Tending to the hives is one of the primary roles of a beekeeper. Bees have a wild temper and can attack when they feel like the colony is being invaded. This is where a bee smoker comes in. It is a device used to puff smoke into the hive.
Smoke, in this case, is used for masking pheromones that bees release when they think of an attack. Additionally, it helps to keep the bees calm and prevent you from stings.
Finding the best bee smoker and bee smoker fuel can be challenging with all the options on the market. This article features seven best bee smokers and two smoker fuel options that you can choose. But first, let’s discuss how a bee smoker works.
How Does A Bee Smoker Work?
A smoker works by driving smoke into the hive. This smoke is used as a ‘distraction’ for bees to keep them calm and stop them from releasing pheromones.
When there is smoke in the hive, honey bees think of it as a forest fire. It alerts them to eat up all lots of honey and flee the ‘burning hive.’ This situation works to the advantage of the beekeeper, making it easy to tend to the hive.
The design of a bee smoker is simple. The can has a bellow attached and a spout that helps you direct the smoke better. The smoker works simply by driving smoke into a specific part of the hive. You are required to start a fire in the can by lighting up fuel.
You then pump the bellows to force oxygen through the fire and pump out the smoke. It is important to note, however, that you do not stuff the fuel to close to the spout. Such a situation would prevent proper airflow and make it difficult for the smoker to keep burning.
The 7 Best Bee Smokers
1. Vivo Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker
The Vivo Bee Hive Smoker is designed to help keep the bees calm and protect you from stings.
- Measures 11 x 4 inches
- Comes with a heat shield
- Mounting hook
- Perforated firebase
The bee smoker comes in handy when tending to your hives. It has a heat shield, which is a protective guard surrounding the smoker. This shield prevents burns as you handle the smoker keeping you safe all through.
The mounting hook on the side of the canister is useful for suspending or storing the smoker. The design features a perforated firebase that provides air pockets at the bottom. It is essential for proper airflow and consistent smoke production.
The smoker gives you the best value for money with the design and functionality. However, the bellows on this smoker might need replacement after a while, if you use the smoker regularly.
2. Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker
If you are looking for a high-quality bee smoker, this model from Honey Keeper is an ideal choice.
- Stainless steel construction
- Comes with a heat shield
- Mounting hook
- Heat aerator
- High-quality bellows
The smoker is designed for efficiency and convenience. The design features a mounting hook that you can use when storing or suspending the smoker. The smoker is made of stainless steel, which is known for its durability.
Using this smoker is straightforward and suits a beginner. The heat aerator ensures airflow into the chamber for a long-lasting smolder. The bellows ensure consistent burning and smoke production.
It is an excellent choice for regular use. However, the carburetor at the bottom might need replacement after a while.
3. Mann lake HD540 Smoker
Mann Lake is known for its high-quality beekeeping essentials. This smoker is one of the best and has shown to stand the test of time.
- Comes with a guard
- Heavy-duty stainless steel construction
- Replaceable pro-bellow
- Measures 10 x 4 inches
- Lower bracket placement
The design of this smoker is unique yet simple for functionality. It comes with a guard and features an open lid tab with a heavy-duty hinge. It is super easy to use and holds up well.
It is made from quality stainless steel to last long. The lower bracket placement ensures the safety and protects your fingers from burning. It is compact and convenient to lift and carry around.
It is a suitable smoker for both beginners and experienced beekeepers. Although the top does not fit the bottom right, it works seamlessly to produce smoke.
4. Foxhound Bee Company Bee Smoker
This 4 x 11-inch smoker is designed with heavy-duty features to ensure functionality and durability.
- Safety shield
- Attractive and functional design
- Heavy-duty design
The smoker features a stainless steel heat shield that surrounds the smoker chamber. It prevents accident burns and fires when tending to the hive. More to this, it has a beginner-friendly design that is easy to use. It is easy to light, thanks to the extra-thick airflow plate and airflow tube.
