No Smoke, No Joke

 How I use muslin kitchen towels to keep my bees calm during a hive inspection.

How I use muslin kitchen towels to keep my bees calm during a hive inspection.

No Smoke, No Joke

This may be one of my favorite beekeeping hacks, using muslin kitchen towels to keep my bees calm during a hive inspection instead of smoke.

If you are a beginning beekeeper, some of you may find that trying to keep your smoker lit, and having cool smoke, is a bit of a challenge. If the smoke coming out of the smoker is too hot, you can burn bee wings as you apply it to a hive.

There are several theories of what smoke does to a colony. From my observation I tend to lean to the one that says bees go into preparing for a quick hive escape when smoke is applied, thereby giving the beekeeper time to get in and out. The smoke stresses bees so I prefer not to use it if I don’t have to do so.

Since I take photos of what I find, I tend to need a little extra time inside my hives. Enter one of my favorite beekeeping tools, the muslin kitchen towels. They are not as beautiful as these hand-embroidered beekeeping towels but they are very handy to have in my inspection caddy. Muslin is smooth and doesn’t catch bees in their fibers. The towels themselves can be purchased at your local big box stores in the kitchen utensil section for about 75 cents per towel.

Check the packaging. I have seen the bundle of towels vary in number from 5-8 per package.

 Once covered, I uncover only the width of a frame as I inspect the inside of the hive.

Once covered, I uncover only the width of a frame as I inspect the inside of the hive.

Once you’re done, you can easily wash and hang dry these muslin kitchen towels. I dry them by hanging on a towel rung so that the fabric softener doesn’t get into the towels. I don’t know what pheromones bees will pick up from fabric softener.

I also use these towels as neck scarves under my bee suit, and tied around my head when the suit hood is too big.

Muslin kitchen towels also come in handy in the kitchen only mine never quite make it there.

Charlotte