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General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #11060  by Caroline
 02 Jun 2021, 18:40
I'm surprised you haven't heard this one before. I hear it all the time. I was told this when I first started beekeeping, but I have never agreed with it as it didn't make sense to me!

Smoke interferes with the bees' primary form of communication, smell. The smoke reduces the ability of the antennae to detect the alarm/invader signal. The effect is reversible and the responsiveness of bees’ antennae gradually returns.

I was taught that you should always smoke the entrance of a hive and then wait a few minutes before opening 'because the bees think there's a fire......' . I only use smoke to move bees out of the way or if they are getting a bit stroppy. At one time I could open, inspect and close three hives without using the smoker once (although it was always to hand). I tested the 'smoking at the entrance' theory a few times, and each time it just seemed to make my nice calm bees agitated!

With my current colonies I am finding I need to use smoke a little more but still not a great deal. I always make sure the smoker is omitting a cool smoke by testing it on my forearm; if it's too hot for my skin the it's too hot for the bees. I find a very fine mist of water will calm things down if they're a bit 'flighty'.
 #11075  by Spike
 05 Jun 2021, 11:53
The instructions seem to be to smoke the bees from the entrance so they move upwards, and then lift off the crown board and smoke them from the top so they go down!
 #11076  by JoJo36
 05 Jun 2021, 14:53
I heard that "smoking makes the bees gorge on honey making them more sedate" and I really thought it was true the same as a little smoke calms them down??!!
I always puff smoke on my gloves if I have been stung to stop the "stinger bee" sending out pheromones to the others to "finish me off"??!! Seems to work:)
 #11122  by Bobbysbees
 10 Jun 2021, 14:14
the smoking the entrance only seems to drive the bees up the hive and you end up with a load of the older flying bees being pushed up into the supers to cause you all sorts of fun when you open the lid. Smoking under the crown board and leaving them for a couple of minutes only seems to push them all down into the brood box so they fly up at you getting more and more pissy the further you get down and seems to make it harder to find the queen (supposing that what your doing requires it.)
I use as little smoke as I can get away with normally just to shift them off the frame lugs so my nice thick leather gloves and ham fistedness doesnt squash too many. mainly i us it to smoke my self ie. my face if I get vail happy headbutters .
My good girls let me get away with next to no smoke and just a water spray but I always have the smoker lit just to smoke my gloves if I accidently pinch one when handling the frames.
 #11128  by NigelP
 10 Jun 2021, 18:52
You guys/Gals need to try and keep calmer bees. My bad girl apiary site is the only one I need to use any smoke.
Not using any smoke you will still see bees gorging on honey. It's a reaction to disturbing the hive, not smoke. But Beekeepers insist it's the real reason...ho hum.
 #11129  by NigelP
 10 Jun 2021, 19:01
Bobbysbees wrote:
10 Jun 2021, 14:14
o my nice thick leather gloves
Without disrespect , ditch your leather and use nitryl gloves.
3 main reasons. Bees find it much harder to get a purchase on a shiny surface to inflict their sting. Basically their legs need to grip something before they can dig their sting into you. You will find aggressive bees hitting your hand but unable to get a purchase on them.
You will also feel any sting you get and can remove it quickly before alarm pheromones spreads too far. 3. You are essentially much more sensitive.
But it's a confidence thing, you need to get the confidence that something very thin will prevent you getting and feeling more more stings than something much thicker.
The problem with thick leather gloves is bees have excellent foot grips and easily sting but you don't notice the stings....and they accumulate and so you eventually end up wafting around gloves covered in alarm pheromones. So every hive you go to ends up encouraging even the most docile bees in your apiary to attack you.

The few times I use thick gloves are for the real hive from hell where you know it's going to be painful despite what you put on your hands. I have pulled and counted over 300 stings from some of these monsters.

if you are not sure about this try putting marigold gloves (extra large_) over your leather gloves to see the difference. I'm assuming everyone who uses leather gloves removes the stings from previous inspection before next use...
 #11132  by Caroline
 10 Jun 2021, 23:30
NigelP wrote:
10 Jun 2021, 19:01
Bobbysbees wrote:
10 Jun 2021, 14:14
o my nice thick leather gloves
But it's a confidence thing, you need to get the confidence that something very thin will prevent you getting and feeling more more stings than something much thicker.
I started beekeeping with bare hands, no problems for first couple of years, then I developed an unpleasant reaction to stings, requiring antibiotics each time. I had two options, to give up beekeeping (as suggested by GP) or to wear gloves. Never worn leather ones but did try the 'rubber' ones sold by suppliers (which I didn't like and found too cumbersome), then various brands of 'washing up gloves'. After trial and error I settled on 'Marigold Extra Tough Household Gloves' (black in colour); last for several seasons, easily washed, good grip, long cuffs, and not overly thick so you can still feel what you are doing (you know if you are accidently squashing a bee).

A recent (rare) sting just reached the skin so that I momentarily felt it, but the actual stinger stayed in the glove and not my finger.
 #11133  by JoJo36
 11 Jun 2021, 08:10
My hands get very irritated by just nitrile gloves only so I always use a pair of white cotton gloves underneath the nitrile ones which give you plenty of "feel" but find my hands don't itch like they do without.
The cotton ones can be washed and a cheap pack of them will last for ages. The nitrile ones have gone up in price since covid but they do last if you buy a box load of them.
 #11138  by Bobbysbees
 11 Jun 2021, 15:19
I'v done the marigolds a few times when I , for reasons of hapless/absent mindedness can only find one of my leather gloves but i have hands like shovels and even XL ones are on the tight side for my liking. I have really serious eczema on my ands and they are not fans of sweating in rubber gloves but at a pinch I can get by .
As for the nitryl ones as you say Nigel, They may not get a good purchase but, its a confidence thing bound with the fact that I have Asperger's and freak out at unexpected things and my hands sweat like blazes in them.
I might try them with the cotton gloves under them or the marigold and see how I go.
Thing is my other hobby is guitar building and playing, and the fact that my finger tips are often shredded from practicing or my eczema or more often me being a cluts with my tools I really don't fancy "feeling any stings " I get if I don't have to lol ( I've seen me play a gig with plasters over all of the fingers on my left hand.
It might make me a slower and more focused bee keeper though.
 #11146  by NigelP
 11 Jun 2021, 19:15
Totally understood Bobby.
To my way of thinking leather gloves attract stings and hence build up of "attack" pheromones when inspecting next hive. So rubber gloves over leather has to be the way to go in some cases.