For many non-beekeepers, it might seem odd that one would want to use smoke on a perfectly healthy hive. In this article, we'll look at the Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker, and why it could very well be your new best friend when it comes to beekeeping. We'll also check out some similar models to compare it with.
Real beekeepers know to use smoke while producing healthy home-raised honey, though to some it may seem counter-intuitive. After all, smoke can be deadly to humans within minutes in the case of house fires. So why would we want to use smoke on our precious colony of winged pollinators? We'll start with some basic information for brand new apiarists (bee keepers, in technical jargon).
Why Use Smokers?
Beekeepers have been using smokers for generations for a good reason. Without using smoke, the bees will send out an alarm pheromone when you attempt to disrupt the hive. Some say it smells like bananas, so think of it this way: The bees go bananas when they perceive a threat to the colony.
By using smoke, the beekeeper can interrupt the bee's alarm signal, preventing them from forming a unified defense.
That means less possibility of stings for you, even while you wear a protective bee suit. It also means fewer casualties for your bees, which will die if they attempt to sting an intruder.
When honeybees smell smoke, they react in a surprisingly intelligent way. They go into survival mode, trying to save as much honey as they can by gorging themselves on it. That way, they will have the vital energy stores they need to fly away and form a new colony if a fire destroys the hive. The bees become so full of honey that they appear to be calm and non-aggressive. They're really just weighed down with full abdomens and following their instincts to save the hive. It's quite remarkable when you think about it.
Bee smokers -- such as the Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker -- keep you and your fellow beekeepers sting-free while also making sure the bees are safe. It's a win-win as unlikely as it may seem. Once you finish using the smoker, the smoke blows away, and the colony can return to a normal state relatively fast. There is no permanent damage as long as you follow the routine procedure and keep yourself from getting carried away. For example: Don't let flames come out the top and scorch the wings of your bees. When used with common sense, the smoker prevents considerable damage to you and your hive.
Considering these enormous advantages, you see why beekeepers see beehive smokers as an absolute necessity. So let's look at some of the models on the market, and discuss why you might consider buying them. We'll take a lot of the guesswork out for you, so you can be confident in making your purchase.
Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker
The Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker comes with starter fuel to get you going right out of the box.
Smoke Pellets: The Smoker Fuel
- Bonus 5 smoker fire starters, Just light, Drop in smoker, And then slowly add fuel on top, Quick and Easy
- 2 pound bag is a nice size and weight to carry in the field or add to a beekeepers travel kit
- Compressed wood pellets are a great smoker fuel because they burn clean and keep smoldering longer
The three included smoke pellets or logs are a nice bonus since they are very easy to use and clean up quickly after use. After putting the inner burn tray in your Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker, merely hold a flame to one end of the pellet and it will catch fire quickly. Toss it in the bottom of the smoker on top of the perforated tray. That way airflow will come up from underneath the burning material. In this case, the manufacturer says mugwort is the main ingredient. It's an aromatic and edible plant native to Asia, North America, and Northern Europe. It's been seen as an almost magical healing herb in ancient China for centuries, and as a noxious weed to many over its extensive range.
These smoke pellets may be to your liking, or you could go the more basic route of using slightly dampened pine needles, dryer lint, a piece of old denim fabric, pieces of cardboard, or even paper towels. This part is really up to you and how you prefer to work with fire. You can add mugwort, sage or even fancy things like grapefruit leaves and creosote bush to give a touch of perfume to the smoke. It could also may help control varroa mites. In the end, your bees probably won't care one bit how the smoke smells, but your family and friends just might.
You will no doubt appreciate the polished and welded stainless steel construction of the Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker. Although your smoker won't always have the glorious shine once you've used it a few times, the quality means that it will last for many uses and won't rust or corrode. There's even a smart-looking laser etched logo.
Metal Fall And Heat Cage
The welded metal fall and heat cage, also called a guard, is perfect for allowing you to hang your smoker from an object, and it also keeps the hot smoker body off the ground if you set it down. It protects your hands from burns and helps prevent you from accidentally dropping it. While a few advanced beekeepers are confident enough to go without gloves when they use the smoker, it is wise to use beekeeper protective gloves for most people even with this feature.
Perforated Smoke Pellet Stand
This removable internal "burn tray" is a round piece of stainless steel with holes to allow oxygen to come up from underneath your burning smoke pellets. Put it inside the smoker before you add the fuel. There are metal tabs on the bottom that can be bent downward to lift the surface off the bottom of the smoker. This piece makes it easier to clean up the unit after use and keeps the fire burning consistently.
