Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Smok'in Smoker

We have two smokers.

Dad seemed to naturally gravitate to the job of smoker lighter, and smoker holder.

Me, I prefer to hold the bees.

The first smoker I got was from F.W. Jones a beekeeping company in Quebec, Ontario. They've been around since 1878 and they make a fine smoker.

They come in many sizes but if buying your first one I would suggest getting one that has the basket around it. That'll prevent burning your hands.

Also consider it's size and weight. If you need to hold it for a while and squeeze the puffer it can get heavy.

I saw a nice smaller Dadant smoker and it found its way home with me as well. They're another reputable company that have been around a long time.


Have you created a smoker kit? You probably have. Here's ours (as learned in the Guelph Intro to Beekeeping Course).

Use a good sealing pail and stock it with pine chips (animal pet bedding purchased at the local pet shop is ideal). Pine chips make a pleasant smelling smoke. Also add newspaper to the kit.

Finally add a lighter--but here's where it gets clever. Tie a cord to the handle of the pail and the lighter. That way it won't wonder off just when the bees get mad and you need to relight the smoker. No one wants a missing lighter when the bees are mad.

Once the smoker is lit and billowing nicely, before you close the lid, grab a good handful of greenery like grass and lay it on top.
That will act as your spark screen to prevent the smoker billowing hot ash or sparks into your wooden/wax hive. (I don't even want to think about how horrible that would be).
[Here's Dad in his yellow bee shirt. He's participating in Clovermead's smoker lighting competition].
Another trick I learned from a fellow beekeeper is when you're done with the smoker, take some grass or greenery and wad it up and plug the spout.
Why? It'll help to snuff the smoker out and once it's snuffed it'll relight faster next time with the leftover material inside.
And finally, if you're leaving the smoker in the open bed of the truck while you drive away, make sure it's secure in a metal/fireproof container. And turn the spout to face the tailgate. That way driving wind won't run down the spout and relight your smoker (if you did the grass plug that shouldn't be an issue).
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