If you purchase an independently reviewed item through our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.
Humans have mastered the art of taming bees, and one of the ways in which we have done so is by using a bee smoker. Smoke is widely used when working with bees because of the lulling effect it has on the little critters. It disrupts their natural defensive instinct so they won’t sting you, thus making it easy to work on the beehive. It can also help get to rid of some notorious hive pests such as the common varroa mite. That’s why bee smokers are such an important beekeeping equipment.
Any serious beekeeper understands the tremendous benefits associated with the bee smoker and cannot afford to survive without one. The tool has a rich history and has undergone various modifications and you can now get one that is near perfect. There are various types of bee smokers out there and thus it is pretty easy to get the right one for your business or hobby. In this article, we’ll discuss the best bee smokers out there for your money.
Standard Features of Bee Smokers
It goes without saying that to get in order to get the most out of your tool, you have to get the best bee smoker. In summary, buy a bee smoker that has these features:
- Heat protection cage to avoid getting burnt on your hands.
- Made of good quality and durable stainless steel material.
- Comes with a mounting hook so that you can hang it when it is not in use. It will also ensure it cools down safely after use.
- Easy to use since at times you might have to use it one-handed. It should also be easy to pump.
The simplistic design of the smoker may invoke the perception that it is a no-brainer to use. However, any smoker, whether homemade a bee smoker, or commercially designed, tends to be a bit tricky. The beekeeper has to instinctively know how much smoke to puff in. Too much smoke can be harmful to the bees, and too little is ineffective. Striking a balance between what is too much and too little is therefore a great challenge to most beekeepers, especially beginners. Another challenge associated with the bee smoker is the fact that it may go out when most needed if you do not use the best bee smoker fuels.
With that said, let’s get started with checking out our picks for the best bee smokers.
Overview of the Best Bee Smokers
9. BenefitBee Stainless Steel Beehive Smoker with Heat Shield
The BenefitBee Stainless Steel Beehive Smoker is a comprehensive and high-quality option for beekeepers of all levels. The kit comes with a stainless steel smoker, heat shield, leather bellows, and 54 smoker pellets, making it a convenient and well-rounded option for anyone interested in beekeeping.
One of the biggest pros of the BenefitBee Stainless Steel Beehive Smoker is its inclusivity. The kit comes with all the essential tools a beekeeper needs, including a smoker, heat shield, and smoker pellets. This makes it a comprehensive and convenient option for anyone just starting out or looking to upgrade their beekeeping setup.
Another pro of the BenefitBee Stainless Steel Beehive Smoker is its quality. The smoker is made from high-quality stainless steel and leather, ensuring its durability and longevity. The kit also comes with 54 smoker pellets, providing ample fuel for many hive inspections.
The design of the BenefitBee Stainless Steel Beehive Smoker is also a pro. The smoker is well-ventilated and constructed from stainless steel, making it a safe and efficient option for calming bees during hive inspections. The leather bellows are also well-made and provide excellent smoke distribution.
However, there are some cons to consider. One potential downside is the price. While the kit is comprehensive and high-quality, it may be more expensive than some other options on the market.
Another potential downside is the size of the smoker. While it is effective, it may be too large for some beekeepers to handle comfortably.Check Price
8. SunVara 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Smoker
The SunVara 11-Inch Stainless Steel Bee Smoker is a high-quality and durable bee smoker. It is made using stainless steel and has a heat shield. The smoker is constructed using wood bellows and synthetic leather. Assembly is largely done using rivets for reliability. This bee smoker is made in the USA. SunVara prides itself on making this bee smoker to high standards. The manufacturer promises you excellent performance of the smoker in your beekeeping operation. It lives up to the promise due to its effectiveness and ease of use. The smoke chamber on the smoker is large and works with most fuels used by beekeepers. It has a nicely angled spout with a large opening so it releases enough smoke per puff.
