Recently there has been internet chat suggesting that smoking the entrance of a hive is a bad idea as it drives the bees inside and upsets them. Instead, the hive should have smoke wafted over the top of the frames once the hive has been opened.
I haven’t lit a smoker for years, instead using a sprayer of liquid smoke and for the last few occasions I have adopted the method suggested above with no problems.
Today I visited my apprentice, Sarah, at Bee Happy Plants where I have a new top bar hive into which the bees were transferred a month ago from its rotting predecessor. After much chatter about plants and bees and a project she has in mind to install indoor hives in a yet-to-be-built barn for pollen collection and study, we set up again the top bar hive I built a couple of years ago with a mesh floor so she could check fallen mites and (her speciality) pollen. She had found that bees occasionally found their way beneath the mesh and became trapped so she has been adapting it to make it bee proof.
Then we opened my occupied top bar hive. I had my liquid smoke sprayer with me but, without mentioning it to Sarah or my friend Ann who was with us, I deliberately left it hanging unused on my belt. We went through the hive comb by comb. It is the most prosperous hive I’ve seen this year but there was little space at the rear of the hive so we moved everything forward so, effectively we went through it twice without using ‘smoke’. They were very calm and nobody was stung. We all had bare hands.
Sarah spotted the queen, large, dark and unmarked. Last time I saw the marked queen she was about 3 years old so I presume she was superseded last Autumn and have now made a new record card for that hive.
While there, we also went through Sarah’s TBH, again needing to shuffle the bars. We used the same smokeless technique at first but on a couple of occasions the bees became a little agitated and so I applied the spray. Again nobody was stung.