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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    762

    Default Best materials for smoker fuel

    I was even debating on whether or not to use a smoker with my top bar hive, but I live in Florida and the feral bees I come across tend to be a tad hot, if not completely just wanting to completely wipe me off the face of the planet. (and, oh my, may even be Africanized). Yes, I know I could re-queen, etc, but I have to work with them a bit to even undergo that operation, even if I choose to re-queen. To be honest, I'm quite fascinated with their spunk. I know they are survivors.

    So, what is the best, cheapest, most readily available material to use in smokers that would tend to be on the "healthier" side for the bees, if that's even possible?

    Pine needles?

    Oak leaves ?

    Oak sticks?

    Hemp ? (I don't have any, feds - chill out)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Pickens County, South Carolina, US
    Posts
    828

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Chemical free burlap cloth. Be careful of seed sacks that might be contaminated with chemicals..

    Cow patties.

    Cedar chips.

    Rags from wiping up honey.

    Corn cobs.

    Wood pellets.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,587

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Pine needles - free, easy to light, easy to keep lit, and not as stinky as some other things. And if you get hard up you can buy a bale for $4 at the garden center. usually.
    5Y-25H-T-Z6b

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Moyock NC USA
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Pine needles.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,290

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Pine shavings. Cheap and easy to find.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Clay Count, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    810

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Pine needles have my vote. I also have some cotton and wood pellets I bought from the bee supply that I add on top of pine needles which cause the smoker to burn longer without having to open it up and refuel.
    Try living life with the attitude it's not about what you want to do but what you should do!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lexington, VA, USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    I use pine shavings from Tractor Supply. $5 a bale when not using for smoker fuel they are great bedding for the chickens and from there into the garden.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Perth Western Australia
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    I use the paper mache trays that are used to separate soft fruit. Makes a mild smoke.

    Geoff

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Fayetteville, Arkansas
    Posts
    5,018

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    I use chunks of wood left over from making boxes.

    Really just avoid anything with any artificial substance on it or in it. Things like paint, pesticide, wood preservatives. Bees have a very limited lifespan. You're the one that lives longer, breathing that stuff. The other thing to consider is what gets in the wax.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Grand Junction, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Juniper tree bark works great out here in Western Colorado, I collect it when I go hiking.
    Jack Moore ~ Sticky Bear Apiary
    Zone 7a ~ Elev: 4840ft. ~ https://www.facebook.com/StickyBearApiary

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Franklin County, PA
    Posts
    412

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Spent barley grain from brewing beer. Dry it out. Burns a long time. Pine needles, Leyland Cypress tree debri.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,029

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Straw.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Oxford, MS
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    I vote for pine needles cheap easy to get going and last a good while if packed in good

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    762

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Thanks so much for everyone's input on this. I'm stoked about the pine needles being viable (no pun intended).

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,674

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Corn cobs? I have read several places that corn cobs are poison to bees??
    Southern pine needles are the best!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Pickens County, South Carolina, US
    Posts
    828

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    I was just quoting from the text I have gathered since my wife and I decided to start bee keeping. Corn cobs are noted as a smoker fuel often. s a kid, we used to collect them out of the fields after the combine did it's thing and my mother used them to make corn cob jelly. The redder the cob the sweeter the jelly. Lots of sugars in a corn cob. Seems like it would be a good fuel. The best fuel is probably the one you have around you. There are places where pine needles may not be available. We have plenty here in the south! :-)

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    1,618

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Oak pellets for wood stoves. Better smelling than pine needles (which work good but definitely have a stench to them). A couple of weekends ago I did a cutout in a house being rehabbed. It was more than I expected and for a newbee I was their from 10am until 7:40pm. I lit a wad of mowed grass and stuff it in the smoker...got it burning good....filled about half way up with pellets and got that smoking good...finished filling up with pellets and capped it with wadded up green grass/weeds. I did not have to use much smoke during the cutout, just a little bit off and on...every now and then I'd pump the bellows a couple of times for the heck of it. The smoker stayed lit for at least 9-1/2 hours! Pellets are very good once you figure them out.

    Ed

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    193

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Are oak pellets the same as "heat pellets"? If so, Lowes had 40#(?) bags for under $5. Not as cheap as pine needles (i.e., free), but maybe low-cost option if one can't get pine needles?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Crenshaw County, Alabama
    Posts
    1,618

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    That's probably the same thing, outlaw. I got mine at Tractor Supply for about the same price...a bag lasts a LONG time. To me they smell *much* better than pine needles.

    Ed

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Posts
    259

    Default Re: Best materials for smoker fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by virginiawolf View Post
    Spent barley grain from brewing beer. Dry it out. Burns a long time
    I love the versatility of spent grains!

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