Working the SunVara bee smoker is intuitive for both beginner and experienced beekeepers. The smoker comes with a large handle that is not difficult to grip even with beekeeping gloves on your hands. Additionally, the bellows of this smoker are easy to operate. This smoker is ready for use immediately after you receive it. It requires no break-in runs. This smoker’s heat shield is of the wrap-around type, so you are sure it keeps you from accidentally burning yourself. The heat shield is installed around the smoke chamber.Check Price
7. Blisstime Stainless Steel Beehive Smoker with Heat Shield
The Blisstime Stainless Steel Beehive Smoker with Heat Shield is an excellent product that has received high praise from beekeepers of all levels. The smoker is well-designed and constructed with high-quality materials, making it durable and easy to use.
One of the biggest pros of the Blisstime Beehive Smoker is its stainless steel construction. This makes it resistant to rust and other forms of corrosion, ensuring that it will last for many beekeeping seasons. The heat shield is also a significant advantage, as it helps to protect the user from burns and other injuries.
Another pro of the Blisstime Beehive Smoker is its ease of use. The smoker is lightweight and easy to handle, making it an excellent option for anyone new to beekeeping or anyone who wants to save time and effort in maintaining their hive.
The design of the Blisstime Beehive Smoker is also a pro. The smoker is well-ventilated, allowing for a steady and consistent flow of smoke. This is essential for calming the bees and making it easier to inspect the hive.
However, there are some cons to consider. One potential downside is the size of the smoker. While it is lightweight and easy to handle, it may be too small for some beekeepers who need to smoke larger hives.
Another potential downside is the lack of additional accessories. While the smoker itself is of high quality, it does not come with any additional accessories such as fuel or a hook for hanging the smoker.Check Price
6. Foxhound Bee Company Large 12.5-inch Pro Stainless Steel Smoker
This is a stainless steel bee smoker with a tall heat chamber and an extra thick airflow plate. The Foxhound Bee Company Large 12.5-inch Pro Stainless Steel Smoker does not rust due to being made using stainless steel. It lasts long in your beekeeping operation giving you excellent results in calming honey bees. You get a reliable heat shield with this smoker and a green bellow. This smoker prides itself on the features that make it effective and safe for both you and your honeybees. It is a great addition to the beekeeping sets of both beginner and experienced beekeepers.
The Foxhound Bee Company Pro Stainless Steel Smoker measures 12.5 inches from the smoke outlet spout to the rear end of the fuel chamber. Its bellows are big with a length of 7.5 inches. The diameter of the fuel chamber is 5 inches. These dimensions make the smoker able to hold a lot of fuel and smoke for your use calming bees. The bellows on this smoker are made using synthetic fabric material so it lasts for long. An improved airflow tube on this smoker eases lighting the smoker and keeps it lit. You will also be impressed by the large storage hook on the smoker and a double loop pull tab for easy operation of the smoker when you are wearing beekeeping gloves.
The design and construction of this bee smoker are well done so the smoker works effectively and very efficiently. It burns fuel slowly and produces a lot of smoke. Additionally, both beginner and experienced beekeepers are able to use this bee smoker due to its user-friendly features such as ease of lighting, and the airflow tube that is built into the smoker’s firebox.Check Price
5. Honey Keeper Beehive Smoker with Heat Shield
Honey Keeper is one of those brands that resonate with most beekeepers. It is known for its wide array of excellent quality beekeeping equipment and accessories. The Honey Keeper Beehive Smoker with Heat Shield is no exception when it comes to top quality. It is a highly-rated bee smoker boasting a plethora of amazing features. To begin with, it is made of stainless steel material which is durable and resistant to rust and abrasion. It also has a heat shield that ensures you are well-secured from heat burns when working on your beehives. Apart from these, it has a mounting hook that allows you to hang the smoker when you are not using it.
Other features that make this unit a must-have for every beekeeper include: a heat aerator for providing better airflow and long-lasting smoke, top-notch bellows that guarantee consistent airflow, and its lightweight which makes it easy to carry around. The unit weighs 1.6 pounds only and has a dimension of 11 x 8 x 5 inches. It is a smoker definitely worth every penny.Check Price
4. Honey Keeper 12-1/2 inch Beehive Smoker, Stainless Steel with Heat Shield
The Honey Keeper 12-1/2 inch Bee Hive Smoker, Stainless Steel with Heat Shield, Beekeeping Equipment is an excellent product for any beekeeper, whether you’re a beginner or experienced. The smoker is made from high-quality stainless steel and features a heat shield, making it a durable and safe option.
