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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Hello all,
    I am wondering what works the best for everyone for smoker fuel. I manage quite a few hives of the worlds meanest Russian bees, so I need a well lit smoker on hand all the time. I have tried Kwikstart smoker pellets from Mann Lake; they produce great smoke, but they don't stay lit very long. I am having a pretty hard time with anything else, except for shredded paper, but I'm totally out of that now. So please post your suggestions for fuel here and also your tips for keeping your smoker going well. Also please list where you purchase the fuel. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Huntsville, Alabama
    Posts
    677

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    I use a bale of pine straw and a bag of pine bark chunks that I get at Home Depot. I light the pine straw and get it going pretty well. Then I stuff the bark chunks on top pretty full. A few more puffs to get it smoking good and it almost never goes out. Costs me a total of $6 for an entire spring and summer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Birmingham, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    I use pine needles. They are commonly sold in bales here in the South as mulch at garden centers, but I'm not sure if they are just a regional thing as I believe they are a byproduct of the paper making industry. I actually got my supply for free this year, as the trailer was empty when I went to get some. I explained what i was doing with the needles and the manager allowed me to collect a big garbage bag full of needles that were covering the trailer floor about a foot high.

    BTW, I grew up in Laramie. I bet the sagebrush makes for some tasty honey out there.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    jefferson, wi,USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Another one that uses dry pine needles, I have a unlimited supply. Light it and put a wad of cotton fiber on top. Goes until it is burned up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    East Peoria, IL
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    I start with a piece of newspaper then start adding pine shavings we use for chicken bedding.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    1,999

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Pine straw here, too. Freebie for me as I have a pine forest behind the bee yard. I rake up small branches, small pine cones, etc.,....makes a nice mix. I try to roll a handful into a flat circle, light it and stick it it the smoker for a thought while it flames up. Then I push it on down into the bottom...puff it good until it flames up good again and then begin adding more and more and more, puffing as I go to be sure it's still lit good as I pack it down...finish packing it to the top and add a wad of green grass to keep embers from blowing out easily. Every now and then while I'm working and the smoker is sitting there idling and the smoke seems a little "light", I will pump the bellows a few times just to warm it up a bit.

    I think I'm going to revisit dried grass from mowing the yard (live in a bahia pasture). The last time I used it it smoldered *really* well...but that's another story.

    Ed

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    lee county, fl, usa
    Posts
    916

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    At my yard the property owner put a decent pile of what looks like wood that went through a grinder. It's right by my hives so I suspect it's for my smoker. I start with newspaper and then pine needles, then when that's going good I put in a handful at a time, get them going and repeat another 1-3 depending on how much work I have. Works great, no trouble at all now with smoker. I wouldn't know where to buy something like that, maybe a city yard waste area. Works better than the pellets I bought last year.
    Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Prvb 16:24
    March 2010; +/- 30 hives, TF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,996

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Pine straw and rotten wood works well, but I'm all over using burlap right now. It works great. There's a coffee roaster near here, and a friend gave me a pile of sacks from there. I get the smoker started with a bit of paper pulp egg carton, and then add a piece of brlap about the size of my hand. (I pre-cut the burlap into pieces). Once I've got a wad of the burlap in flames and burning nicely, I pack the smoker tight with more and lock 'er up. Burns forever - nice and cool, thick, white smoke

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Bellingham, WA, USA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Hot Springs, Arkansas
    Posts
    306

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Quote Originally Posted by bhambees View Post
    Beat me to it. Watch the Fatbeeman on Youtube!!!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,939

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Put a piece of burr comb on top of the fuel in the smoker, makes it burn for a long time. I use pine needles and rotten wood.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,178

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    I need a smoker fuel that is slower burning. keeping the smoker going is not my problem. it burning up all the shredded paper in less time than it takes to inspect a deep and a half is the problem. I tried a pine shaving and shredded paper mix but it still burns to fast. I don't have a typical smoker. it is very small. and I mean small, your coffee mug is probably bigger. So any suggestions for a longer lasting fuel? I would like to try wood pellets but they are not available this time of year.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,939

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Try pine bark or rotted wood from the ground [after you dry it]. Lasts pretty well, or buy a decent smoker

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,352

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Quote Originally Posted by westernbeekeeper View Post
    Hello all,
    I am wondering what works the best for everyone for smoker fuel. I manage quite a few hives of the worlds meanest Russian bees, so I need a well lit smoker on hand all the time. I have tried Kwikstart smoker pellets from Mann Lake; they produce great smoke, but they don't stay lit very long. I am having a pretty hard time with anything else, except for shredded paper, but I'm totally out of that now. So please post your suggestions for fuel here and also your tips for keeping your smoker going well. Also please list where you purchase the fuel. Thanks in advance!
    The "trick" to any smoker is to start w/ the right amount of kindling and fire and then the bulk of the fuel. With the pellets, I would recommend you find some burlap or canvas to act as a sort of gasket between the initial fire and the pellets.

