Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
Hi all- so I was up early this morning and caught the news on the boober and they mentioned that this past Tuesday- a fire was inadvertantly started in the ABQ bosque by a beekeeper trying to check on his hives with his smoker!!! I was disturbed by this news as it could bring negative pr to an already fragile endeavor but then realized that this is the perfect situation and opportunity to remind us to be careful and thorough. Luckily- it was contained and put out relatively quickly. They didn't mention who or exactly where but I thought that sharing a short list of the obvious and not so obvious etiquette of using your hive smoker is in order:
1) Be sure to place a small wad of "green" on top of the burning contents under the lid. By adding green leaves or grass blades, this will keep the smoke cool and also prevent sparks from emitting.
2) Do not put your smoker on the ground on top of dry weeds, grass, debris, etc. Some smokers have a nice little hook under the lid spout that can be rested on the side of the hive. If yours doesn't have one, be sure to place your smoker on top of the hive, on a lid or somewhere where it cannot ignite surrounding dry brush.
3) Be sure that your smoker is thoroughly extinguished after reviewing your hive. You can do so by pouring water down it - don't worry it will dry before it rusts. If you are in a dirt/sandy area, you can dig a small hole and pour out contents into hole- then pour water on top and pat over with lots of dirt.
4) Carry a large jug(s) of water and a fire extinguisher. We keep an extinguisher in our truck just in case- luckily, we've never had an incident. When we worked with California beekeepers a few years back, they did not use any smoke during their dry summer months but rather "liquid smoke"- which they claimed worked just as well as regular smoke.
I've never tried this but thought it was a good way of preventing fires in the fields.
Praying for rain!
Thank you for posting this.
Thanks Melanie-all good info...didn't know about putting some 'green' on top to contain sparks.
I live in Eastern NM and we almost have high winds and always high fire danger to deal with. I use a metal foot tub size bucket/pail with a bail to set the smoker in. When my smoker is not in use for short periods or I am moving from site to site I invert another smaller metal bucket/pail which fits inside the original on top. Any tiny spark or mishap can mean disaster, so this is not overkill in our area.
Would you happen to have more details about who is keeping bees in the bosque? I work for the City and started the City Bee Program with the Open Space Division. Nobody should be keeping bees inside the bosque and any sort of flames or fires is prohibited. Open Space has permitted two hives at Candelaria Farm (closed to the public) but that is still outside of the bosque.
Thank you for any additional info you could provide me about this.
My contact is firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s. good post by the way - very insightful. will have to look into liquid smoke!
I don't think he was keeping bees in the actual bosque, and the fire was not in the actual bosque. From what I understood of the news report, the guy who started the fire lives near Central an Artisco, right along the bosque and the fire was contained to his yard. It never made it to the bosque, but the news report made the point that if it had been a windier day, it COULD have easily travelled to the bosque. I believe he was keeping bees in his yard, and the fire was in his yard, which just happened to be right next to the bosque.
The news clip I saw was on at about 4am on KOB (?) Channel 4 news. They showed video of a beekeeper in their suit right near trees and smoke abundant. The announcer mentioned that the fire was contained in the ABQ bosque but didn't clarify the exact address or whether it was a yard fire.
Glad it wasn't in the bosque and glad it was contained in a yard vs. spreading. I hope whoever it was is okay and that their bees are okay.
Two years ago we had a property owner/hive hoster who was burning weeds ignite two of our hives accidentally. The bees survived and we still use the boxes. They are a reminder of what could've occured....