SUMAC
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Thread: SUMAC

  1. #1
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    I did a search on sumac and read some previous posts. I have a couple of questions for Grant and Clint (or anyone else who uses sumac). I gathered some last year and kind of forgot it until now. I seem to remember an article in one of the bee journals. Am I correct that you have to use a respirator? Does it make the bees mad when you use the sumac smoke? I saw one of the guys said the bees hate it. Do you use it every time you enter the hives or just occasionally? Thanks!
    "The greatest threat is our own staggering ignorance and cavalier treatment of the natural world to which we belong."

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  3. #2
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    I use the staghorn sumac in the smoker along with other fuels. I have never worn any protective gear nor have I used it alone. I use it randomly, as I do all my treatments.

  4. #3
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    I have used sumac just because it's handy (not for mites) and it worked like any fuel. It calms the bees. If you're smoking them enough to make them mad you're smoking them too much.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
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    Well..........

    I think you are confusing "poison Sumac" with plain old regular Sumac. Entirely different things. Do a google on the two plants and see the difference.

  6. #5
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    " If you're smoking them enough to make them mad you're smoking them too much."

    But, if your smokeing for mite control, whats too much?
    I really smoked mine up last year and didn't notice any brood, queen, or overwintering problems. In fact this was the first winter I didn't loose bees. I don't think it was because of the smoke though. Its my opinion that you can smoke them Heavy if your intent is mite controll.

    I've used a respirator while smokeing with rubarb. I've noticed anything that is still green in the smoker (grass, etc.) will make me quezy. Even if it is dry, but still green. Its likely the chlorophyll. If its green and your producing alot of smoke, I'd wear one. Its no trouble and you don't need a bee suit, that is if your just smokeing through the screened bottom board.

    [size="1"][ June 29, 2006, 08:18 AM: Message edited by: MichaelW ][/size]

  7. #6
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    "Smoking" for mite control? How in the world does that work? How much smoke do you have to use, and how often do you have to use it, to really control mite populations?

    I suppose if you smoke the bees with enough smoke often enough, you might eventually make them just leave. Once they're gone, your mite problems will be, too!

    As far as having to wear a respirator to apply the stuff, I'd hesitate to use such stuff in any of my hives. If it's so bad that I don't want to breathe a few fumes, I wouldn't want to eat any residue in any honey I might take off the hive. And, if it's so dangerous that I'd be afraid to catch a few whiffs of it, I'd really wonder what it's doing to my bees.

  8. #7
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    "...afraid to catch a few whiffs of it"

    I'm not talking about a few wiffs, I'm talking about billowing plumes of enveloping smoke!

    I don't really think you could "control" mite populations with it, but it should reduce mite numbers. I see it could be benificial in the summer dearth while you are waiting for temperatures to decrease to use thymol products or formic acid.

    The theory is, the residues increase grooming.

    Sure, it could cause absconding if you did it too often and your bees were already in bad shape.

  9. #8
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    "I'm not talking about a few wiffs, I'm talking about billowing plumes of enveloping smoke!" -MichaelW

    OK, but your bees are still exposed to the same concentrations. If you're enveloped in billowing plumes of smoke and you're worried about it, your bees are enveloped in those same billowing plumes of smoke. Again, if it's so bad that you're concerned for your health, don't you worry about what it's doing to the health of your bees.

    Along the same lines, if the residues increase grooming, then the residues must be sticking to everythin (including the bees) that comes into contact with the smoke. Those same residues could be in the wax and/or honey within the hives. Don't you worry about eating it, then?

    And, yes, I've read the theories about smoking and grooming and such before. The reports about experiments on this topic that I've read have suggested that smoking for mite control has very little if any real impact on mite populations. I'd appreciate reading any evidence that you might know about that shows that heavy smoking can actually decrease mite populations.

