Beekeepers should use extreme caution when using a smoker at all times. In times of a Total Fire Ban you should avoid the use of smokers except in emergency situations. Bee smokers are exempt from a Total Fire Ban only if they are used under very strict conditions including only lighting the smoker in a safe location. These are outlined in the NSW Rural Fire Service schedule of exemptions (See extract below from November 2019):
Fire lit, maintained or used in connection with the management of bees and bee hives, provided that:
In addition to these mandatory precautions, having water or a fire extinguisher close to hand is critical in case sparks escape from the smoker. Further advice on the safe use of smokers is available on the Professional Beekeepers community of practice website.
If you have a permit or license to keep bees on an apiary site in a National Parks NSW (NPWS) or Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW) forest you may need to visit your bees during the bushfire season.
Before travelling to the site:
If fires are located near your hives, call the Rural Fire Service to discuss safe access to your hives.