they weren’t very happy that day

Dennis Gray: And this does not answer your question? Beware the bee mentors. They often bring terrible advice.

William Keeley: What is your experience showing you?

Aimee Lombardo: Always have it going and ready, you never know what their mood is that day

Steven Hughes: Exactly

Steven Hughes: Only if necessary pending on the temperament of the bees. But when you smoke you change the productivity of the Colony

Tiffany Call McKinzie: What do you mean? And why??

Tiffany Call McKinzie: Pardon my ignorance but this is my first year

Steven Hughes: Well bees are affected by various things the atmosphere, the temperature, whether they’re feeding, laying, lots of things can contribute to the disposition of a bee. Think of it like a human sometimes, you have a attitude. But if you have the smoker ready you can calm down instantly. But when you do smoke them they go from a productive colony to being a colony who thinks there is a fire outside and they may have to leave so they’ll be thinking about packing up and moving until they realize it’s not a fire. Trying to simplify this as best I can

W Lyn George: Steven Hughes Question. How long do you think the effects of the smoking last?

Jason Martinez: It doesn’t effect their productivity. Often when working a smoked colony I see the queen laying and everyone going on business as usual

Steven Hughes: All due respect that’s absolutely incorrect it throws them into a survival mode

Jason Martinez: When u smoke them but not ten minutes later

Steven Hughes: Exactly but the productivity is affected the question was not about the matter of time involved.

Jeanette Weiser Calvert: I do, and have sugar water in a spray bottle for backup in case my smoker goes out– but I only use it when I’m putting my hive back together so I don’t squish them.

Donald Cosper: Smoke every time.

Steven Hughes:

John Archbold: puff puff pass

Devin Bradshaw:

Dennis Gray: I got to add a lot of people to the block list from this post. Thanks OP! :)Smoke every time. There’s no disadvantage to smoking, there’s never anything to lose by smoking them. People have done this for millennia. Don’t let the new people convince you of their stupid ideas to dump a long established tool of the trade. You’ll never ever find a pro spraying with sticky water, etc.Beginners are often mislead by their new gentle colony. The true temperament of a colony can not be assayed until it’s full grown. And for those who say, light it but don’t use it, once the alarm is sounded, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. You’ll get your a$$ kicked eventually.

Larry Moses: Always have one lit and within reach but hardly ever use it. But when you need it you are damn happy you choose to have it ready.

Steven Hughes: Exactly

Rick Austin: I hear cigars are an option.

W Lyn George: Its what my Grandfather used. Roi Tan if I remember. A pipe with Prince Albert tobacco as well.

Andrew McManus: Nicotine smoke is a narcotic to Bees and toxic in excess. Use too much and they roll around like drunks. Some do use it.

W Lyn George: Andrew McManus I personally wouldn’t use it but I have seen it used quite successfully.

William Keeley: I use sumac berries if I need to sedate my girls.

Toni Huckstepp: One of my hives hate smoke but don’t have a problem with sugar water

Dan West: Always

Mark Regan: Sugar water is asking for problems. Moisture in your hive is dangerous and sugar water is even more prone to growing fungi and harboring bacteria. Smoke all day everyday!

Linda Mermaid: I didn’t smoke. I used sugar water spray. It didn’t work very well. Then I got a smoker. I will use a smoker. It works very well. I try not to over-use it though. I got tired of killing lots of girls when reassembling the hive. Smoke makes them dive down between the frames.

James Slemp: smoke seems more reliable to alter there normal behavior while your in the hive.

Bobby Norton: Always smoke

Jason Martinez: Smoke is a the biggest tool in the Beekeepers toolbox. Can’t imagine not using it

Richard Gover: I love a good smoke?

Kim Farmer:


Duane Wheeler: I smoke first to calm me , then I give them some other smoke to calm them. Sucks when I get the two mixed up

William Keeley: If my strong hive is hot, or if I take too long and they, start becoming rambunctious, I will smoke them with some sumac mixed into the regular fuel. I only had to use it when Irma was on the way. They started to chase when I just approached the hive to change feed jars.

Steven Hughes: Barometric pressure was changing

William Keeley: Steven Hughes , that makes sense.

Tiffany Call McKinzie: Very interesting..didn’t know that can effect them

Shirla Williams: I use as little smoke as I can. My first reason is it seems to make my bees mad second reason is I have asthma and the smoke about kills me, third reason is to me it is not reliable. I think I have nice bees. And no I don’t have many colonies so I can work them when the bees are happier and not on bad days. That is what works for me for now, subject to change possible.