    By the way, I'm not poking fun at wearing protective gear. If you feel more comfortable wearing a respirator when smoking bees, or if wearing one helps you avoid symptoms that you find unpleasant, I think it's a fine idea. Personally, though, I wouldn't want to use a substance in any of my hives that I was so concerned about that I felt I must wear protective gear around that substance.

  10. #9
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    I've used vaporized oxalic acid on my bees with no harmfull effect
    I've read studies that say it leaves no buildup in wax or honey
    but I sure don't want to breath a few whiffs of the stuff [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Dave

  11. #10
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    People have been using sumac flower heads for smoking bees for years, long before varroa became a problem because it's a nice soothing smoke. If it is an effective varroa control treatment, I'd be very surprised.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  12. #11
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    "Don't you worry about eating it, then?"

    No

    I've been known to cook meat on a smoker too. Gasp!

    After some quick searching I found this good article on Tracheal mites and smoke, and also found lots of citations to articles that deal with various smokes and varroas that suggest some smokes do in fact drop varroa mites. I chose not to post any of the varroa citations as they weren't the specific articles.

    type "bees smoke varroa" in
    http://scholar.google.com
    to get a start on the varroa

    here's the tracheal one

    Apidologie 35 (2004) 341-349
    DOI: 10.1051/apido:2004026

    Natural products smoke and its effect on Acarapis woodi and honey bees
    Frank A. Eischena and Carlos H. Vergarab

    http://www.edpsciences.org/articles/...4/04/M4016.pdf

    "The smoke of creosote bush was the most
    effective tested, but other plants showed a
    modest activity. We conclude from these
    experiments that tracheal mite morality was
    caused by plant volatiles. However, because
    there are possible, but unknown side effects on
    honey bees, we do not advocate attempting to
    control A. woodi with any of them."

  13. #12
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    Sumac Berries - “We were amazed at the results” [BC, 9/04, p40]. A 5-second exposure to dried sumac seed heads burning in a smoker has a positive effect on mite drops and has a greater effect than mineral oil [ABJ, 11/04, p863]. Gather and dry berries previous fall or dry for approx 1 wk before using. Hard to get started, but once hot, they will smoke. Store berries in a paper bag. [BC, 9/04, p41].

    The chemical, 1-2-3 benezenetriol, also known as pyrogallol, is the ingredient in sumac seeds that kills mites. Pyrogallol is a poisonous white crystalline phenol produced by heating gallic acid, which is used in medicine and as a photographic developer. Sumac should only be used (as any other chemical w/ possible detrimental qualities) when honey supers are NOT on the hive [BC, 6/05, p8].

  14. #13
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    --I have used sumac just because it's handy (not for mites) and it worked like any fuel.

    Yea, Wink and a nod,

    And I smoked Pot in the 70's cause I liked the taste.

  15. #14
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    --People have been using sumac flower heads for smoking bees for years,,,,,
    If it is an effective varroa control treatment, I'd be very surprised.

    It has already been proven that sumac is a pesticide properties. what’s the dosage then per hive? What about the bi-directional effect this poison might have on yourself or the colonies?

    I would figure that your aggressive colonies would be smoked more and given a higher dose than your gentile colonies. This would give the aggressive genetics an unfair advantage over that of the gentile colonies causing greater winter success and drone production in these aggressive colonies, and this would be reflected in the breeding. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  16. #15
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    --The chemical, 1-2-3 benezenetriol, also known as pyrogallol, is the ingredient in sumac seeds that kills mites.

    This is the problem with using sumac as fuel, if Pyrogallol is inhaled, it can cause harm to the respiratory system.


    Pyrogallol can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, ingestion or through the skin. It is toxic and an eye, skin and respiratory tract irritant and prolonged skin contact may cause dermatitis. Inhalation can cause coughing, shortness of breath, nausea and faintness. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and unconsciousness. Blood disorders, liver and kidney damage can result. Serious cases can be fatal.

    Dosen't sound like a very wise choice for a smoker fuel.

    [size="1"][ June 29, 2006, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: Pcolar ][/size]

  17. #16
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    >It has already been proven that sumac is a pesticide properties.