It is one of the best smokers on the market. It gets the job done and has a simple design for every beekeeper’s needs.
5. Goodland Bee Supply Bee Hive Smoker
This bee smoker is one of the best for regular use. The surface is suitable for use with or without gloves for convenience.
- Polished stainless steel
- Perforated smoke pellet stand
- Welded metal fall
- Heat cage
If you are looking for a functional bee smoker on a budget, you can settle on this one from Goodland. It has a simple design and is made from stainless steel. It also features a heat cage that keeps hands safe from the heat.
The perforated smoke pellet stand ensures proper airflow into the chamber. This feature ensures consistent burning and production of smoke. The top, however, does not seal tightly, so you may need to replace it.
6. CO-Z Bee Smoker
The best bee smoker should withstand regular use and last long. This CO-Z model is an excellent example of a functional and long-lasting bee smoker.
- Stainless steel construction
- Comes with a heat shield
- Removable perforated base plate
- Has a mounting hook
It is the best smoker to help calm bees and protect you from stings. The design features a removable, perforated base plate to drive in air and ensure consistent burning. The base plate has foldable stands for convenient use.
The mounting hook comes in handy to hang the smoker for hands-free use. The lid can be a little stiff to open but gets loose with time. It has proven to work well and lasts a long time.
7. Homestead Essentials Bee Smoker
The unique design of this smoker contributes to its functionality. It has a German-style round dome top, which keeps the smoker lit and free from debris.
- Stainless steel construction
- Perforated stand
- Welded metal heat cage
- Removable and adjustable stand
- Mounting clip
The smoker comes with a perforated stand to provide maximum airflow. The stand is adjustable and removable to suit your needs. With the welded metal heat cage, this smoker is safe to use without worrying about accidental burns.
It is an excellent choice for both beginners and experts. The improved design makes it simple and effective for regular use.
Bee Smoker Fuel
1. Mann Lake HD554 KwikStart Smoker Pellet
These pellets are designed to work as fuel for bee smokers. You only need to light them up, blow out, and leave them to produce smoke.
- Starter or main fuel
- 8.5 x 5.5 inches
- Easy to use
The bee smoker fuel lights up quickly and burns for a long time. They can work correctly as starters or the primary fuel for your smoker. Additionally, they come in small sizes for easy stacking in the smoker chamber.
The pellets are convenient to use and have proven to work well. Although these are best as starter fuel, you can keep them burning longer by stacking more in the chamber.
2. Midwest Gloves Smoker Fuel
This one-pound bag of bee smoker fuel is a suitable choice if you are looking for quality, consistently-burning fuel.
- Made of cotton fibers
- Easy to light
- Long, continuous burn
- Light, cool smoke
This type of fuel works well for regular use. It is made of cotton fibers that burn slowly, producing clean smoke. It is super easy to light and can last a long time while inspecting the hive.
You would need to stack in a lot of the fuel to ensure you have enough smoke. If you take time inspecting the hive, this fuel could work with or without other fuel options.
How to Use a Bee Smoker
There is no specific procedure of using a bee smoker, but it is essential to follow a few steps to ensure you do it right. Here is a simple way of using a bee smoker.
- Crumple up a piece of burlap or paper, light it up and place it inside the smoker’s chamber.
- You can stuff up the starter fuel (a piece of paper or burlap) and use a long lighter for safety.
- Start pumping the smoker bellows to start the smoke.
- Once the starter material is lit, add the fuel.
- At this stage, you can use a hive tool to pack the fuel in and keep the smoke going.
It is essential to maintain the flow of smoke out of the smoker. This requires you to pack the smoker fuel tightly, so it keeps producing smoke. Also, ensure you pump the bellows regularly to provide a flow of oxygen to burn the fuel.
Tips for Using a Bee Smoker
As much as using a bee smoker is pretty straightforward, there are some tips you can follow to make the process easier and more efficient.
