We looked around for a good smoker and found copper ones, tinplated ones and some very low cost ones but this stainless steel smoker with a removable insert for easy cleaning and a wire guard for protection represented the best value for money and practical application for everyday beekeeping. You can get smaller smokers but they are harder to keep alight, this 10 cm diameter model holds plenty of fuel and needs topping relatively infrequently. It may look like a victorian dalek with a backpack, but it does the job! The spout is very strong and will withstand the smoker being accidently knocked over. Smokers with a conical top are more prone to damage this way.
The easiest fuel to obtain and use are wood shavings which you can buy from pet suppliers, where it is sold for small animal bedding. Sprinkle a small amount in the bottom of the smoker, add a small twist of newspaper and light with a long match, gently squeezing the bellows until the wood shavings are burning well. Then slowly add more shavings, a handful at a time, on each occasion using the bellows to keep it alight, don't expect to see flames, just lots of dense white smoke. You can also start a smoker with a gas blowlamp, and this is probably the quickest, but do not push the end of the blowlamp too deeply into the smoker or it will go out.
While doing your rounds of the hives give the smoker a puff of air from time to time to keep it alight and top up with shavingsbefore it goes out!
When finished, plug the smoke outlet with some wet grass and lay the smoker down in an airtight and heat proof container, such as a metal biscuit tin. Alternatively, lay it on its side out of reach of children and where it can't set fire to anything and wait until it goes out and cools naturally.
For our full range of smokers see here.