One of the biggest pros of the Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker is its large size. The 12-1/2 inch design provides ample space for fuel, allowing for longer and more effective use. Additionally, the smoker is well-ventilated, ensuring a steady and consistent flow of smoke to calm the bees during hive inspections.
Another pro of the Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker is its ease of use. The smoker is lightweight and easy to handle, even for beginners. The heat shield is also a significant advantage, as it helps to protect the user from burns and other injuries.
The design of the Honey Keeper Bee Hive Smoker is also a pro. The smoker’s construction is top-notch, with a sturdy and durable design that ensures it will last for many beekeeping seasons. The heat shield and perforated smoker shield are also well-designed, providing both protection and excellent smoke distribution.
However, there are some cons to consider. One potential downside is the lack of additional accessories. While the smoker itself is of high quality, it does not come with any additional accessories such as fuel or a hook for hanging the smoker.Check Price
3. VIVO BEE-V001 Beehive Smoker with Heat Shield
The Vivo BEE-V001 Beehive Stainless Steel Smoker with Heat Shield is an excellent quality smoker at an attractive price. It is well-designed with all the necessary components rightly put in place. The smoker has a hook for hanging it when in use and produces nice, thick smoke for a long period. It is also quite a breeze to pump this smoker.
This smoker is also fitted with a heat cage which will protect you from injuries and ensure the bees are kept at bay. You should however be careful with its bottom since it tends to get hot. You should ensure you keep it on a safe surface once you are done with it. It is great quality for money and I recommend it to anyone irrespective of whether you are a hobbyist or a professional beekeeper. It’s definitely a steal for the price.Check Price
2. Goodland Bee Supply GLSMKR Beehive Smoker
Goodland Bee Supply is another reputed manufacturer of beekeeping equipment and tools. It has built a good reputation with most beekeepers due to their exceptional quality products. Its bee hive smoker captured my attention when I saw it for the first time. It is an easy-to-clean smoker that is ideal for all beekeepers. It comes at an affordable price, therefore, for those on a tight budget or the beekeeping enthusiast this smoker will suit you best.
When compared to other bee smokers, this one is quite large and thus it lasts longer since it can hold more fuel. Its pump is also easy to use making it easy for you to undertake your business. It fires up easily and as expected and will go beyond your normal hours of inspection. Furthermore, it is easy to clean and it does not have any screws or protruding nails inside. It has an attractive design and is safe to use.Check Price
1. HunterBee Beehive Smoker Kit & Beekeeper Hat
The HunterBee Beehive Smoker Kit & Beekeeper Hat is an excellent option for anyone looking to start or upgrade their beekeeping setup. The kit comes with a bee hive smoker, beekeeper hat, and other essential tools, making it a convenient and comprehensive option for beekeepers of all levels.
One of the biggest pros of the HunterBee Beekeeping Starter Tool Kit is its inclusivity. The kit comes with all the essential tools a beekeeper needs, including a bee hive smoker, beekeeper hat, hive tool, and more. This makes it a convenient and comprehensive option for anyone just starting out or looking to upgrade their beekeeping setup.
Another pro of the HunterBee Beekeeping Starter Tool Kit is its quality. The kit is made from high-quality materials, ensuring its durability and longevity. The beekeeper hat, in particular, is well-made and provides excellent protection for the face and neck.
The design of the HunterBee Beekeeping Starter Tool Kit is also a pro. The bee hive smoker is well-ventilated and constructed from stainless steel, making it a safe and efficient option for calming bees during hive inspections.
One potential downside, however, is the price. While the kit is comprehensive and high-quality, it may be more expensive than some other options on the market.
Another potential downside is the sizing of the beekeeper hat. While it is adjustable, it may not fit all head sizes comfortably.Check Price
Why the Bee Smoker Works
There are many theories put forth to describe how the bee smoker works with regard to calming the bees. The two concepts that have become widely accepted are described below:
1. Pheromones theory
Pheromones are the hormones used for communication by bees. The alarm pheromone is usually sparked whenever there is an invasion on the beehive. It is also emitted whenever a bee is injured or startled. This signals the colony to initiate an aggressive attack on the invader. This will take a few minutes and the entire colony will be gathered for an attack. The smoke is effective since it masks this scent even if you kill a bee or two while working on the hive. The bees will not be able to send out the signal and hence an aggressive attack will never be initiated.
2. Fire drill theory
The use of smoke on the hive initiates a kind of fire drill for the bees. Once the bees get the idea that there is a fire breakout their immediate action would be to immediately embark on a honey consumption spree. They immediately consume as much honey as each can hence resulting in full bellies. They will then be prepared to flee their home and search for a new home if deemed necessary. All this hustle disrupts the bees and when full, they are harmless. You can therefore work on the hive without fear of being stung by an aggressive bee colony.
It is for these reasons that the bee smoker is found to be effective when harvesting honey or conducting routine inspections on the hive. On top of this, some smoker fuel helps curb some beehive pests such as varroa mites.
Lighting a Bee Smoker and Keeping it Lit
The bee smoker has a simple design and early versions of the smoker were the simplest. The smoker has evolved over the years and the current one comes with bellows attached on top and is used for directing the smoke. The smoker’s simplistic design and way of functioning make it so easy to light and operate.
You start the fire in the can and then pump oxygen through the fire using its bellows which will also push the smoke through its outlet or spout. The main part to be concerned about is how the air flows into the can through the bellows. If the smoker material is packed down too far in place, it blocks airflow and makes it difficult for the smoker to be kept burning.
The bee smoker lighting follows ideally three steps. The beekeeper starts the smoker, kindles it, and keeps it lit using smoker fuel. Each of these steps requires its type of fuel. The starter fuel is a kind of smoker fuel that sparks easily and stays lit for long enough for the kindling to catch fire. Some of the smoker fuel that makes excellent starter fuel includes pine cone, sheets of newspaper, and roll of cardboard. Starter fuel is lit and then tossed into the can before laying the kindling on its top. Some beekeepers may not use starter fuel but choose to light the kindling directly. However, this tends to be difficult, especially for beginners.
Kindling fuel should be small and thin pieces that can light easily. For instance, pine needles, wood shavings, hamster bedding, dry shredded leaves, straw, and others. You should however avoid any synthetic fabric from used clothing since it melts rather than burn and will generate harmful smoke. Smoker fuel refers to any fuel that smolders slowly and long, and this could be larger kindling fuel or any desirable smoker fuel that lasts long. Small twigs, wood chips, large pine needles, cotton-knitted smoking circles, hardwood fuel pellets, and many others are ideal fuel.
How to Light and keep the smoker lit:
- Take the starter fuel and light it with a lighter or match stick.
- Place it at the bottom of the smoker. You can use the hive tool to push the burning starter fuel into place.
- Pump the bellows a few times to insure the starter fuel maintains a flame.
- Add some kindling fuel to the smoker until the burner is ¾ full.
- Squeeze the bellows to help keep the kindling burning.
- With the kindling glowing, add the right smoker fuel and keep squeezing the bellows until a cool white smoke is generated.
- Close the top of the smoker and use the smoker on the hive.
How to Smoke a Beehive
The smoker should be used on occasional hive inspections or honey harvesting. Remember it does not really make a difference if you use more smoke in the hive. More does not mean calmer bees. Apply a few puffs of smoke on the beehive then allow at least 20 to 30 seconds before working on the hive. The smoke should be applied from the sides or behind the hive. Do not approach the hive from the front.
When undertaking full box inspection on hives, when some of the frames are exposed, apply a few puffs of smoke then give the bees some time to move to the untouched frames. This will ensure you do not injure the bees in the process.
A few brief squeezes in the smoker bellows are usually sufficient to calm the bees. Avoid too much smoke on the hive since this can choke and kill the bees. Always allow the bees some time, say 20 seconds, after smoking before you work on the hive. Remember also never to smoke all sides of the hive. Approach the hive from one of the sides only. If smoked from all sides, the bees will have nowhere to go.
If you are working on docile bees, then it is tempting to work on the hive without using a smoker. Nonetheless, the smoker helps safely drive away the bees from the frames and corners you are working on. It, therefore, goes without saying that the bee smoker is needed for a hive inspection and honey harvesting.
