Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The honey tastes a bit smokey or "smoke gets in your hive"

May I ask what the point is of smoking the bees? Do they think that there's a fire so they all run round in panic or do they like smoking and think they are being cool like some people idiots I know. Oops, wrong hobby horse.

How much smoke is enough. I heard one beekeeper say they don't use smoke, and yes, they do get stung. The reason he doesn't like smoke is that the smoke permeates through their clothing and isn't that a bad look. ;-)

The smoke calms the bees, not because of the smoke but because of the sugar high they get...all chill out. A little smoke tells them something isn't right so they gorge on honey in preparation for an exit. Too much smoke and they will just get agitated, buzz loudly and may look for something to express frustration on. A few puffs into the hive entrance should do. Smoking the hands can keeps the hands free of bees (so does keeping them clean and honey free). Although I would like to get some more opinions on this in the comments below.

A few years ago, while my wife was going through the hive I would pump smoke wildly at all the flying bees because I had been told that the smoke calms them down. They normally just ignored me, while poor Jane coughed and splutter her way through the hive. Then I went the other way and didn't even light the smoker. At the end of the honey season the bees need to be smoked as they rightly think you are taking their honey. Also some bees are more aggressive than others so it all depends on the hive temperament.

Ellen and super helpful hubby, Tom (not their real names) were inspecting the hives as usual. Ellen going through the hive and Tom continuous smoking anything that moved. Ellen pull out a frame of honey to extract. All the while Tom is busy smoking all the bees off the frame. Some coughing bees decided to leave but most were pressed face down into the honey of the uncapped portion. This only made Tom more vigorous in smoking the last bees away.
Later, in the kitchen Ellen tastes her newly won honey. "Put your finger in the honey and tell me what you can taste?".
Tom goes "Hmm... that's nice". Then he stops and he goes "It's not like last years. It definitely tastes different".
"Does that taste like smoke to you?"
"Arr, yes it does." Tom takes another finger swipe of honey. The light slowly becoming visible on Tom's face with his finger still stuck in his mouth.
The wee bowl of honey sitting on the bench is for Tom to have on his toast until it is all used up. Ellen doesn't think he is going to run a muck with the smoker any more.


1 comment:

  1. Hi
    Have been through all this when I began beekeeping. Fortunately one does it only once.
    It is true that only a few puffs of cool smoke is needed. I believe the smoke interferes with the hive pheromones and that confuses the bees causing the bees to lose interest in defending the hive.