Harvesting honey, an exciting activity for beekeepers. It’s time they got to see the rewards of their intensive labor.
However, as exciting as harvesting is, it cannot be done without having the right tools. You cannot just open you’re the hive and start harvesting the honey, you will be stung by the bees and many of them will escape in the process.
To make harvesting easy and fun, you need a smoker, one of the essential instruments a beekeeper must have. This post reviews the best bee smokers and bee smoker fuels available for purchase. It further covers the ‘whys,’ ‘hows’ of a bee smoker and fuel then every other thing in between. Do read on for more…
Why Bee Smokers?
Bee Smokers are used in sedating bees while beekeepers work in the hive. Activities like harvesting, moving the hive, adding new bees, collecting wax and pollen etc. require the use of bee smokers. The smoker help reduce the risk of being injured by the bees or the bees escaping. 
How the Bee Smoker Works?
A Bee smoker releases carbon smoke into the hive. Smoke masks the special pheromones bees release when they are threatened. Soldier and guard bees in hives usually secret the chemical in question. The smoke puffed in the hive act as a mask to the chemical, hence the all the bees in the colony remain calm and not put up any defensive attacks.
In this state, the beekeeper can do whatever he or she needs to do without being attacked. Alternatively, the smoke causes the bees to initiate a feeding response to danger. With the smokes being puffed into the hive, the bees develop a sense of their hive being in danger of fire damage.
Now the bees respond to the fire by binge eating honey. They binge eat honey so that they have reserves for survival before starting another colony somewhere else.
Unfortunately, the overfeeding causes them to be too week to fly. Their wings will not be able to carry them which makes it difficult for them to fly away. With this mechanism, beekeepers have nothing to worry about regarding the possibility of bees escaping when they open their hives.
Top 6 Best Bee Smokers for the Money:
VIVO Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker with Heat Shield |Beekeeping Equipment (BEE-V001)
From the stable of VIVO comes the BEE-V001, a stainless steel beehive smoker. It gives off safe cool smoke to help calm bees and protect the keeper from bee attack while working within the hive.
It comes with a heat shield guard round to protect the user from sustaining burns in case of contact. It also features a mounting hook and perforated fire base for good airflow and optimum performance.
Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker Stainless Steel with Heat Shield Beekeeping Equipment
Honey Bee Hive Smoker is the one beehive smoker that does the perfect job of maintaining your beehive colonies without causing any disturbances to the ever-busy bees.
Fortified with stainless steel that will not easily give in to rust, this smoker also comes with Heat Shield. With no construction issues, it’s seamless handling all the way.
Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker with 3 Pack of Smoker Fuel
This good quality, thick stainless steel coated smoker comes with 3 packs of Smoker fuel. It burns well and gives your beehive that ‘smoky’ outlook.
The top seals tightly and prevents any form of leakage. Goodland Bee Supply works well for any beehive, functions properly and resists damages. The product is highly commendable and limitless in use.
CO-Z Bee Smoker, Stainless Smoker with Heat Shield Protection, Beekeeping Equipment Kit for Starter Beekeeper
Made with stainless steel, the CO-Z also features a Heat Shield Protection – an ideal Beekeeping Equipment for a starter Beekeeper. The smoker saves fuel, as it needs no much fuel to power up.
Equipped with leather bellows that allow for easy smoke pumping, the smoker happens to be quite affordable. Easy to set up and requires no strenuous work. It works perfectly fine and a mere trial will get you addicted!
Hoont Commercial Grade Bee Smoker for Beekeeping – Heavy Duty Stainless Steel with Metal Het Shield and Metal Hook – Superior Airflow Bellow and Excellent Smoke Output
This heavy-duty stainless steel smoker comes ‘metal heat shield,’ ‘metal hook’ and ‘superior airflow bellows.’ Perfect for large beehives, it’s absolutely efficient and durable. With this a one-time cost smoker, you do not have to worry about a thing!
It’s well equipped and fortified for commercial purposes. It saves a lot of time and energy, and works well for both starters and professionals.
Mann Lake HD540 Stainless Steel Smoker with Guard, 4 by 10-inch
The HD540, a stainless-steel smoker with a guard of 4 by 10-inch comes with rubber bellows and it’s relatively big. Mann Lake HD540 is a good quality product, reliable, long-lasting and less strenuous to use.
It pumps well and smoke lasts longer without the need to relight at intervals. It needs no special skills or expertise to operate and produces no obnoxious fumes.
