Only YOU Can Prevent Fires in the Bee Yard!
With the heat and severe drought conditions we are experiencing, the smallest spark from a bee smoker can become a nightmare in minutes! Our bee yard happens to be located in the midst of our managed pine plantation, and because those trees are a primary agricultural investment, we risk more than hives if a smoker fire gets out of control. That is the #1 reason we have always carried our smoker in a metal bucket – and the smoker STAYS in that bucket unless we pick it up to puff smoke in a hive! Even the smallest fires can turn into massive devastation. If identified, fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars are being imposed on those who even “accidentally” start them. Beekeepers have a responsibility to avoid being the cause of property damage or even worse.
Here are a few quick tips when handling your smoker:
- Keep a fire extinguisher with you.
- Choose an area to light your smoker that is free from burnable materials (on a concrete slab, in a sandy area of your bee yard, etc.).
- Avoid lighting your smoker in the wind allowing embers to float to flammable material.
- Keep your lit smoker in a metal bucket or box (i.e., old tool box)
- Do NOT sit your smoker on the ground. Dry grass can catch fire from the extreme heat of the hot smoker surface.
- Be aware of where your smoker is at all times. You don’t want to trip over it!
- Keep the smoker away from the veil of your bee suit! Floating embers can melt a hole large enough for several bee friends to get through!
- When cleaning out your smoker, never dump ashes on the ground. Instead have an additional metal bucket with a tight metal lid to carefully dump your smoker contents into. Place the lid on the bucket and then pour a little water into your smoker to be sure no sparks remain.
- Store everything in a safe place!
By Susan and Tom Caldwell