A smoker is used in beekeeping practice before a hive is opened.  

The smoker introduces cool smoke, which can be created by burning suitable, non-toxic materials.  

What to put in a smoker

Use materials such as newspaper, cardboard, dried grass cuttings and old hessian sacking. 

Ensure the materials have not been treated with chemicals such as insecticides, and it's best to avoid preservatives such as Cuprinol and Creosote.

There is some debate about plastics, but it's common sense to check you don't have any bits of plastic on the materials you are putting in to your smoker.  Plastics are probably best kept out of the hive, although they are used in flow hives.

When  using a smoker, watch out for hot ash!

Is there are an alternative method for smoking bees?

Here Phil Chandler recommends 3 handy pocket sized beekeeping tools you can keep in your pockets – including a powder puffer, which is especially useful because it can be used one-handed. 

The powder puffer is filled with icing sugar (powdered sugar) and is used on the bees to calm the bees whilst reducing stress.  It will also encourage them to groom which is a good natural defense against Varroa mites

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