Smoker and forest fires
Precautions when using the smoker
The smoker is an indispensable tool for every beekeeper. But it is essential to comply with safety regulations when using smokers in a professional, efficient and safe way for the environment.
Apiaries are usually located in areas where there is vegetation: grass, bushes, bushes, trees ... which in summer are usually dry (and carry a high risk of fire).
First, as beekeepers we will have to comply with the rules and laws that regulate the use of the smoker in times of high fire risk. The season considered as high risk of fire will depend on each specific area, and will be determined by the legislation of the area. It is essential that each beekeeper be duly informed in the competent body of his locality (there are even municipalities in which permission must be requested to use the smoker in the Office of Public Safety). It is the responsibility of each beekeeper to be properly informed.
That said, we are going to list a series of basic safety rules for the responsible use of the smoker:
- Having a fire extinguisher and a tank or carafe with plenty of water and a shovel: it may seem exaggerated, but having an extinguisher can help us in the face of what can be a fire start. It is an investment that can be very useful for both the apiary and the environment. Regarding the obligation or not to have a fire extinguisher in the apiary, each beekeeper must inform himself and comply with the applicable regulations in his area. We also recommend having a tank or carafe with water (we can use them as a safety element and also to give bees to the apiary to drink). In addition, having a shovel for digging and extracting earth can be very useful since throwing earth over the fire is a good method to put out the fire.
- Smoker place of ignition: it is essential to light the smoker in a closed and windless place. It can be turned on in a warehouse, in a closed trailer, in the car ... always safely and without flammable elements nearby.
- Characteristics of the smoker: it is important that the smoker has a grid that prevents sparks or burning particles from coming out of the smoke from the smoker.
- Never leave the smoker unsupervised: while the smoker is on, we will always have the smoker in sight. We should never leave the smoker unattended and unsupervised.
- State of the apiary soil: it is essential to have the apiary soil clean of weeds and weeds, especially in summer times when the grass and bushes dry out and can constitute a high risk of fire. Ideally, the entire perimeter of the apiary should be cleaned of herbs and thickets. In times of drought, it is recommended to remove the grass with hand tools (not mechanical). In the case of using mechanical tools, it may be necessary to ask permission from the competent administrative authorities in the area.
- Where to leave the smoker while the hives are being checked ?: Our recommendation is to leave the smoker in the top hive of the hive next to the hive we are working on or on some stable and raised ground surface. Always in sight of our eyes and never leave the smoker on the ground (there may be dry grass or we can stumble and dump its contents to the ground and cause a fire).
- What to do on very dry days, with high temperatures and strong wind ?: the days considered as "high risk" or adverse weather conditions (strong wind) the smoker cannot be used (please consult local regulations regarding to smoker use in days and high risk situations). Instead of using a combustion smoker, the beekeeper can use a beekeeper smoke spray (ideal for quick inspections without using combustion smoker).
- Where to turn off the remains of the smoker ?: It is recommended to turn off the remains of the smoker directly in a bucket with water. The cube can be metal. You can also close the smoke outlet and the smoker, when running out of oxygen, will go out.
- What alternatives exist to the use of the smoker ?: Apart from the possibility of using a smoke spray, the beekeeper can use other techniques that do not require smoke (although less effective). One technique is to spray the flying bees lightly with water to return to the hive (water can be mixed with lavender oil to make the bees quieter). Care must be taken not to wet the tiles, so that there is no moisture inside the hive. This technique can be combined with the use of a damp cloth that we will put on the hive frames once we have lifted the lid. We will always cover all the pictures except the ones we are reviewing. In this way, we will prevent the bees from flying and we can work with relative tranquility. These techniques are not tThey are effective as the use of smoke, but they will allow us to work in times when it is not possible to use the smoker (dry days, with high temperatures, and with strong winds).
- Civil liability insurance: the beekeeper is responsible for the good use of the smoker. It is advisable to have a civil liability insurance that covers the contingencies caused by the beekeeping activity. It is always better to be legally protected against any situation that may occur.
- What is the phone number of firefighters or forest agents ?: It is worth having the phone number of firefighters (or emergencies, civil protection, police, etc.) stored in our phone's memory. . In moments of panic (for example, the start of a fire) it is sometimes difficult to think clearly. Therefore, calling and notifying the authorities about a fire will help us to act calmly in the face of the situation, as well as to promptly notify the authorities so that they can act as soon as possible and avoid further damage.
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