Dennis Gray: I don’t have asthma, but smoke does sometimes set of the sneezes. It’s terrible in hot hives when I can’t pause and blow my nose. It has ocasionally gotten quite terrible inside the veil…. so sadly, I feel your pain.

Andrew Eiswert: Smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Michael Nash: Smoke em

Mark Loncarevic: Dont do it .its bad for your health… try patches or cold turkey… your lungs will thank you for it?

Margaret Groot: Geez louise…do you really need to ask

Tiffany Call McKinzie: Not sure why you are being rude.. I wanted to know people’s opinions..

Woody Petrea: Unless we are all mind readers, Margaret, I think that is the only way Tiffany would be able to find out.

Steven Hughes: The only dumb question Margaret is no question at all not everybody’s on the same level of intelligence or knowledge. This is an informational site not a bashing site how about taking that crap somewhere else

Tiffany Call McKinzie: Thank you.. the only reason why I was asking is because I’m new to beekeeping as of April and we usually smoke the bees but we’re always told lightly if it all by more experienced beekeepers and I just wanted to know people’s opinions. The other day when we inspected with a more experienced beekeeper he told us lightly smoke and we didn’t really smoke ourselves and that day we got stung several different times so I wanted to know if this is it common thing not to smoke the bees heavily

Steven Hughes: No worries, don’t sweat it, you’ve always got haters that will hate. No question is a dumb question and no beekeeper knows it all. ever. I’ve been doing it for 14 years and I’ve talked to beekeepers thats been doing it for 65 years and they are still learning so do not be concerned with people like Margaret, you got a question post it

Margaret Groot: I am sorry that you have taken this as me being rude I thought I was being funny, TiffanyCallMcKinzie my apology for any offence.

Margaret Groot: I am definitely not a hater, it’s sad that my comment which was just a joke to bee taken to this level, I do lots of work helping new beekeepers and I apologise to all those who feel I have offended, because I reiterate that was not my intention.

Margaret Groot: Please chill out it was meant as a joke.

Gary Fawcett:

Gary Fawcett: Well I thought that was funny

Steven Hughes: It’s all good Margaret, sometimes the problem is with this Facebook there’s no facial expressions so everything is taken literally. it’s hard to decipher sometimes but thanks for the clarification

Margaret Groot: Thank you Steven Hughes

Sara Airoldi: smoke the bees but not the humans

Flordeliza Ramos: Mam smoke the hive not the bees

W Lyn George: Do whatever works best at the time. What works today may not work next week. Bees and my wife have a lot in common. I just never know what I am going to get and both can nail me. Light the smoker and then open the top. I usually know within a few moments what to expect. Experience will help. One hive gets smoked every time. One may just get a light puff or two. Like most things in life, it just depends. Good question and some very fine replies. Thanks for asking. Very interesting.

Henk Jansen van Vuuren: South Africa .. africanized … I dare you not to smoke ..

Dennis Gray: Your comment made me laugh Henk because people in my neighborhood (south Texas) say that smoke makes the WORSE not better. It just goes to show that people will believe anything. Smoke away!

W Lyn George: Dennis Gray I hear the same thing in East Texas. Smoke works.

Sarah Lynn Blackmer: Better to have a smoker and not need it, than need it and not have it. Once I opened a hive and a bee darted out and stung me. Also the smoke is a useful tool. If you have a full hive you can use the smoke to get bees away from frames so you can push them together. Or if you need to put on an entrance reducer a little smoke will drive the bees away so you do kill them. I did a cut out and when I went to cover the front entrance to move the hive, the crawled up into my boots and stung my feet. A little smoke and they never would have came out.

Chuck Reburn: Go ahead, reach in bare handed without a smoker and start pulling frames… tell me again how that works for you…

Chuck Reburn: Spray a little water on them, I’m sure that’ll work fine for getting those boxes back together…

Emily Smith Anderton: Depends on what we’re smoking ?

Glenn Simpson: In Brownsville Texas we must assume all feral bees are Africanized and we must have smoke available. If our managed hives swarm the new queen will produce Africanized offspring. It is up to you at the time you work your hive to decide to use it

George Skee Codding: I have tried it both ways and usually prefer to use a small amount of smoke at the entrance & screened inner cover before entering a mature hive. I ensure my smoker is not too hot by touching the nozzle. My bees are much calmer with the smoke so it is better for them. I feel it helps mask the attack scent if there is such a thing. If the bees are acting aggressive, use smoke.

