Lighting and Using a Smoker

Why use a smoker?

The use of smoke causes to things to happen, both of which are beneficial to the beekeeper. First, the smoke masks the alarm scent bees emit to warm other bees about dangers to the hive (like a human taking the roof off their house). Without the warning bees will be less defensive. The second thing smoke does is make the bees believe there is a fire nearby and that the hive may be in danger. The response in the bees to go gorge on honey, as they may have to fly away and create a new home somewhere else. So a number of the bees are busy eating honey and less defensive.

What can be used a smoker fuel?

There are many types of fuel that can be used in your smoker. Here in Northeast Wisconsin there is an abundance of fallen pine needles which work very well. Other materials include pine cones, newspaper, cardboard, pelleted fuel, cotton waste, etc.. You can use pretty much anything that is combustible. Just don’t use anything that might be toxic-to you or your bees.

How does one light a smoker?

First, gather your materials. The smoker, an ignition source, flammable materials, hive tool, and fire extinguisher or water. Start by lighting something easy, like balled up newspaper or a used egg carton. Put it in the smoker and give it a few puffs. When it is burning well add more materials over it (pine needles, pellets, etc) and give it a few more puffs to get the material lite. Use you hive tool to gently press the materials down in the smoker. This packs the materials for a longer burn and can sterilize the hive tool if hot enough. Add more materials, pack, add more materials until full-all the while puffing away to ensure it stays lit. You are looking for a cool, white smoke and, for sure, no flames or embers flying out the nozzle which could injure your bees or start a fire.

So now, how does one use the smoker?

Start by giving a few puffs at the entrance to the hive. Remove the top cover and give a couple of puffs through the hole in the inner cover. Crack the inner cover and give a few more puffs. That should be sufficient to initially open the hive. Smoke the bees again if they are getting aggressive or the sound changes. There are times when the bees are just all wound up and no amount of smoke will calm them down. In that case, it is best to put the hive back together and come back another day

An article that is a bit more in depth on smoking bees.

A cursory overview of using a smoker from Mann Lake.

Using smoker in Kenya – almost identical to using it in Northeast WI.

Club Activities in 2022, see what makes the club exceptional

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September 2022– A big thanks to Bob Michiels and Tom Cashman for covering the Club booth at the Green Bay Botanical Garden Fall Fair. According the Tom, “The weather cooperated and it didn’t rain on us. Our booth was located way down from the main building but the people made it down and found us.   They liked looking at the observation hive and were buying stuff off the table like crazy.  I hope we go again next year.”

April 2022– Ever wanted to see little bundles of energy learning about bees and pollinators. Julie Mazzoleni and Bob Michiels had a fun day exploring pollinators with over 50 first grade students in Oconto, WI.  The students were fascinated about honey bee “SUPERPOWERS”  and became experts at the waggle dance (no pictures unfortunately).

April 2022 – The East branch of the Brown County WI library system hosted an information gathering session for more than 10 young, first time beekeepers. Dave Elsen, Bob Michiels, and Wayne Steigelman added to the attendees excitement as their knowledge about what it means to be a beekeeper was expanded. These new beekeepers left with a better understanding of how the Brown County Beekeepers Association is a resource throughout the season.

January 2022– Julie Mazzoleni, Bob Michiels, and Wayne Steigelman met with the Gardeners Club of Green Bay (an affiliate of Gardeners club of America). The presentation focused on honey bees, native bees and other pollinators, the threats they encounter in today’s environment and the actions gardeners can take to protect all pollinators. The Garden club members were also treated to a honey tasting event where they were able to sample 5 different flavors of honey.


Introduction to Beekeeping – Basics For Someone New to Bees

Bee Biology by Sara and Dave

The Brown County Beekeeping Association is happy to present INTRODUCTION TO BEEKEEPING. Learn the essentials of beginning beekeeping!! The class will be presented in three sessions described below.

Prior to January 14th, 2023 — view three video to prepare for the in person class. No more than 2 hours of video to watch
January 14th, 2023 — 8:00am to 2:00pm (in-person, location: TBD, near Green Bay Botanical Gardens)
and May 20th, 2023 8:00am to 10:00am (at the hive, location: Green Bay Botanical Gardens). Click for a map to the location.

How Much:
$50 for an individual, $40 for additional family members

What: An understanding of:

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Looking for an alternative to Roundup to kill weeds?

As beekeepers we don’t ever want to do anything to harm our bees. Using the weed killer Roundup has been reported to be harmful to bees. There is an article discussing this topic at which is very balanced and fair.

The recipe for homemade week killer is simple to make with everyday ingredients.

Homemade Week Killer

1/2 gallon of vinegar
1/2 cup of salt
2 tablespoon of dish soap

If you would like to know more, read the full article.