Top 7 Best Bee Smoker Fuels:
Bee Smoker Fuel 100% Cotton Yarn – Cotton Thread – By the Pound
The Bee Smoker Fuel compose of 100% cotton yarn thread that burns slowly but lights up quickly. It saves time and results in optimum value for its usage.
It generates quality smoke for a quality price. It pulls apart easily, hence ideal any job type. For small jobs just pull out the quantity you need, hence it lasts longer since waste is minimized.
Bee Smoker Fuel 100% Cotton Knitted Smoking Cut-Offs – By the Pound
Made with 100% cotton textile that was spun into yarn. It lights up on the first spark and burns slowly and releases no obnoxious fumes.
This environmentally friendly does not affect the bees in any way. Well coated with combustible elements, it works well with fire to give long-lasting energy for smoke pumping.
Mann Lake HD554 KwikStart Smoker Pellet
This Mann Lake product simply lights up with a flame and works effectively and quickly in starting a smoker. It ignites instantly and requires no constant air blows. This easy to use and efficient pallets saves time when being used.
It does not require external fuel or oil – the pallet alone does the job and keeps the smoker on for a long time.
BeeCastle 54 PCS/lot Bee Hive Smoker Pellet (1 Pack)
This Smoker Pallet has a pleasant smell and comes coated with bactericidal, antibacterial and antiviral components. It has no bad effects and burns slowly and efficiently. This highly economical pellet needs no additional fueling material to get it lighted up.
It will work well with your smoker for a long-lasting smoke without the need for constant relighting.
Gooday 54 PCS/lot Bee Hive Smoker Solid Fuel Beekeeping Tool Chinese Medicinal Herb Smoke Honey Bee – Specific Smoke Bombs, Single Size: 18mm x 30mm
Gooday 54 PCS/lot Beehive smoker is a solid fuel pellet. Each pellet is simply the size of a thimble and only a handful of them will generate enough smoke for one hive inspection.
The pellet burns quickly and stays lit for a long time. Made from the Chinese Medicinal herb, it has no negative effect when touched or when you inhale the smoke. It saves time and energy.
Wood Pellets Bee Smoker Fuel, With Bonus Beekeeping Smoker Fire Starters, 2 Pound Bag
The Wood Pellets Bee Smoker Fuel comes with a bonus of the beekeeping smoker fire starters. It’s highly combustible and stays lit for a long period. Perfect for every smoker and gives off no offensive smells.
The inexpensive and long-lasting pellet works alone without the need for extra fuel sources. It comes coated with inflammable materials yet lights up easily.
Quality Smoker Bee Hive Fuel 1 Lb BAG
Made of cotton fibres, starting fire comes easy. The smoker fuel is appropriate for all kinds of beehive smokers. It stays up for long after getting lit up.
It generates health harmless smoke and also does not harm the bee colony. It produces no explosive sparks that can cause panics or disturbances.
How to Light A Bee Smoker:
Lighting a bee begins with starting a small fire at the bottom of the smoker, add other flammable materials to increase the flame. From the bottom, the fire burns for longer and would not go out easily. Hereunder lies the detailed guide to lighting the smoker:
- You need to start with an empty smoker. Now, place your starters or a small amount of kindling in the can and light it up. Ensure you keep the fire from going out before you pack it with other materials.
- Pump the bellows for a while to increase the fire and to keep it from going out. After that add some kindling and pack it down carefully. When packing the kindling down, do it gently because hard packing will make the fire go out.
- Keep pumping the bellows and continue adding kindling. Pack the fire with more kindling to keep it going. When you have the fire up and running, add larger fuel pieces. Note that the more you pack the fuel down, the better. Too little packing makes the fire burn too fast and out whereas, too much packing will make it smother.
- Once your smoker starts burning well enough, it should remain burning for a long time on its own. You can occasionally pump the bellows to keep it burning. Also, occasionally do check the smoker to ensure it has enough fuel left, if not then add more fuel.
How to Use the Bee Smoker:
Now that the smoker is lit, your next question will be: How would it be used on the hive? Well, first you need to know that you must take it easy as a beginner. Do not overwhelm your hive with smoke.
Many beginners behave like bug exterminators taking on their hive as if they are fumigating roaches! Nah, do not do that, smoking the hive is just sending a message to the bees to take certain actions.
Smoking the Hive
Experts advised that you start slow by applying one or two puffs of smoke close to the hive entrance. The airflow will help the smoke disperse through the hive quickly, hence wait like a minute or two. With that application, the bees will quickly react and take some actions.
