Tips on Using a Smoker

As beekeepers, we often carry around a hot canister of live coals, otherwise known as a bee smoker. We use a bee smoker regularly in our operation. Here are a few tips on getting the best use of the smoker and smoker fuel without causing a grass fire.

Once, at a bee pickup, a customer lit their smoker, then locked the keys in their minivan with the lit smoker. The entire cab filled with dense smoke as they waited for a spare set of keys. This event, and some others, inspired this post.

Commercial beekeepers often transport their lit smoker from one apiary to another. We have had success at limiting the smoke in the cab by tipping the smoker on its side (with the smoker canister guard in place), or putting a plug of green grass in the nozzle. Both of these slow the draft of air moving through the smoker and extend the burn time of your fuel. If left long enough, both will extinguish the fire.

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In fact, we think the best way to extinguish a smoker is to leave the burning fuel inside the smoker to burn itself out using one of these methods.

It is not a good idea to open the smoker and empty the burning contents as this could cause burns or a grass fire. Accidentally dropping the smoker can spill the contents and cause a fire as well. (Yes, we’ve seen this too. Now Stan carries a fire extinguisher.)

We think the “guard” on the smoker canister is essential to protect us from burns and to prevent wildfires.

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