SoCal Beekeeping

P. Michael Henderson

I've had problems with my smoker since I started using wood pellets for smoke - the burning pellets sometimes fall out of the hole in the bottom of the smoker where the air is pumped in by the bellows.  Here's a picture of the outside of my smoker.  It has a "cup" at the hole, I suppose to capture the air blown by the bellows.

But on the inside, it's just a hole and the hole is above the insert in the bottom of the smoker.  In the picture, I've drawn an arrow pointing to the hole where the air comes into the smoker.

When using the smoker, burning wood pellets occasionally fall out of that hole, and that could lead to a fire in the apiary.

So I went a bought a new smoker with some features to eliminate the problem of wood pellets falling out.  Here's the new smoker.

It has a tube that runs into the smoker, not a cup on the outside.

And the insert fits into the smoker over that tube. 

It looks like it would be difficult for a burning wood pellet to make it's way out of the smoker.  It would have to get past the insert, then into the tube, and then fall out when I was using the smoker.  I don't think there's enough room between the wall of the smoker and the insert to allow pellets to get through.

I'll try it out next time I go into the hives.

And one more comment about the smoker - I always make a plug for the smoker.  When I finish working the hives, I stick the plug in the top hole and the smoker goes out, smothered by the lack of oxygen.

I just happened to walk back to my apiary to look at the hives and it looked to me like the bees were doing an orientation flight at my old hive.  I didn't think much about it right then, but soon after decided to get a picture.  By the time I got back the number of bees flying had decreased but I took this picture.

It's nice to see this.  It indicates that the queen is laying a good number of eggs each day and the bees are progressing through their lifecycle.  These girls will be out foraging soon.