I keep a little pile of shredded wood mulch chips/bark/dry pine twigs/firewood sweepings next to me while I work the bees. Every once in a while I open the smoker and throw a little handful of that into it and puff it up again....the small amount of dried wood bits keeps things going and doesn't quit as quickly as 'lightweight' fuel like twine does.
I use the same stuff. I rough it up good, breaking it into a few small pieces. I then toss in a few pine pet bedding chips in and light that. It gets the cotton going pretty good. I then throw a little grass on for some extra smoke.
A can of WD-40 can be used as lighter fluid. Spray a short burst into the material then light it off. Leave the top open for a bit to ensure the WD-40 gets burned off before closing the smoker. Sometimes it helps to open the smoker up between use to allow more air in.
Sounds like you're starting it from the top of the fuel. Start from the bottom. Light a little wad of straw or whatever and push it to the bottom without tamping it down real hard. Puff it until you have heavy smoke, then add more fuel a handful at a time while puffing. Once it's going good you can push the wad of fuel down hard and keep filling it to the top.
I have had alot of problems also. I found that if i put in about 3 pieces of crumpled up paper in it and light them then when the fire is hot and burning good i put in a bunch of sawdust. this really smolders well and has been staying lit. getting the fire good and hot seems to be important and then making sure you pump some air through it every couple of min. I have found i end up with alot of sawdust from making all of my hive boxes. some people have said pine needles work good also.
First I would NOT use WD-40...I don't think blowing burning chemicals into your hive is a good idea. Second a good way to keep your smoker going is to poke several holes in the bottom of your smoker with a nail, other than that, I have some of the fuel you have and I do not like it. It might be OK if I had 20+ hive to go thru but for 6 hives I prefer burlap.
I start with a wad of paper in the bottom, light it and add sticks and pieces of wood from the woodpile. Let it burn down to good hot coals (about 15 min). Fill the smoker up with cedar chips (pet litter) and puff away. Mine stays lit for a couple of hours. And the cedar chips make the smoke smell good.
Read quite a few things on cedar not being so good for insects, but hey if you use that and no problems that's great! What ivé started using is pine bedding from Tractor Supply. Works great! I usually start smoker with one sheet of crumpled up newspaper, stuff it down in there, a few puffs, add a few kindling size twigs, few puffs, then start adding the pine few puffs as i add more until its going good, then stuff it on there to the top puffs every now and then and stays lit until i'm done!
1. There is a round metal grate with legs at the bottom of my smokers. The legs are there to let air get to the bottom of the smoking fuel. If the grate is upside down, the air won't flow underneath and the fire is harder to keep going.
2. Keep all the waxy paper that comes between sheets of foundation. Great for getting the smoker started.
3. Get a cheap butane lighter with the long snout of the type for lighting gas grills. It is easier to get the flame to the bottom of the smoker than with a match. Also, lights better than a match in damp weather.
4. Pine straw, hay, etc is good and I usually add dry wood shavings and chips and pine cones.
5. WD-40 is perfectly safe to use if you let it burn off as stated. You can tell it has burned off when all material in the smoker is gone. Then refill your smoker with non-petroleum products and work your bees.
6. If all goes well, you will emit more smoke starting the smoker and keeping it going than you will putting smoke on the bees.
the most common mistake i see is getting wrapped up in the inspection and fogetting to "pump up" the smoker. they do go out if you dont. as an aside, the key ingredient in WD4O is -fish oil. good luck,mike
I am new...But i was a Boy Scout!!! I learned to start fires by burning progressively larger fuels. Start small then work up to your main fuel! I was taught to burn paper, than kindling, then smal branches than larger branches in my smoker. Put solvents and liquid fuels in your smokers if you like....not me boys! It aint that hard to starts a fire!:scratch:
A Michael Bush style can with holes in it might help keep the smoker lit. I never made/used one but it would prevent some of the smothering. I light a paper towel and push it into the smoker. Then I put a handful of pine pet bedding and pump the smoker to get it burning HOT, then I add more bedding and pump the smoker to get it off to a good start.
This year i was trying to light my smoker for the first time and there was an old bag of corncob bedding sitting on a shelf beside the smoker along with some old burr comb and a propane torch.
I put an inch or so of corncob bedding in the bottom and a few chunks of burrcomb. Lay the smoker over on a 45 degree angle and shake a bit to get the bedding to lay to the side.
lit the propane torch and held it in the smoker for about a minute while puffing the billows to get a good flame going.
stood the smoker up right and puffed a few times to get the flames going more
then stuff the top part with green grass. I find the only way to get this mix to go out is to dump it. I had it smolder like this for over 3 hours on its own one day after i was done with it.
If you use anything granular i would recomend putting a wad of green grass on top as it helps hold the chunks in the smoker. I didn't do this the first time and put the smoker over too far and a small chunck fell into the hive.. didn't do any damamge but i was worried for a minute or two.
this what works for me is I start with news paper, then start stuffing hay in while pumping the bellows, the more hay, then when I get nice thick cool smoke I add two goos handfulls of wood pelets my smoker lasts for hours.
And I would never ever never use Petrol products like wD40 in my smoker. No way.
I save the lint from the dryer and stuff it the cardboard from t.p. rolls, smash that and fold it slightly, stuff that in the bottom of the smoker, add some wood shavings and more lint, maybe a little newspaper start the fire. I light the bottom of the pile and then add more wood shavings when it's going good.
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