Hive Mounting Hook
The sturdy and secure metal loop on the top of the Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker will allow you to easily store the unit when not in use. After you have doused the fire with water and rinsed off the unit, you can hang it up to cool down and dry.
The company states that the bellows are leather, which will allow for flexible and durable use. You will squeeze the bellows closed, and the action of opening and closing will force just the right amount of air over the fire inside the smoker. This action will be critical while starting the fire, and for getting the flow of smoke going when it's time to approach the hive. It may take some practice at first, sort of like building your first campfire. Then you'll get the hang of it, and it will be easier the next time.
The price of the Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker ranges from $$ to $$. Contact the manufacturer for warranty information.
You can buy it directly from the manufacturer at goodlandbeesupply.com or through Amazon, where you can take advantage of prime shipping. It weighs approximately two pounds, which is the heaviest of the models we'll review.
Compared To Other Models
Next, we'll take a look at some of the key features of the Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker as well as some of the comparable competitors.
Goodland Bee Supply Smoker
- Includes 3 Smoke Logs | Smoke Pallets main ingredient is Mugwort
- Polished and Welded Stainless Steel Construction With Laser Etched Logo
- Welded Metal Fall and Heat Cage To Keep Hands From Burning and Protection From Being Dropped
What sets the Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker apart is the distinctive domed top with a sturdy hinge and a tea-pot-like nozzle spout. The extra space inside the dome means more room for burning material inside the chamber and more flow of air to facilitate the smoke.
The smoker chamber is ample at 4 inches by 11 inches. The perforated internal burn tray is removable, which is great for keeping the unit clean inside. The spacing is also important to prevent the kindling from blocking the intake hole. Otherwise, the fire could get snuffed out.
It received a customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Hoont Commercial Grade Bee Smoker
- BEEKEEPING BEE SMOKER - Bee smokers are an amazing beekeeping equipment that helps calm the bees and protect the...
- QUALITY CONSTRUCTION - Made with heavy duty stainless steel. Superior bellow makes smoking up super-easy and fast....
- EASY TO LIGHT - Features a quality heavy duty oxygen tray that assists in lighting the fire, by allowing air to...
This model measures roughly the same size as the Goodland Bee Supply model. It weighs less at 1.75 pounds. There is a hinged top shaped like a funnel with a mounting hook attached for hanging. The smoker is made of stainless steel and has bellows made from vinyl. It has a heavy duty oxygen tray inside, but it is unclear if it is removable.
The Hoont smoker varies in price from $$ to $$ and has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. You may contact the manufacturer directly for warranty information.
Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker
This smoker is also stainless steel with a funnel-shaped top like the Hoont smoker. It weighs 1.7 pounds and is 11 inches high. It's unclear what material makes up the bellows. It comes with a perforated removable firebase plate.
The Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker ranges in price from $$ to $$. The customer rating is 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Mann Lake HD540 Stainless Steel Smoker
- This smoker with guard features easy open lid tab and heavy duty hinge
- Made of heavy duty stainless steel material
- Lower bracket placement for burn-free fingers
This smoker measures 4 inches wide by 10 inches high. Mann Lake makes their smokers of heavy-duty stainless steel assembled in the United States. The unit weighs in at 1.81 pounds. The manufacturer states that it offers "lower bracket placement for burn-free fingers." This model offers a replaceable "Pro-Bellow" made of plastic and rubber. Order replacement bellows at the company website.
The Mann Lake Smoker ranges in price from $$ to $$. It has a customer rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. You may request a manufacturer’s warranty from customer service.
How We Reviewed The Smokers
We reviewed the beehive smokers based on similar size, customer reviews, materials used, and quality of construction. There are many models available, but if they had no customer reviews, we avoided them. The models we discussed range from the least expensive similar models to the most expensive on the market, aside from handmade types you could find on a site like Etsy.
Pros And Cons
Let's review the features that might help narrow down which model you pick.
Should You Try The Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker?
Now that we've looked at the Goodland Bee Supply 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker and some of the similar models available, we think you'll see that it's a great mid-range model. It has quality construction and all of the features a beginning or more advanced beekeeper wants. The other models offer similar features, with the Honey Keeper on the low end and the Mann Lake on the higher end of the market. You have a decent choice with any of these models. Which one do you think is the bee's knees for you?