In B.C., Inonotus obliquus has been reported on paper birch and rarely on cottonwood. Elsewhere in North America it has also been found on alder, hickory, beech, and Ostrya (American leverwood or hophornbeam). This fungus is widely distributed throughout the range of its hosts in B.C.
That is worst what I may imagine. Perhaps needles of junioper are worse.
The idea is not to make much smoke but just keep bees calm. Smoke spoils your honey and bees either like it.
On my property I do not have birch that I know of. We have alder, beech and cottonwood, and other softwoods, but the hardwoods are limited. The disease of these hardwoods appears to be called a "conk". Interesting. I am going to look out in the forested part of our land that aremains and see if I can find some somewhere. If I can, I will use this for smoke, like you do Finsky. It appears that this woud be a superior smoker fuel, because of the long burning time and small amount of smoke. We'll see.
I thought that pine cones would work well, I see the answer is no. That is OK. I would really like to work my hives without the use of smoke. I do that quite often when I am doing something quickly in there.
For example. On Wednesday I went to check the hives. The day was very warm and sunny and the bees were flying very freely. I wanted to look within the check the food reserves. I did not want to use smoke that day, I thought that they did not need that hassel right then to fill up on honey. The bees were calm and did not get annoyed even one tiny little bit with me going into their home. No stings.
I did get stung when I went to push up my sleeve because I put my finger on a girl that was on my wrist that I did not see, that was my fault, not hers. So, I figure that if I can work with these girls when it is the first day that they have been able to get out to cleanse, then I should really try with all my might to not use smoke. I hear some forum members don't even use smoke at all, I remember their posts.
I have two hives that made it SO FAR through the winter. They both have about 5 frames of bees. I saw inside at least 1 full frame of capped honey in position 1 and 10 in each hive, with frames 2, 3, 8, 9 some honey. I took out the 2 and 9 frame and replaced with full honey frames left over from the dead colonies.
There is no disease in the dead hives, I looked very closely, so I did not have any worry about giving the honey to these two colonies. I all saw was just poor dead bees looking like they were trying to get their last sip of food before they got too cold. Oh woah is me, that is not a nice or happy sight to see. This coming winter will be much different. I'm going into winter with strong, strong healthy hives. That is my mission.
I looked back on my records and these hives that died were the ones with the higher varroa mite counts that I performed the sticky board tests on last fall just before I applied the formic acid pads. I was advised by the Mitegone fellow that my colonies' collapse was probably imminent because of the high counts. He was 100% correct.
In reviewing my records of last year, I read that on February 4 I observed the colonies were bringing in lots of pollen. This must be when the hardwoods are producing pollen (and maybe some softwood too?). On March 4 each colony was given a pollen patty and on March 12 I had to give another one. On the March 4, this was when I observed larvae in the colonies, so by March 4 they are very busy rearing brood. I also remember having to be careful on that day (and afterwards of course) when I walked outside near the apiary because the bees were so busy drinking water from the puddles and muck out there. That was before I finished the ditch that I made for their water needs. Not to say that they still didn't enjoy the puddles.
I see the phacelia tanacetifolia that has self-seeded up near the apiary is growing like crazy. The seedlings are about 1 inch high. I must go out and thin these plants P.D.Q. because they grow better if they are not crowded. This plant begins to set bud about 6 weeks after germination. It likes to have the cool weather conditions. So it will be interesting. I should see buds by no later than about March 15, give or take and then open flowers producing nectar within a two week period following that. So, I should, if all goes well, have some nectar being produced for bees by April 1, or sooner. That is good, that would be an early nectar flow that will be very strong. Good for bombus and other beneficials as well. They love it plant's abundant nectar.
I will continue to sow the see for phacelia every two weeks throughout summer so there is a continuous nectar flow from this plant. It is pointless to sow seed after 15 August because the daylight sunshine hours are not long and strong enough for the plant to produce flowers. I tried it last year and it came into bud too late to be of any use, then the frost killed the plant down before it flowered. It was an experiment and I learned something.
It is time to start to think about raising seedlings for the garden soon, be it vegetables or flowers. Hurray!!!! Spring is a time of new birth of many things.
I heard the Varied Thrush yesterday, calling its single note, in different pitches. That in our area is one of the very first signs of the springtime coming on quickly. The many trees' buds are swelling and it won't be long before the daylight hours are longer than 8.
In winter here at the winter solstace time, the sun sets at approximately 4:00 P.M. and rises about 8:00 A.M. That is approximately 8 hours of good daylight. Now the sun is rising and setting about an hour longer on each end. It is very noticeable the longer daylight hours and I rejoice at the difference in the light.
I can carry on...Great day. Cindi