I’ve used my smoker twice now and getting it lit and smoking properly definitely required a little trial and error. It helped that I got some compressed cotton smoker fuel when I originally ordered all my equipment, and this burns very well and the smoke is “cool”. You definitely don’t want smoke that is mixed with sparks and feels like a blast furnace. I’m told bees don’t like that.
I’ve heard all sorts of explanations on why smoke calms down bees. One theory is that it simulates a forest fire so the bees go down into the hive to start eating all their stored honey in case they have to leave the hive. Another is that it masks the alarm pheromones given off by worker bees when the hive is opened up. Whatever the real explanation, it certainly works.