    Crumple up newspaper, place it in the bottom of the smoker, set a match to it. Put another ball of newspapoer on top of that. Lay in a layer of burlap and fill the rest of the cavity w/ wood pellets. All the time you are doing this you will need to pump the bellows to keep the fire going.

    I use bailing twine. Fortunately I live in an area which still has dairy farms which put up hay in square bails bound w/ twine. The nonplastic kind. Don't use plastic bailing twine.

    I cut up a length of twine and shred the pieces to use as kindling for the ball of twine I will put in on top of the fire. I place the shredded twine in the smoker and light it w/ a match. Then a ball of twine is stuffed in on top of the fire, pumping the bellows to keep the fire going hot enuf to ignite the ball of twine.

    I have friends who use burlap. When working w/ them I stuff burlap in on top of my bailing twine. Otherwise, I find it hard to keep lit. Especially between yards.

    When in South Carolina I often use pine straw. One has to be careful about a really hot fire. It will spit fire, which can be hard on your bees and dangerous for you too.

    If you ever see someone wearing shorts and you see what looks like burns on the insides of both legs above or near the knees, you can be pretty sure they are a beekeeper.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,352

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    I mean small, your coffee mug is probably bigger. So any suggestions for a longer lasting fuel?
    What kind of smoker is that Daniel? Where did you get it? It'snot one of those pipe type smokers, is it? What kind of fuel was recommended for use in it?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Old dried horse manure works well. Start it with some paper or straw to get it going and it smolders really well!

    I've actually been using the Dadant cotton fiber stuff b/c I purchased a bunch my first year and still have it, but I'll move on to horse manure after that. We used it in my intro class several years ago and it works great and is free.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,178

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Mark, Yes it is one of the pipe smokers. One I think I am supposed to damper it down but have not yet got the hang of that. So my fuel burns to fast. From the video it looks like they use local dried weeds and grasses. Our local grasses are very thin dessert grass that burns if you look at it wrong. Not a good lasting fuel. I am now suspecting that fuel choice is fairly important with these smokers. Otherwise they are amazingly simple to use. the light very easy. In fact stopping mid inspection is about a two minute ordeal to reload and relight. I am pretty sure something like wood pieces will give me much more smoking time.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Citrus County, Florida, United States
    Posts
    260

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Dry pine needles and shredded bills (yes, after payment ). Light the wad of shredded paper and get a good flame, pack in bottom of smoker and pump to roaring blaze. I let that burn a little as I'm getting pine needles in hand (I don't buy, plenty of pines around house), needles going in same direction, then fold them back into an oblong packet and pack onto top of fire in smoker. Pump until some flame. Pack with more needles, pump. Pack more...pump. Pack, pump like 2 -3 more times, smoke is nice white and cool at this stage. Top off needles and make sure they're packed, close lid and pump a couple more times. Ready to go. I have the large Dadant smoker and loading like this it will easily stay lit and keep smoking for easily two hours, that's including my excessive smoking of the hive. Usually I just set it on a walkway paver to let it smolder out after working. When I go back and pop the lid to make sure there are no more embers, I usually see about a quarter of the needle load still in there, toasted and ready for the next inspection. For me, the key is the initial flame...it must be hot and big because you're about to starve it of air so you need hot embers at the base that will flare up again after being teased again with the bellows. That's what works for me.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    brownwood, TX, USA
    Posts
    862

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Mann Lakes sells wood pellets. They work well. I start the fire with a small amount of cotton, also from Mann Lakes, and put a handful or two of wood pellets on top of the fire. It really puts out a lot of smoke and a small amount will burn for a couple of hours. I don't have to smoke much, as my Italian girls are pretty nice. It seems a lot of people report the Russians to be hot. I guess those commies won't give up on the cold war, or maybe I should say the "hot" war.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    2,577

    Default Re: What do you use for smoker fuel? Any tips on keeping it lit?

    Cotton rags and cardboard. Cut some cardboard without tape or lots of printing, lay a cotton rag on it, and roll it up to drop into the smoker. Light the and get it burning, stuff it in, puff once or twice, then drop the lid. Should smoke for half an hour or so with a small piece, longer if you roll it tight.

    My grandpa used cotton rags -- they don't tend to burn with much of a flame and a smoker lightly packed with them should smoke for a long time.

    I find I don't use much smoke on two hives, so it's not a problem for me if it doesn't stay lit for an hour, but if you have a large yard, some wood chips or pellet fuel would work well.

    Main thing to do is make sure you don't pack too much stuff in there too tight before it's burning well, otherwise you just smother the fire and end up with no smoke when you need it most.

    Peter

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