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In a 'fire ban' period remember

Remember it is against the law, and common sense, to light a bee smoker during a fire ban.
So ‘play it safe’ and put off hive work till you get an ‘all clear’…


I’ll be going into summer for the first time with my bees, and your post was a good reminder to take necessary precautions.

In Western Australia we have the following website to check when the Fire Bans are in place:

I found one for NSW also:

For Queenlands:

Those in South Aus:

Might be worth practicing some smokeless inspections techniques prior to the bans taking place…

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I will be making sure I have a hose close by on the days fires are not banned. I guess I will be avoiding an inspection altogether if it is that bad that a fire ban has to be in place.

Hey Freddy, are you aware of any app for fire bans and fire emergencies for us sandgropers? I had a very good one but it was shut down last year.

Sorry Stefan, I’m not aware. If you know anything about RSS feeds, looks like the emergency site has them: https://www.emergency.wa.gov.au/#about

That’s what I use Freddy, but the app I had was so much more convenient, showing all incidents on a map and notifying me if something occurs within a radius I set on a point on the map, which I set on my house. I have the ability to turn on sprinklers remotely if I get notified of a fire close by.

My hives are on a BAL-FZ, and my house BAL40, so fire is something I take very seriously.

It beggars belief that in this age of electronic wizardry, such an app is not existent, if not fully funded by government.

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Ok, couple of comments here. :sunglasses:
Firstly, fire ban or not common sense rules. No smoke here summertime, fire ban or not, if a neighbour smells smoke the automatic reaction is to report it, don’t blame them, I do the same
Smokeless inspections suck, like really, really suck in a dearth, during a flow, no probs. Summertime here, in the beautiful Hills of Perth, last few years, there’s been a dearth and this makes normally nice bees into angry beasts, not just to the clown sweating in a white suit but also to whoever’s around.
Best to get your work done before fire season and prep for the heat, water source, sun cover, insulation, whatever. Did I mention water?
By all means if you need to go in, go in but have a plan and get in and out quickly, calmly, and remember to check weights.
When smoking is possible again you appreciate it soooo much more. :wink:


Can’t imagine working bees without smoke…destroys the relationship I’ve been so careful to build with them…bees sure have a memory.

So from afar it appears as if Australia 2019 is similar to Australia 2018 regarding heat and precipitation…would that be an accurate assumption?

I came home from work today and sprayed my bees with some water… they just looked at me blankly and continued on their merry way. After a couple of sprays, they got the idea and moved away from the localised shower… I didn’t add sugar to the water… but there is still a flow on :sweat_smile:

hmmm, not looking forward to summer. I’ll make sure they are left plenty of honey so that they stay happy :joy:


I had to look up BAL…

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Hiya Doug. Always warm here round summertime, has been since I was a little fella. Population and urban sprawl is what’s changed, concrete and clay. I do remember the Fremantle doctor (sea breeze) being cooler here in the hills, it’s superheated now. I don’t remember these easterlies off the desert ripping over the hills though…
Used to have a bit more rain and as a result of this and population growth we endure water restrictions each year now.
Yeah it seems hotter as I get older and I think what’s happening to this world but then I can look down at the rock I’m standing on and know its a 2600 million year old lump of granite and the metamorphic rock beside it created from an ancient sea bed over 3000 million years ago it sort of makes me think… :upside_down_face:

Interesting skeggley…my wife and I were just discussing Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the USA) when we were kids…she was a Brownie (girls group) and I was an air cadet…back in those days we weren’t allowed to wear jackets when we were on parade. Well today is Remembrance Day and it’s -25C with a windchill of -30C and I can’t imagine anyone in bygone days expecting kids to march in a parade in those conditions without jackets…

So what I’m saying, it appears as if our winters come earlier in the fall and stay later in the spring…and our summers are cold and wet. It’s as if we are sapping other parts of the world (Australia/California) of precipitation and cooling.

We’re allowed to light up a cigarette to create smoke, as long as we don’t discard the butt irresponsibly (not that I smoke). There’s probably an argument for being able to light up a smoker as long as we use it & extinguish it responsibly, which I’ll probably do this morning because my veil has 2 gaping holes in it.

