Alternatives to smoke

Has anyone had any experience with using other things instead of smoke to passivate bees?

I’ve seen CO2, N2, liquid smoke, “bee calm”, sugar spray suggested. From what I’ve found CO2 and N2 aren’t great for the bees, although they actually put the bees to sleep.

I’m thinking about things for backup if the smoker goes out and options for during fire season and just interested in what is out there.

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I would 100% not recommend CO2 unless you are planning to euthanize the bees. Unless you do it perfectly you’re more likely to asphyxiate your bees then put them to sleep.

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I have heard reports that the liquid smoke can flavour the honey. Sugar water may work, I have tried this before. Generally speaking your bees only need a few puffs of smoke initially and that’s it. I wouldn’t keep re-smoking them as they will only get aggravated. If your bees are not settling down and being calm (like mine are at the moment) then you may need to consider other factors causing the aggressive behaviour. I am going through this process at the moment and its frustrating.

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In “The barefoot beekeeper,” Pill Chandler he recommends using a simple water spray bottle as the bees think its raining.

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I have always used smoke and the idea is to show control when using the smoke. I tried sugar water just the other day and bot hit 3 times for my troubles. I only use sugar water now when trying to combine colonies as i add Honey Bee Healthy and the scent helps them combine easier. Apart from that im smoke all the way, with the exception of my 3 sting outing with sugar water i have had only 1 other sting in almost 18 months of bee keeping and using smoke.

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Water can chill the bees and brood so I would be wary of using it in the hive.


@rodderick it sounds like your bees need a trip to the psychologists couch.

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Yeah, it sucks. New queen this spring might fix them.

Doesn’t smoking taint the honey?

You would think so, but from my experience I have never tasted smoky honey.

I don’t think anyone could ever use the amount of smoke required to taint the honey. I’m sure the bees would have long gone by then. You only want to pass the smoke across the entrance so the bees draw some in while they’re fanning. Then a small puff over the top of them when required. Your not trying to bbq your bees or kill them with smoke inhalation.

I have a friend who is a honey judge and he would vehemently disagree with you. I have heard some tales of barbecued honey.

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Wow, that’s amazing, I’m guessing the entrant probably used too much smoke. I would never have thought that normal smoking of bees would taint the flavor of honey. That’s only my thoughts. That doesn’t mean I’m right.
Now your smoker won’t go out :smile: