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Author Topic: Favorite smoker fuel  (Read 38029 times)
Anonymous
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« on: March 21, 2004, 06:27:00 PM »

Everybody has a favorite smoker fuel, and it's a pretty popular topic among beekeepers.  

I have had luck with a couple of things:  The fiber plugs from Dadant.  They are cheap, and produce cool smoke a long time!  Great for multiple inspections.  The problem is, it literally takes a blow torch to light them, and the smoke isn't terribly thick.  Great once they're lit, though.

And I ordered a pound of burlap off ebay for a dollar.  The shipping brought it up to nine dollars, though!  huh   It lights easy, has pretty thick smoke, stays lit a good long time.  Not as long as the plugs, but it's good for three hive inspections, at least!

And you don't think 1 lb. of burlap is a lot, but it IS!  It was about the size of a laundry sack.

(I love the smoke that pinestraw produces, and you can't beat the price, but it produces really hot smoke, and can blow hot sparks...  Maybe I'm packing it wrong, though.)

What's your favorite?
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2004, 08:07:42 PM »

Ya know, that's one thing I haven't even experimented with. Guess I should. Everyone has a favorite, and I've always just stuck with pine straw cause it's all over the place here. It can burn pretty hot like you said. And I think it is a matter of packing. If I pack it too loose, it's hot....even to the point of blowing flames! But if I get it too tight, it goes out.

Beth
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Anonymous
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2004, 09:59:50 AM »

I use pine neddles off white pine trees. I place a wad of them in the bottom of the smoker and light them with a blow tourch as it is easier to reach the bottom. I then stuff more on top mixed with some of the green ones I pluck off the trees and stuff in my makins sack.
Orf course I very rarly use it. Mostly when i am going to pull frames and need to cut the burr comb from between the frames. I want the bees away from it so I don't cut the queen or some thing.
 Cheesy Al
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2004, 12:26:04 PM »

It's funny, I often feel like I'm repeating myself, Jas knows my site like a book and he usually knows my answers before he asks the question - lol.

But I get burlap from work, we get bundles of clean rags wrapped in burlap - wash it at work in or washing machine, cut it in foot square pieces and keep it sealed in a Tupperware.

I like it because WHEN THE FIRE IS OUT it is a fairly long burning and relatively cool smoke - and boy is the price right!

The bees react to it quickly, not being frightened at all, although they do RUN BACK IN the hive -from the entrance board when I come near them with it, which I think is a good think. That being: event the guard bees are getting a good dose of smoke too and they do their guarding JUST inside the hive.

All the other fuels metioned are great and well established too! If I didn't have such as treasure trove of burlap, I think I'd go pine needles which is another great local source here. Maybe I just like giving the bees HEMP to mellow out on - lol.

Bee
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Agility Mom
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2004, 05:01:15 PM »

I use wood shavings which I bought in a bagged bale. It was inexpensive and they will probably outlast me as I have barely made a dent in them. They light easily with a little paper in the bottom, seem to give good smoke and last quite a while. I've tried other things, although not burlap, and this seems the easiest for me.
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Judy
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« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2004, 07:39:51 PM »

I use baling twine.  If you know someone with a horse, they will be glad to supply you with all you can use.  Everytime they open a new bale it's 2 more loops of twine.   I like to roll a couple loops up and keep it in my pocket when I'm working the bees.  If the smoker starts to die down, I just reach in my pocket and pop another ball in.  Try that with pine needles wink

robo...
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2004, 08:04:30 PM »

Do you mean that orange twine? Isn't that to plasticy? The stuff I'm thinking of seems as if it would gunk up the smoker.

Beth
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« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2004, 08:56:26 PM »

Quote from: Beth Kirkley
Do you mean that orange twine? Isn't that to plasticy? The stuff I'm thinking of seems as if it would gunk up the smoker.

Beth


No, I use the twine made out of fibers from the sisal plant.  This is still commonly used by the farmers around here.  I believe the orange stuff you refer to is some type of nylon.  I wouldn't suggest using it. I imagine the fumes aren't to healthy.

robo...
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2004, 09:15:57 PM »

Yeah Smiley I didn't think it would be too healthy either.

