Today’s featured oddity on Vintage Treasure Tuesday is a bee smoker. Now personally I have never tried smoking, bee or otherwise, but even at Expert Level Zero I can tell you that smoking bees sounds like a very bad idea. I mean, how would you even light one?
But seriously folks, beekeepers have apparently been smoking bees for thousands of years so that the bees don’t attack when the beekeeper disturbs the hive. The reason smoke calms the bees is (insert authoritative-sounding sciencey stuff here).
While bee smokers in various forms have therefore been used for a few millennia (can you imagine the trial and error involved in figuring out what calms a hive of stinging insects?), the design of the one Greg purchased at the Sparks, KS flea market has been used – and largely unchanged – since its development in the late 1800’s by Moses Quinby. As the first commercial beekeeper in the U.S., Quinby (affectionately known to family and friends as “The Other Moses”) operated more than 1,500 hives in New York and designed the modern bee smoker with a bellows to force the smoke out of the container.
Fuels used in the bee smoker would be natural materials such as pine needles or rotten wood. (Remember: modern chemicals do not calm bees – they poison them. And a poisoned bee, is a pissed off bee. Do not use charcoal briquettes in your bee smoker unless you want Moses Quinby to rise from the dead and release pissed off bees in your bedroom!)
I do love finding these old vintage tools, and this was one of several great “picks” we found down in Sparks.