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Author Topic: What's the best Smoker fuel?  (Read 5520 times)

Offline kedgel

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What's the best Smoker fuel?
« on: May 19, 2010, 01:31:43 AM »
As all beeks know, the cantankerous smoker is the bane of our existence!   :-x  Frequently we read of problems exacerbated by the smoker going out.  Many are the times when I've been up to my eye-balls in hot bees and reach for the smoker only to find it has gone out or won't produce enough smoke to do anything but make the ladies laugh!   I've tried lots of stuff, mostly by trial-and-error I've started to develop my list of favorites.  Here's mine:  the card-board egg trays that come in the big egg flats, the "fabric" that grows at the base of coconut palm fronds, dried grass clippings and slash pine needles.  I like old burlap, but it's hard to come by anymore. So, what are your favorite smoker fuels?
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Offline classeroadbees

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2010, 01:34:45 AM »
burlap burlap and cattails

Offline kedgel

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2010, 01:44:39 AM »
burlap burlap and cattails

The brown part of the cattail, or the leaves, or both?
Talent is a dull blade that cuts nothing unless wielded with great force--Pat Travers

Offline Bee Whisper82

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2010, 04:08:08 AM »
I have recently started to use some old hay that I had in the barn.  I was trying to use dried grass that I had pulled from the field.  I know that hay is the same but I guess the hay that is in the barn is drier.   I tried dried leaves but had no luck they burnt up to fast and went out.

Offline woodchopper

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2010, 06:57:41 AM »
Pine Needles work great.
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Offline garys520

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2010, 07:27:17 AM »
I agree with the pine needles.      I mix them with a little paper from my shredder and they light fast and stay lit.   After they're going I stuff another handful on top of the flame and it's the best smoke for the bees. 

Offline jajtiii

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2010, 07:48:44 AM »
Bailing twine is the easiest to use and longest lasting, in my smoker.
Then I use pine tags and finally (if nothing else is on hand) I will just use maple or oak leaves

Offline TheMasonicHive

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2010, 07:51:26 AM »
I start with newspaper to get it going, then add a mixture of smaller twigs with a handfull of pine needles.

Once that starts crackling I had thumb thick twigs and top it off with a small bale of twine.

Mine doesn't go out.  I guess the point is that you just have to be attentive to your smoker with whatever fuel you're using.
Christopher Peace
Oakland County, MI

"It teaches us that, as we come into the world rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever be industrious ones; never sitting down contented while our fellow-creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them without inconvenience to ourselves." - Freemasonry on the Beehive

Offline RZRBCK BEE

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2010, 10:49:13 AM »
Pine needles. Fold a wad of them in half and light the folded end, then shove into your smoker but not all the way down. After awhile go ahead and push to the bottom and add more on top. An old timer showed me this a few weeks ago and it works great. Haven't had any problems since. I usually see it smoking in the back of my truck way after I am done with my hives. Good luck.

Offline MustbeeNuts

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2010, 01:20:06 PM »
Pine needles for me, I tried newpaper, it don't stay lit and when it does it burns up too fast. Pine needles love to smolder on the bottom and a little puff gets it going great again, I am surrounded with pine needles, its free and works great. one of my favorites, the professional stuff, I can't stand that stuff, slow to light, and by the time its working good,, im done in the hives, so I have to put it out. too much of a pain, higly reccomend pine needles , fast , smoky and lasts plenty of time, just pack it down fairly tight.
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Offline Scadsobees

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2010, 01:36:09 PM »
I find that paper products stink worse.

I like pine needles for a quick check, sycamore bark (tree in the front yard drops a lot, burns easy, don't smell too bad) for medium checks, and if it goes longer...well...more sycamore bark!  Both local, natural, and free.

Occasionally I'll have a little campfire going nearby, and an awesome way to get a smoker going and keep it going is to rake a coal out of the fire and drop that one the fuel in the smoker.  The coal will keep that smoke going for a long time.
Rick

Offline marksmith

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2010, 01:38:22 PM »
I start w/ newspaper and then add smoker shavings (alder is what I have most of) then when I have that going good and hot I use hardwood pellets (think traeger bbq grill pellets)  I fill it 2/3 way up with the pellets and go to work.  There is enough air space to allow a little draft so it doesn't go out. 2/3 full allows me to tip it horizontally without worry of a hot pellet falling out onto the girls.  2/3 full lasts about 4-5 hours before needing another load into the smoker.

Mark Smith - Elkton, OR

Offline Wynoochee_newbee_guy

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2010, 03:33:14 PM »
I start with news paper, to get the fire going then I take about a 1/4 flake of hay stuff that in my smoker get the smoke going then add about two hand fulls of wood pellets. my smoker lasts for hours.
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Offline danno

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2010, 04:27:36 PM »
I like summac berries and bailing twine

Offline hankdog1

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2010, 06:34:29 PM »
wood shavings are good if you know someone who has a planer
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Offline PeeVee

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2010, 07:29:10 PM »
Haven't tried the wood shavings yet (and I do have a planer  :-D).

Just read in "The Classroom" by Jerry Hayes, published by Dadant to use rolled up strips of old blue jeans. Finally a good use for that worn out collection! I tried that and it does work well.

I have a lot of pine needles available and I have used dried sumac pods as well as pine cones.

Usually I get involved in the bees and neglect the smoker and then discover it has gone out.
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Offline donm

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2010, 07:34:11 PM »
I bought an inexpensive bag of cedar mulch and like it.  I would prefer pine needles but don't have them in my neck of the woods.

Offline Astrocycler

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2010, 07:47:55 PM »
Red cedar bedding.  The stuff used for dog beds and guinea pig bedding.  Easy to light... lots of smoke when needed... lasts a long time... stays lit. 
I know it is going to be a good day when I get up in the morning look back in the bed and I am not in it!

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Offline MacfromNS

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2010, 08:03:15 PM »
Red cedar bedding.  The stuff used for dog beds and guinea pig bedding.  Easy to light... lots of smoke when needed... lasts a long time... stays lit. 
Do you light the bottom and then put some on top of that or do you just light the top?
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Offline AllenF

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Re: What's the best Smoker fuel?
« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2010, 10:04:16 PM »
I like to start the fire with the packing paper that comes with your bee stuff when the leaves are real wet, otherwise I use oak leaves from the woods around the hives.