Which bee smokers for beekeeping are best?
The sight of bees flitting in and out of a hive means that honey isn’t far behind. But harvesting that honey can agitate bees and make the task painful. To prevent stings and agitated bees, beekeepers use a bee smoker for beekeeping and honey harvesting.
For calming bees and blocking their sense of smell, beekeepers use a bee smoker to puff smoke into the hive for safe honey harvesting. For both beginning beekeepers and experienced apiarists, the Mann Lake Stainless Steel Smoker is a good choice.
What to know before you buy a bee smoker for beekeeping
Bee smokers are vessels that hold smoke-producing fuel such as wood or other dried material. The bee smoker has a nozzle that resembles the spout of a teapot. Beekeepers direct smoke into the bee box when collecting honey.
Bee smokers all look pretty similar and are generally made in the same way, but there are a few things to consider when selecting the bee smoker that works best for you and your bees.
Because you will essentially be holding a metal can filled with fire, you’ll want to look for a bee smoker that has a heat shield or cage to protect your hands.
Your bee smoker should be made with durability and safety in mind. You’ll light fuel to maintain a steady stream of smoke, and you need high-quality materials to withstand that.
The best bee smoker bodies are constructed of stainless steel. The bellows should be made of leather or rubber. Leather is the more traditional choice, but it can be difficult to squeeze at first. Which you choose is a matter of preference, but both protect against sparks.
You’ll want a bee smoker that is big enough to handle the number of hives you are working with. A 7-inch smoker is best for bee yards with fewer than 10 colonies if they are all located nearby.
For 10 or more colonies, a larger bee smoker will give you the quantity of smoke you need for as long as you need it. You’ll need a 10-inch bee smoker for this.
Even if you have just a few colonies, there is some advantage to a larger bee smoker. These are easier to light and keep lit — helpful for inexperienced beekeepers.
Ease of use
Your bee smoker should be easy to operate one-handed. This is crucial for opening a hive and adding smoke at the same time.
The handle of your bee smoker makes this possible. Some handles are a loop, and some are a hook. A loop is best for beekeepers with large hands or those who like to wear gloves, but choose whichever style is easiest for you.
Another feature that contributes to the ease of use is the security of the hinge on the bee smoker. Bee smokers have either pan hinges or folded sheet metal hinges. Pan hinges can be replaced when they wear out, but folded sheet metal hinges provide a more secure lid.
What to look for in a quality bee smoker for beekeeping
If you’re finished working your bees but the fuel is still smoking, a mounting hook attached to the bee smoker allows you to safely put up your smoker when you’re done. The material inside will burn itself out with no threat of fire.
How do you travel to multiple bee yards with a smoker that still has burning fuel? A metal smoker box means you can safely travel between yards without having to extinguish (and relight) your bee smoker at every stop. Even though these are made of metal with a tight-fitting lid, the metal smoker box still needs to travel outside of the passenger area of your vehicle.
The body of your bee smoker might be indestructible, but the bellows (and other parts) are not. Make sure you can purchase replacement parts to prolong the life of your smoker.
How much you can expect to spend on bee smoker for beekeeping
Bee smokers are all generally made of the same materials, but the quality and construction can vary widely. Expect to spend from $15-$75 for a bee smoker.
Bee smoker for beekeeping FAQ
How do you use a bee smoker?
A. Add natural materials to the fire chamber, then light them before you approach the hive. Add oxygen to help the fire burn by pumping the bellows.
As the fuel catches, continue to add more, pumping the bellows. Once the fire is established, pack more fuel into the fire chamber and close the top.
Continue to pump the bellows as needed to keep smoke flowing.
What smoker fuels should you use?
A. The best smoker fuels are natural materials. Pine needles, leaves, dried citrus peels and herbs provide long-lasting smoke that smells sweet. Some beekeepers buy pellets especially made for bee smokers.
It is important to avoid starter fuels such as gasoline. Not only are they dangerous, but they will burn quickly and not produce much smoke.
What’s the best bee smoker for beekeeping to buy?
Top bee smoker for beekeeping
Mann Lake Stainless Steel Smoker
What you need to know: When you have lots of hives to visit, choose this smoker.
What you’ll love: Easy to open and operate one-handed, this bee smoker is made of heavy-duty stainless steel. A heat shield protects your hands. The bellows is replaceable.
What you should consider: Some users had a hard time closing the lid.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top bee smoker for beekeeping for the money
Vivo Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker with Heat Shield
What you need to know: This bee smoker has all the features you need at an affordable price.
What you’ll love: Bees stay calmer with the cool smoke produced by this stainless steel beauty. A mounting hook makes for easy storage, and a heat shield protects fingers.
What you should consider: The bellows are artificial leather.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Goodland Bee Supply Bee Hive Smoker with 3 Pack of Smoker Fuel
What you need to know: This smoker produces plenty of smoke for larger bee yards.
What you’ll love: This smoker comes with fuel so you are ready to go as soon as you open the box. Cleanup is easy with a removable burn tray, and it’s big enough to make tons of smoke.
What you should consider: The lid is difficult to close.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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