I don't know about the medicinal value of the berries, but they sure make some of the finest honey I have ever tasted. I would rank sumac honey above any other variety. Even above crystal clear sourwood.
If you are really bored in the dead of winter try this:
Pull the mouseguards or entrance reducers off of a number of hives on a day with temps in the low 40s.
Slip a new sticky board in for ONE HOUR.
After one hour, pull the boards and record the # of mites on them.
Then, one by one, smoke them with ????? and immediatly reinstall the board for one hour.
Try to be as uniform in your procedures as possible.
Tell us what you see.
Its only 6 days until the days start getting longer!
Are you ready for spring?
I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
That makes my opinion beyond dispute!
Wish sumac grew around here. I wouldnt mind testing it out. Does sumac grow along I-5 in california between the oregon border and bakersfield?
Someone above mentioned a study (USDA-Beltsville?) from a while back that tested a number of fuels for mite drop. I remember that one too, and also remember that it didn't identify any one substance that was particularly good. I also recall that a number of fuels were tried, including some strange ones (grapefruit leaves seemed strange to me anyway). Again, no easy fix by just using a different smoker fuel.
For my own use, I've always gone after what is most convenient for me. I like to buy a bale of cedar chips at WalMart for $7 and use that. A little newspaper at the bottom to get things going, pile on the cedar, puff it good to keep it going strong, pile on more, pack firmly with the hive tool, and it's good for 20+ hive inspections. Smells good too. That bale will last me a good while and WalMart always has more. I suspect any farm supply store has it. I've seen it at Tractor supply and Southern States here in NC.
I've worked with commercial guys on the MD Eastern Shore where they use pine needles (pine shats, they say). The smoke would choke a horse, but it works fine on bees and the pine needles are everywhere, free for the taking.
I gave up long ago on a fuel that solves the mite problem. Convenience is king, I say!
Last edited by Beezzzz; 12-28-2007 at 12:44 PM.
I am a big believer of essential oils. I use wintergreen oil in my smogger (in mineral oil) and I put fresh leaves from bee balm or anise hyssop in the smoker. I figure if mites don't like minty smells, the smoke will agitate them enough to drop off the bees. I have screen boards on all my hives also.