- Less is more. Note that too much smoke distracts the bees and can make it hard for you to tend to the hive.
- Wait a few minutes after pumping out smoke near the entrance of the hive. This gives the smoke time to distribute and work its magic.
- Hold the spout about 10 inches from the bees. Remember, the smoke can be too hot and could kill bees near the entrance.
- Pack the right amount of fuel. Too much of it will block oxygen flow. Too little will burn too fast and go out.
- Remember to puff the bellows after a while to keep the fuel burning.
- The smoker can get too hot to hold by the handle on the lid. Instead, holding by the bellows or the hook at the front. The bottom of the smoker can be too hot to hold as well.
- Take caution and avoid setting the smoker near flammable materials or surfaces.
Key Features of a Bee Smoker
A smoker has three essential features; the chamber, bellow, and heat shield.
This is the part where the fuel burns to produce smoke. It comes in a cylindrical design and takes the shape of a big teapot. Most chambers are made from stainless steel, while some are made from other flame-resistant metals.
This part of the smoker comes in handy to blow air through the fuel to keep burning and produce smoke. Bellows are made of a material that cannot pass air through like leather, rubber, etc.
This part is essential and affects how the smoker operates. A heat shield ensures safety when handling a hot smoker. Experienced beekeepers may not find it useful, but if you are starting out, it is advisable to get a smoker with a heat shield.
How to Clean a Bee Smoker
Over time, your bee smoker can be sooty and dirty. You need to clean it as part of regular maintenance to keep it functional. You can follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Scraping
Scrape the hard soot layer in the smoker using a hive tool or a flat-head screwdriver. The soot comes off in small flakes and chunks. Keep scraping until all is gone, and the inside is smooth. Note: If your smoker has a removable base plate, you can pop it out to allow scraping the bottom as well.
Step 2: Soaking
Cover the bellows with tape to prevent water damage when soaking. Use twine to suspend the smoker in a bucket so the bellows will be above the water level. Add a cup of white vinegar in the bottom of the bucket and fill it with hot water.
Fill it up until the smoker is mostly submerged. Check to ensure the water is not touching the bellow’s air tube. Also, soak the firebase plate as well and leave these in water overnight.
Step 3: Wipe down
Remove the smoker from the bucket and pour out the water. Using a soft rag, wipe the smoker clean both inside and out. At this stage, you can use the hive tool to scrape off softened chunks of soot. Some soot stains might not go away, and this is expected with the metal and overly-exposed surfaces.
Is a bee smoker good for you and the bees?
Yes, a bee smoker is an essential beekeeping element. It is good for you in that it prevents bees from stinging you when working on the hive. For the bees, the smoker helps to keep them calm with the right amount of smoke. When used correctly, a bee smoker is helpful and does not affect the health of the bees.
What is the best fuel to use in a bee smoker?
There are many different types of fuel to use in a bee smoker. These include paper, dried leaves, burlap, cotton, straw, etc. The best fuel to use in a smoker should be safe for bees and you too. It is, therefore, essential to use organic, degradable materials that are safe for the environment.
How do you light a bee smoker?
You can use newspaper to light up the smoker. You should place the starter fuel at the bottom of the chamber and use a hive tool to push it down. Once the paper is lit, you should add the fuel and start puffing to drive air into the chamber. Once the first stack is lit, add the second layer and repeat the process. This will ensure you have a pile that will burn slowly for longer.
How do you put out the smoker?
Lay the smoker of the side before opening it to prevent a gush of fire burning the leftover fuel. Ensure you lay it on a safe inflammable surface to avoid fire accidents. Putting it on the side blocks airflow, which results in the fuel-burning down slowly.
By learning how a bee smoker and fuel work, you are on your way to being a successful beekeeper. You need a high-quality bee smoker for convenience and functionality. This article can guide you through the selection process; hopefully, you find the ideal option. With the knowledge around the use of bee smokers, you can enhance your beekeeping skills.