Margaret Groot: Honey Bees have great sense of smell, so smoking is something I do but only when I start my inspection and lightly, I have a routine of getting the smoker ready then when smoke cool enough give them a light puff into the entrance. I then tapo twice on each hive box, to let them know I will be coming in and then go from there. When I have a hive with a mesh floor I smoke under there a bit too. When I lift the hive mat a bit then as well. Smoking Bees in my view should be just giving them a warning, over-smoking us not helpful, best approach us beeing calm and taking it slowly.

Allen Davies: To much smoke at the entrance can cause the bees to run up to the top of the hive, when you want them to stay on the frames.I will smoke them off the top of the frames and boxes so not to kill them when replacing boxes after inspection.

Margaret Groot: I find they do go to honey frames or nectar frames as they are reacting instinctively, because they are getting ready to leave because there is a risk of fire.

Margaret Groot: My experience is that Bees will not be killed through smoking them I think if you did you are using too much heat. If too hot you could damage their wings if you don’t check the heat of the smoke, that’s why above I have mentioned checking smoke heat is important – just put your hand over the smoke to test.. smoke should be cool.

Andrew Eiswert:


Salvatore Barone: I used to smoke the bees but they are to hard to keep lit.

Allen Davies: Try drying them and use about 20 in the paper

Salvatore Barone: Love it. I was starting to fear that bee people have their funny bone surgely removed.

Allen Davies: You can bee very serious about how you answer a serious question but give the same answer light heartedly

Salvatore Barone: I needed a sense of humor my sanity depended on it. I had three young children and ran our family farm for a little better than 20 years. I loved raising animals and now I do the same with a few bugs. When my kids were young had to explain to them, except for chicken on a farm if it died a natural death it was call a pet. By the way a natural death for a chicken is being eaten. When you put kids and large animals in close proximity to each other comedy and disaster commingle. Certainly not all but I do find that bug people take raising ill tempered insects in a box to seriously. Now my kids are grown the animals are gone bugs in a box are a drop in the bucket. Now that I have grand babies here on the farm I’ve reinstalled some fencing for a few piglets. No more than half a dozen or so unless I start the breeding program once more.

Allen Davies: Exactly Might sound silly but I see my bees as pets .but its a bit difficult taking them for a walk and I cannot fly but they ammuse me with thier antics . Bumping into each other on take off ,overshooting the runway on landing . I am glad I am not a bee traffic controller .How do they carry all that Pollen and necter .But then again they carry away some of thier dead.

Salvatore Barone: If it dies a natural death they are pets. I believe they fit my definition of pet. Good call.

Allen Davies: Have you tried them in a pipe .Grind them up dry and use as snuff.Snuff said.

Salvatore Barone: Allen Davies no I have not. Once you remove the stinger they do make a good chew.

Allen Davies: Well when you are starving you will try anything, but is there any better food than honey.

Salvatore Barone: Allen in the north east of the states bees can put up 70 to 100 lbs honey. With the amount of damp days how do bees fair in the UK?

Allen Davies: By June it is possible to have two full supers .If you take it off you may to feed if there is a June gap. 60lbs possible. .July to August at lest one full super but ups and downs say 20-30lb .Then after treatments if you use any feed for winter 25k syrup . My crop hives gave me two supers each 120lb

Salvatore Barone: I’m a bit surprised and impressed with the type of rain that you have. That is why I asked. I became a bit suspicious where you lived when you thought I was tucking in to a plate of bees. Chew is dried tobacco stuffed into the cheek of the mouth. Never use the stuff I leave that up to bace ball players. I have friends from the UK they only reminded every time I see them how we in the US have corrupted their language. This is all a bit of tongue in cheek between the two of us.

Allen Davies: Oh! the poor English language. Unfortunatly I am Welsh and we have our own language. Beleave it or not the last two years spring has been our best months.

Salvatore Barone: I have to go and be more productive than I am at this moment. I would like to chat some time soon. I will pm you if you don’t mind. Thanks Sal.

Allen Davies: Being a OAP. PLenty of time on my Hands.Here from you soon.Allen

Salvatore Barone: Why do you say “unfortunately Welch” will talk soon so I can find out why.

Salvatore Barone: Years ago when I was young strong and good looking i l worked for a man that was Scottish and was he ever.

Salvatore Barone: All of those conditions have changed for me except the Scottish part.

Allen Davies: I thought you wanted to go and do some work