How to Light a Bee Smoker

Lighting a Bee Smoker

How to Light a Bee Smoker

Just like starting a fire in the fireplace or a campfire, when lighting a bee smoker, start with easily burning materials to use as tinder, such as paper or dried leaves. As your fire gets bigger, add less combustible materials, like pine needles, burlap, or dried corn cobs. Be sure the materials you use are free of chemicals.

What You Will Need to Light a Bee Smoker:

Bee smoker (of course)

Paper (chemical free) or dried leaves

Dried pine needles, burlap, or dried corn cobs (We use pine needles, because we have lots of pine trees on our property.)

Hive tool

Matches or a lighter

Lighting the Smoker:

Open your smoker lid, loosely wad some paper and light the bottom on fire. Place the burning paper, fire side down, into the canister body of your smoker, being careful not to burn your hands.

Next, place a loose handful of pine needles into the smoker on top of the burning paper. Be sure your hands are out of the way and squeeze the bellows to give the smoker a few light puffs. This will cause the pine needles to catch on fire.  

Carefully add another handful of pine needles to the smoker, pushing them down with a hive tool and lightly puff the bellows again.  Add a third handful of pine needles to the smoker, push them down with the hive tool, and gently puff the bellows a few more times.

By now, you should have quite a bit of smoke coming from the smoker.  The goal here is to have a smoldering fire, not flames, so don’t puff the bellows too much. We want to smoke the bees, not burn them.

Close the lid. If lit properly, the smoker should continue to give off smoke without having to squeeze the bellows. The smoke should be cool and white in color.

To puff smoke into the hive, aim the nozzle toward the part of the hive you want to smoke and gently squeeze the bellows.

Tip: If you plan to work in more than one hive, you may want to add more pine needles, so your smoke will last longer. Don’t stuff it too full or your fire may be suffocated and go out.

Warning: Lit smokers are HOT and may cause burns to skin or burn/melt other materials, such as clothing, wood, rubber, plastic, etc. After you are done using the smoker, put the contents on a fireproof surface, where it cannot blow away or in a contained place where it can burn. We put ours in the fire pit. Allow the smoker to cool completely before putting it away.

This is how we light a bee smoker. Are you a beekeeper? How do you light a bee smoker?

About Nelle

I am Nelle. I grew up in rural, small town, Ohio. When I was young, I learned a lot about homesteading from my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, 4-H, FFA, and others around me.
Now, I’m all grown up, have 6 children of my own, and plan to teach them everything I know.

Here on Mama’s Homestead, we talk and write about homesteading, homeschooling, and kidsteading (homesteading with kids). We teach our kids about survival, self-sufficiency, gardening (vegetable, herb, flower), orchard, beekeeping, home keeping, soap making, harvesting, cooking, food preservation, livestock, nature, crafts, homesteading tools and wares, and more…

Welcome to my homestead…come and learn with us!


  1. […] open the hive (after the smoker is lit) approach the hive and blow a few small puffs of smoke into the front entrance of the […]

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