Tips for Using a Bee Smoker
The way you handle smoker will determine your effectiveness in calming your bees. These are helpful tips when using a smoker:
- Know the difference between starter, kindling, and smoking fuel. Use the starter fuel to light up the smoker then add the kindle fuel before finally adding the smoking fuel.
- Lighting begins at the bottom of the bee smoker and then the fuel is piled up on top of it as the flame increases.
- Always start out with an empty and clean smoker.
- Bellows are your friend when lighting and keeping the smoker lit. Squeeze in a sufficient amount of air whenever you are lighting and adding more fuel. The occasional puff from the bellows will keep the smoker burning.
- Never pack too much or too little fuel within the smoker. Too much will put off the fire and too little will burn too fast and waste fuel. Put in the right amount of fuel. You should also monitor the smoker from time to time to ensure enough fuel is left.
- The bee smoker gets very hot. Therefore, hold it by the bellows or by its little hook in the front.
- Never place the smoker on top or near anything that melts or is prone to scorching.
- Ensure the smoker is well maintained at all times and store it in a cool dry and secure place.
Alternatives to the Traditional Bee Smoker
Most of us are familiar with the traditional bee smoker and have never given a thought about any other alternative to this. Some of the alternatives to the smoker include”
- Liquid sprays – this is normally referred to as spritz spray and is made up of a sugar mixture in addition to additives such as Honey-B-Healthy. Sugar syrup coats the bees and forces them to furiously clean themselves. As they do this the beekeeper will be conducting the inspection or honey harvesting. This is effective in calming the bees but its biggest challenge is that it gets stuck on the bees. This may affect movement and flight also. Another challenge associated with liquid sprays is that it affects the developing larvae and can invite robber bees. It is also not practical during the cold season since it can freeze the bees.
- Liquid Bee Smoke – this is made from concentrated liquid and is safe and fit for humans to consume. This has been in use for a long time as a substitute for traditional smokers. It is particularly a viable option for those who operate in fire-ban areas or those who prefer a portable alternative.
- Others – other options include CO2 and N2.
What to do with the Bee Smoker when Finished
Ever wondered how to handle your bee smoker after your work is completed? Well, most beekeepers simply look for a safe area away from dry grass and dispose of the hot smoker fuel. This seems to work well but it is not the proper way of handling the smoker after smoking. The recommended way to handle the smoker is to simply place a piece of paper on top of the canister and then close the lid. This will block incoming air and suffocate the fire within. The fuel will remain in excellent condition too and will be good for use on your next smoking work. In fact, it will light up faster next time.
Bee Smoker Maintenance
A well-maintained bee smoker guarantees an excellent, clean supply of smoke. Every bee smoker should be kept in good condition for them to operate properly. Here are some of the ways to maintain your bee smoker:
- The interior part of the bee smoker should be cleaned using a screwdriver or a hive tool. Scrape around the lid so that it opens up and closes easily. Clean the smoke outlet also.
- Remove soot and carbon from the can so as to make it easy to remove the grate.
- Remove the grate using a screwdriver and remove the soot or carbon using a hive tool. You should also clean the holes using the corner of the hive tool or a screwdriver. Debris and soot may also be collected in the can beneath the grate. Use a hive tool or screwdriver to remove this.
- Gently remove the bellows from the smoker and clean the tube. You should also check out the bellows for air leakage using your finger. Squeeze the bellows and pass your finger over the surface of the bellows. Any small leaks can be fixed temporarily using tape but large air leak requires a replacement of the bellows.
- Put back everything that was removed for maintenance and your smoker will be as good as new.
Bee stings hurt, and can even be fatal if you’re allergic to them. To ensure you go about your business efficiently and without any burns or stings from the bees, choose from one of the above best bee smokers. The bee smoker not only pacifies the bees but also gives the beekeeper confidence when working on the hive. A relaxed beekeeper will also do a good job with less reactionary movement. It also helps minimize bee loss that usually occurs when bees get crushed while removing and replacing frames. Calm bees are easy to move and manipulate. You should however take good care of your bee smoker so as to boost its efficiency and extent its life.
Do you own any of the bee smokers on this list? Which smoker(s) do you think should be added to this list? Leave a comment below and let us know.