    Serendipity strikes again. Wonder why all them old timers used sumac?
    Dulcius ex asperis

  18. #17
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    --Serendipity strikes again. Wonder why all them old timers used sumac?

    I don't know of any old-timers that used the stuff. I suppose everything that is burnable was burnt by someone one time or another in a smoker for fuel. So it would be easy to get testimonials to anything.

    But the point is that the compounds found in sumac are pesticides and are dangerous. Dangerous substances should always be replaced with less dangerous substances when possible. It doesn’t make it safe just because “old timers” used it.

    Often, advice is given on these list without regard to the dangers involved.
    Dave W. was the only one that mentioned that it should not be used while supers are on.
    And I was the only one that posted the dangers from the MSDS. IMO, it’s irresponsible to suggest the use of treatments without some work of caution.

  19. #18
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    >I don't know of any old-timers that used the stuff.

    There's a few retired beekeepers around here that told me they always used sumac flowers (among other things) for smoker fuel. There's also numerous references to the use of sumac flowers for smoker fuel "out there" on the internet and it's also been discussed numerous times on BEE-L and here on Beesource mostly in threads about people's favorite smoker fuel. I didn't make this up. People have been using sumac flowers for smoker fuel long before I started beekeeping.

    >But the point is that the compounds found in sumac are pesticides and are dangerous.

    The compounds found in smoke in general is toxic and poisonous and some fuels produce smoke that is more toxic than others. Nothing new here. Creosote, a primary ingredient in just about any kind of smoke is generally considered carcinogenic. Smoke from the Creosote Bush which is particularly high in volatile hydrocarbons including creosote is yet-another commonly used smoker fuel. Cedar and pine, two of the more popular smoker fuels are of course very high in volatile combustibles compared to say, grass clippings.

    Smoke is nasty stuff. I suggest reading Jim Fischer's article "Blowin' smoke":

    http://bee-quick.com/reprints/smoke.pdf

    >IMO, it’s irresponsible to suggest the use of treatments without some work of caution.

    I couldn't agree more, but I'm not going into panic mode here over sumac smoke. Pyrogallol (Gallic acid, tannic acid) is fairly common, it's found in among other things, oak tree leaves and bark, tea leaves, and walnuts. It's commonly used in the tanning of leather. Doesn't make it safe, and I'm not suggesting it is but it doesn't make sumac flower smoke a highly dangerous pesticide compared to say cow dung, pine needles, or rhubarb leaves.
    Dulcius ex asperis

  20. #19
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    --Pyrogallol (Gallic acid, tannic acid) is fairly common, it's found in among other things, oak tree leaves and bark, tea leaves, and walnuts. It's commonly used in the tanning of leather.

    Just because something is common does not make it safe.

    As long as you a satisfied in your own mind that the means you are using to justify it’s use of a known dangerous chemical is the right one. But please follow the warnings and do not use the stuff when you have supers on.

  21. #20
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    Factoid:
    Sumac berries have been used for.., well a long time I'm sure, to make a nice flavored tea. Simply steep in cold water over night.
    +++++++

    George makes the best point of all in this thread. I mean really, has everyone given up on sitting around a campfire, or smokeing their bees, or cooking food over fire? I find it hard to believe there is anything that unique in sumac berries that is not already being burned in bee smokers, or other smoke you may come in contact with. I've been using oak leaves and/or walnut chips for over a year because thats whats in my yard.

    Yes, if you are making LOTS of smoke wear a respirator. Yes, you don't want to smoke honey supers, at the least it will give you smoke flavored honey. I always use very light smoke when working around the honey supers.

    But an argument that suggests sticking a plant in a smoker and smokeing your bees with it is bad, while the rest of the beekeeping community is already smokeing their bees for calmness, while also sticking strips of poison in the hive just plain falls flat.

    [size="1"][ June 30, 2006, 08:04 AM: Message edited by: MichaelW ][/size]

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