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I'm in Texas where there is a serious drought. Because of the drought and burn ban in effect, a few months ago, I stopped smoking the bees when opening the hive. I normally take out a few frames to check on brood, etc. I was surprised to find that the bees act pretty much the same with or without smoke. When I would smoke them they would go down the frames but not for long. It seems there are the same number in the air and pinging at me whether I smoke them or not. I always wear a full suit and gloves because my skin is pretty sensitive to stings.
 

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I have worked bees without smoke. It aint bad starting off but if you got a bunch of hives by the time you get to the end you got about every mad bee in the area on ya
 

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I look through mine all the time with out smoke (at least until the end of summer and fall), most cut outs only get smoke in the beginning or if I am wanting to move bees around.
 

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I am in Texas also, and I haven't used smoke this season. My smoker is not working right. I have learned that suiting up is always a good idea.You never know what you'll find until you open the hive. I found out the hard way.
Cool smoke is good to have handy, of course, and works well---I'll be buying a new smoker this week. Until then, I'll continue to be slow and deliberate as I work each hive....suited up, certainly.
LtlWilli
 

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without a doubt keeping control of your smoker is important. there is without a doubt a high risk with smokers during this kind of season. I think ALL new bee keepers should light their smoker every time they inspect a hive just to obtain the practice of lighting a smoker... which is not as easy as some folks seem to think??? thin sugar syrup in a small spray bottle with a bit of 'mint' like oil can somewhat be substituted for a smoker (on a small scale and not recommended if you are working numbers of hives).
 

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tecumseh said:
I think ALL new bee keepers should light their smoker every time they inspect a hive just to obtain the practice of lighting a smoker...
Every spring when newbees are anxiously awaiting their packages/nucs, I always recommend that they practice with their smokers beforehand. I tell them they need to be able to light it, get it burning and then set it down for 15-20 minutes and NOT have it go out. Many times the bees are gentle and the smoker just sits there. Then you open a pissy hive, or drop a frame, and you reach for the smoker as the bees come boiling out... and that's a bad time to find your smoker has gone out.
 

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Maybe I'm paranoid, but after being coated in a solid layer of stinging bees a few times, I smoke the hives EVERY time I go in them. Even when you wear a suit, the bees that sting it still die.
 

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When they are looking up at me from the frame top bar, they get a puff. I judge the temperment by the sound but keep the smoker in reserve. I would not recommend my way to any beginner. Smoke the entrance or bottom screen, then smoke the top. If they fly at you, puff them back.
 

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I've tried going in with no smoke and have been met with opposition almost every time I didn't use smoke.I smoke every time I inspect from now on.
 

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my bro Iddee writes:
Maybe I'm paranoid

tecumseh:
nope just experienced.

ps... thanks for the elaboration Indy. that was nice and concise and too the point.
 

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If we're doing something quick like exchanging hive top feeders, where we don't have to move the hive bodies, we don't smoke. It's a pain in the behind to keep that thing going. I've been eye-ing those smokers with the automatic lighters, but it costs a pretty penny. Has anyone used one?
 

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tecumseh said:
I think ALL new bee keepers should light their smoker every time they inspect a hive just to obtain the practice of lighting a smoker... which is not as easy as some folks seem to think?
Very good advice. I have always carried my smoker with me but don't always use it. Sitting it down, ready if needed, is usually the way i handle my inspections but I only have two hives and they are separated by 100 yards or so.
 

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indy writes:
Then you open a pissy hive, or drop a frame, and you reach for the smoker as the bees come boiling out... and that's a bad time to find your smoker has gone out.

tecumseh:
kind of the murphy's law of smokers?
 

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I have had an idea for a smoker modification........there needs to be a small trap door near the bottom, about 1" in diameter, just big enough to get the end of your torch into so you can lite the bottom of the fuel instead of opening the top and lighting the top of the fuel. The trap door would have to close fairly tight to keep the smoke in when you puff the bellows.
 

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Forget the trap door, hold a propane torch to the outside of the smoker. It will not go out until the fuel is gone.
I smoke as little as possible to keep the comb clean and reduce the bees running. When I am teaching I either watch closely for defensive signs or smoke every couple frames.
 

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Got to this post late

But the perfect answer is : 1 cigar after tennis on Thursday :D :D lol


as for the hives , light smoke if I can get away with it, if they get pissy with me I bomb them....till they back off.
 
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