Hey Georgia Boy!
To illustrate what Iddee is saying, I too thought my wonderfully sweet gentle bees did not need smoke to work my first summer. They were always calm and pretty much ignored me when I went it that first summer. Then one day towards the end of the summer, I thought "I'm just going to peak under the lid real quick - I don't need to light my smoker". True to form, Iddee was right. I don't know if I surprised them or what but they came out armed! I think I got 4-5 before I could close them up!
As the forum quickly reminded me (after they stopped laughing) - first year bees tend to be much less defensive AND you never know what you will find when you open the hive. the refrain was clamorous - "Always have a smoker even if you have nothing else." I've listened ever since then!
I don't like a lot of smoke and i don't puff it over the frames if it's not needed, because I have noticed the same reaction you mention. But I always have a lit smoker and I always puff the entrance and one under the SBB before I pop the top.
As moots says, better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!