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On the East coast the drought is more severe as time goes by. This time last year there was not the added problem of bush fires that we have now, today there is 50+ bush fires in Queensland alone. Last Summer was record breaking in maximum temperatures and duration of heat waves, the wet season didn’t happen at all.
So really Doug, for me the conditions are just an extension if 2018 but worse. This October I extracted less than 20% of the honey I did in 2018. Thank goodness it is just a hobby and an interest for me.
Sydney and for up to 200 miles around it is now in a total fire ban for the next week.
I went out to my hives a few days ago at 10am with my head lights on so others on the road got ample warning I was there, at my hives the bush fire smoke was so heavy my eyes were watering and didn’t even think of lighting my smoker.
Two days running of a blue sky, great. It means the local bush fires are under control at least.

For what they’re worth, these are the regulations regarding bee smokers:

Though I live in a tinderbox, my common sense wasn’t going as far as Mr.Skeggley’s and I’m panicking that my own common sense may be deserting me. Perhaps I need to rethink. I neither want to be a cowboy with bees, nor with fire… and I do not yet have the confidence to go smokeless. I’m in a super sticky situation.

My strategy for summertime inspections was as follows:

  1. Follow shire rules to a tee.
  2. Only inspect if it is safe to do so.
  3. Hose down area around my 2 hives
  4. Keep hose handy, with tap on.
  5. Only hang the smoker on a sturdy metal structure which I have.
  6. Extinguish the smoker in a galvanised bucket away from flammable materials.

I’m a bit OCD, and tend to not become complacent.

Now, this may be a very dumb question but I’ll ask it anyway:

Apart for the obvious mishaps like kicking a smoker, or not extinguishing it properly, what are the actual risks of a smoker in use? Will the bellows spontaneously burn or something? Will it throw up flames and embers from the spout? Are there any do’s and don’ts in regards to fuel used to be safer?

I’m not a fire scientist, and I’ve only racked up c20 minutes of field experience with one. I was thinking whether installing a piece of stainless steel ember guard mesh inside the spout will make it any safer to prevent embers blowing out.

I was also reading the other day about a type of smoker approved in Australia, which had two holes, not one. I think these are the holes on the bellows. I can’t remember exactly how it was safer, nor can I find the article. My smoker, apparently, is not the approved type.

The bellows won’t become hot enough to ignite but the biggest risk is when pumping iar into the smoker that you can get a spark from the smoldering fuel in the smoker come out of the spout, and that is all that is needed if there is a supply of combustible fuel(paper, rag, leaf litter, anything that can burn) that the spark lands on.
Take it from someone who last year was lighting my smoker at the back of my car, note: at the back of my car, when the smoker was working well and closed up I saw my hive tool in the back of my SUV and got it while holding the smoker. !0 minutes later my car went up in flames. It must have been just a hot spark that got into the back of my car.
Your idea of fitting an ember mesh would work but would of course constantly need cleaning of the carbon and tar that you get in the smoker spout.

I am extremely sorry to hear about that Peter. I can only hope you were not injured. That is a terrible experience Pete, and must have been traumatic.

Luckily I don’t have to drive to my hives.

I think I will put that mesh inside for extra safety all year round, and when it clogs up I just burn it with methylated spirits.

Mist spray of sugar syrup is a well used alternative to smoke.


Being an idiot I tried to get what I could out of the car as it was obvious I wasn’t going to save the car. So I got severe burns to both hands as I don’t wear gloves in my bee keeping, Severe scaring on both hands, especially my right hand, nerve and tendon damage, but the ambos that attended did a great job as did the hospital I was taken to. It could have been much worse. It was not a good day and things can go pear shaped so quickly.

You scared the living daylights out of me now Pete. I’m going to spend the rest of my day thinking about your misfortune.

Where do you spray it Mr. HappyHibee? Inside the hive just like smoke, or outside to lure the ladies away from you?

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On the bees when they are looking at you “with intent”… :blush: If I have to do this, I open the hive and spray it onto the bees that come to investigate around the top bars. I would say it is less than 20% as effective as smoke, but it is certainly better than nothing.