I've got a bunch of sisal rope around here. I'll have to try that too. I know it's pretty cheap stuff anyway - and I get all I need at Wal-Mart. Thanks for the clarification. Smiley

Beth
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Anonymous
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2004, 08:42:24 AM »

Unless I jam in a LOT of burlap, I've been having it finish up before I get to my second hive.  I've had some luck putting something long-burning on top or inside the burlap, like wood chips...
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SherryL
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2004, 11:26:45 PM »

Since I've never tried this for beekeeping, I shouldn't even be posting, but I use dryer lint (rolled tightly) as fire starters when backpacking.  It burns very well and of course it's extremely lightweight (important in backpacking) and costs nothing!

When I do get my smoker, I'm going to try it & see what happens.  

Sherry
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Anonymous
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« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2004, 09:25:52 AM »

Sherry I think you will find that the dryer lint burns to fast and with out enough smoke. It does as you said start a fire fast, then cover it over with chain saw wood chips or some thing to make smoke.
 Cheesy Al
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« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2004, 11:39:12 AM »

4th post and going off topic allready

Take that dryer lint pack it in the compartments of a egg crate. Pour wax on the lint in each compartment. Cut each compartment apart. Great fire starter. Works very well and doesn't get wet or damp.

OK I guess there's a connection. I did use wax!
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« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2004, 06:33:02 PM »

I use hay from our horses.  we have the plastic twines, so i dont have the luxury of burning those, but the hay smokes a very think greenish smoke, which tends to be a little hot, but it is so thick that you can smoke from quite a distance.  This smoke is so thick you can't see though it, but MAN DO YOU STINK LIKE A FOREST FIRE once you've finished with it lol!
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Anonymous
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2004, 08:52:36 AM »

I use purchased smoker fuel. I tried the pinestraw but either it was too hot or I could not get it going at all. The smoker fuel does take a while to get started , so it is the first thing I do when I decide to go to the bee yard. It last through all ten hives and I am kinda slow with my inspections..
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filmmlif
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2004, 11:44:42 PM »

i had pinon wood left over from the winter (from out outdoor firebowl). i soak the wood and it smolders real well...and the smoke smells terrific! start it out with newspaer, small twigs then the pinon. do you know it? it's great!
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Anonymous
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« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2004, 09:36:28 PM »

I have used straw for he last year but my supply ran out and the wheat is a couple of weeks away from coming off here in Ohio.  This left me to come up with something else.  I read that someone was using cardboard.  I rolled some up with the corrugations running parallel to the cylindrical axis thinking this would give the smoke an easy route out though to the spout.  The length of the cardboard cylinder was slightly shorter than the smoker would accept.  I lit the one end and let it get a pretty good flame going and stuck it hot end first into the smoker.  It made smoke and stayed lit well as I experimented.  I was a disappointed with the amount and density of the smoke but started toward my hives anyway.  As I walked past my garden I saw the pile of brush I had cut from some of the trees around the house a couple of weeks back.  The limbs were full of dried leaves so I figured what the heck.  I took several handfuls of leaves from the branches, opened the smoker, removed and unrolled the cardboard and spread the leaves out on the unrolled cardboard, then rolled it back up, lit it, and put it back in the smoker.  I think it worked great, lots of smoke and stayed lit the entire time I was in my Hives.
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Beth Kirkley
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« Reply #17 on: June 08, 2004, 09:46:45 PM »

I just tried the cardboard the last time I was in the hive too. And I found the same experience - poor smoke coming out. So I stuck a little handfull of pine needles on top, lit again, and that time it did great. It lasted through both hives easily.

Beth
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« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2004, 10:59:36 PM »

read that same cardboard article and tried it.  I LIKE IT!  cardboard is free.  it's all over and easy to get.  did you remember to wet the end and mash the channels shut? it makes a difference in how long it lasts.  as far as how much smoke i don't think you need to see clouds of white smoke.  most of that is water vapor. the amount of smoke from the cardboard is very satisfactory and you're not likely to have the neighbors wondering if they should call the fire dept. seeing all the smoke.  it's how the bees perceive it that counts not how we do!
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Anonymous
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« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2004, 09:15:29 AM »

Here is a new smoker fuel the club member I got a swarm from uses.
It is the berry or seed heads off of sumac gathered each fall and stored in  paper lined milk crates till good and dry.
He has been using it for over 40 years. The stuff smokes like a steam engine at a threashing bee.
 Cheesy Al
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