If dry conditions have hit your part of the country, it is worth going over your beekeeping plan to manage fire risks.

If you haven’t already, be sure to visit the Fire Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) website to see if you require a fire permit. It is also worth considering using alternatives to smokers in dry conditions, such as liquid smoke or bee escape boards.


  • ensure you take a good look around apiary sites for any possible sources of ignition before you leave (FENZ recommends waiting for 15–20 minutes after finishing checks, before leaving the site)
  • try to work in times of higher humidity or as cool conditions as possible, such as early morning
  • ensure your smoker is in good condition and that fire or hot cinders cannot escape through the base air inlet
  • light the smoker in a fireproof container. The container will contain any burning fuel that falls out of the smoker
  • light the smoker in an area without flammable vegetation
  • use ‘cool’ smoke: hot smoke is accompanied by sparks and flames and is a fire risk, add more fuel
  • extinguish the smoker with one of the following methods:
    • fill the smoker with water before emptying it, ensuring that it is completely out
    • block the nozzle and place the smoker into an airtight fireproof container.
  • emptying the smoker into water or a hole is not recommended due to the risk of embers escaping
  • ensure you have a phone or other means of contacting emergency services
  • carry a fire extinguisher and/or water in all vehicles
  • sit the smoker on the lid of another hive rather than on the ground when not in use.

Burning AFB-contaminated hives

If you need to burn hives due to American foulbrood (AFB), check if you require a fire permit. If your region is under a closed fire season and you cannot be issued a permit, then contact The Management Agency to discuss your options.

This information was put together by Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) and Apiculture New Zealand.