One of the irritations I have with beekeeping and have mentioned more than once is that the equipment rarely comes with instructions and if it does, you need a magic elf from the fiery marshes of Bee Vale to decipher it. We used to jam pack our smoker with every type of natural fiber, light it with a brulee torch and hope for the best. But Mr. Neil found an article in Bee Culture on lighting a smoker and we thought we'd make a demo video...on the off chance some poor person is like us and thinks they need a new smoker. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKyd4_LvXB0[/youtube]
And for those new to the blog, you use a smoker around your beehives to misdirect their attention. They smell wood smoke and worry there might be a forest fire. They focus on eating honey (not the giant things rearranging their home) in case there is an actual forest fire and they need to abandon the hive with only enough food they can carry in their tiny bodies. Some beekeepers say they would rather work a hive with a smoker and no bee suit rather than the other way around.
You can also use the smell of the smoker to mask the bee pheromone released with a sting. The pheromone communicates to nearby bee, "Hey, something bad is here, sting it!" The smoke will mask that and prevent further stings.