After that open the hive and puff a little more smoke to it. Recall, smoke acts as a sedative to bees and not a smokescreen, so apply it sensibly. Once the bees have smelt the smoke, they become calm and no longer see you as a treat.
Now you should see the bees disappear within the frames giving you room to start working. As you begin your work within the hive, ensure you keep the smoker from the bees – you don’t want to overwhelm them with smoke.
Besides over-smoking, keeping the smoker away from the bees helps prevent them from running into the hot metal and get killed in the process. Do keep the smoker away from inflammable materials to avoid fire outbreak.
As you work, if bees keep bumping into you, puff some smoke around your bee suit to keep them away. Do keep the smoker not too far from you because you will still need to use it if you need to go deeper into the hive.
How to Clean a Bee Smoker:
To ensure your bee smoker works efficiently, you need to take certain maintenance steps. At some point after prolonged use, your new bee smoker will not work as good as it was when you just bought it.
You may observe that when you light it and pumped it as if your life depends on it, it disappointingly releases little smoke. Well, do not throw away to buy a new one because if you do, you will have to repeat the process.
Now the simple solution to the problem happens to be simple maintenance which involves cleaning! Cleaning will make your smoker work as new and this can be done a couple of times a year. With that routine cleaning, the smoker will stay good for a long time and below you can see the simple steps to it.
Start With The Inside Of The Smoker
Open the smoker and use a sturdy screwdriver to scrap around the lid to make opening and closing seamless. Also, observe the hole where the smoke comes out and clear it with the screwdriver or any other available tool.
Get The Grate Off
Ensure you remove the crud from the can to make it easy for the grate to come out. Pick a long needle nosed-pliers and put one nose into each of the two holes near the edge and pull.
Alternatively, you can use a bent wire, fit it in the hole close the edge and pull it up. Once out, use a metal brush to scrape off all the soot and carbon that plugged the grate. Also, use a pointed tool or round file of the proper size to clean the inside of the holes one after the other.
Clean Inside The Can
After removing the grate, you will find debris and soot which you must remove by scraping. Do a thorough job inside the can by ensuring debris and carbon deposits are all scraped off.
Clean The Air Tube
Inside the can, you will see the air tube which often gets blocked with carbon. It must be clean and this cannot be done effectively without removing the bellow.
To get the bellow out, remove the four nuts holding it to the smoker. Add penetrating oil to make it easy to get off because rust on the nuts causes screws to strip off. After removing the nuts, take apart the bellows from the smoker, then clean the tube meticulously.
Put The Smoker Back Together
Place the grate back inside the can carefully allowing a leg on either side of the inlet tube. Next, replace the bellows by carefully tightening the four nuts. After tightening all loose parts, test the smoker to see how good it runs now.
Types of Fuels:
Smoking fuels can be categorized into three and in this section, we deeply considered them one after the other, viz:
Starters are materials that light easily and stay lit for a long time for the kindling to catch. Some of the materials that fit this description include a loosely balled sheet of newspaper, a rolled-up strip of cardboard or a pinecone.
From the word starters, these get the fire started – just light them up and throw them into the can. After that, you can now lay the kindling on top of them. Starters have air pockets in their layers that keep the fire burning.
Kindling include small thin pieces of materials that light easily. Examples of such include pine needles, lint and wood shavings. The kindling must not burnout faster than necessary, it must be able to hold out enough before the main fuel comes in.
The main fuel happens to be larger pieces of kindling which include small twigs, wood chips and more kindling. The fuel material does not catch fire easily but will burn for a longer time. 
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Hope The Smokes Will Not Blind My Bees?
A: You must know that the bees still see you even with the smoke. The smoke does not affect their vision, it only sedates them to give you room to work.
Q: Why Is My Smoker Not Smoking Well Like When I Just Bought It?
A: One thing could be wrong with your smoker; it has carbon deposits and soot on the inside which block airflow. The solution is to open and clean it. Read about how to clean your smoker from the post.
Q: I Tend To Over Smoked My Hive, What Are The Effects?
A: Over smoking, the hive poses danger on your bees. It could lead to deaths and also leave carbon and soot deposit in the hive and the honey.
Q: What Smoke Alternative Can I Use?
A: If you have allergies regarding smoke, here are some smoke alternatives you can try out include Beekeeper’s Liquid smoke and Sugar Spray.
Why not try your hands on any of the reviewed items and use in your hive the next time you want to work on your hive. With this equipment handy, harvesting and other activities come easy.
We hope you enjoy your next harvest.
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