John K Jordan
I've heard two theories on why smoke "calms" the bees, or perhaps, makes them less likely to sting. One is the smell interferes with the pheromones in the hive, specifically the Alarm pheromone that says the hive is being attacked, everyone to battle stations. If this is the reason it seems like a shot of perfume would work as well as smoke.
The explanation I like better is the smoke warns of a possible fire on the way, to prepare to abandon the hive. The bees en mass start gorging themselves with honey, just as when swarming, since what they take with them is all they may have to survive while locating a new home and to build new comb to start a new colony. Bees full of honey, just like those swarming, will not sting. The forest fire theory would also explain warnings I've read that using too much smoke might cause the queen to leave the hive.
For the smoker I've used hay, dried grass and leaves, wood shavings, bailing twine, burlap, and pine needles. My favorite: white pine needles. Getting the smoker going so it smokes for an hour or so is a bit of an art. I'd like to find an aerosol can of smoke to try.
Speaking of wax, I'm wondering if adding a bit of beeswax and/or propolis to the mix would be useful.
Edit: I found it in 10 seconds with a google search: https://www.amazon.com/CRC-Liquid-Detector-Tester-Aerosol/dp/B001B3BL0S
And sorry for hijacking the floor finish thread! I'm facing the same issue - antique heart pine finished 13 years ago, could use some touchup.