I just raked and bagged up 14 leaf bags of pine needles today. I usually go through 2-3 bags. The rest of these will go to other of my club members. Now was a good time for me and may be ok in your area too.
I grabbed a couple of grocery bag's worth last week. I don't know why I never thought of going big and getting a trash bag's worth. I guess it doesn't matter as I just grab handfuls of dead needles when I need them. Glad the trees are there, but man I thank God they're not near where I park my car anymore. Pollen everywhere in the spring, huge amounts of sap dripping almost all year round, millions of dead pine needles in the fall, and various pine cones dropping everywhere.
So I have used pine cones and pine needles until someone in my bee club said they emit a chemical that may be toxic to the bees. A few other people have said this too.
Any truth to this? I haven't used pine needles in a long time but have them all over my yard and may use them again.
I find pine needles in a smoker are tough on me so I have drifted to punk wood, pine shavings and some needles. I collect my Eastern White Pine needles for mulching - more to learn. So far it has had a significant impact (or was it pure luck) with Blueberry bushes - my best tasting and quantity ever). I am sure it contains pure magic after watching pine needle mulch on my dying Witch Hazel. This has been especially rewarding during the three month, extreme drought. I have more to learn on how to apply and what to apply it to.
Anyone have more data or experience with pine needle mulch. One of the things I have to look up.
Just use whatever is laying around. From Rusty Burlew's list, anything works!
When I lived in suburbia I had a pine tree and would save the needles.
Now I live on 3.5 acres in the country and just grab what's dry. This usually includes a lot of oak and redwood leaves, dried grass (I love using the dried edges of our lemongrass), and I'll throw in a pine cone here and there, or whatever. If it burns, is dry and clean, I'll use it.
If things get a little wet, I'll use the pine shavings for our pet bunny. It's cheap and lasts a REALLY long time.
With that said though, and the rainy season around the corner, I should go rake up some some forest debris to bag up and keep dry.
This is all good to know.......
In regards to pine needles as mulch, your blueberries like it because of the low PH. Blueberries do better in acidic soils. Growing up we has a small blueberry farm and every fall and spring we would lay down some Sulphur and a acidic fertilizer. Having bees helps too!
Pro tip: I always put a hand full of greens above the packed down material in the smoker. I really like green sage, lavender, or the lemongrass. It not only makes it smell a little better but makes sure the smoke is cool.
I can also tell when my smoker is running out of fuel when the wet material starts to "crackle".
SeaCumber, I store mine in the large plastic bags I put them in. It may have helped that it was a windy day and dried the needles really well. I have an unused space in a corner of my garage that has two shelves that come together and leave an empty space 3' x 3' x 8'. I threw the bags in there and will take them out in the late winter/early spring when our bee club starts up again.
Eric Walls, I googled pine needles are toxic to bees as I had never heard that. There were about 3 sources that said there was no toxic reactions from the smoke. I've used it for years and no side effect to me or the bees.
These needles came from a neighbor yard that has 2 pretty big short leaf pines in them. They are happy to get the needles raked up and I am happy to use them in the smoker.
I was only partially joking about the magic mushrooms in a previous post; there are some dandy big specimens of amanita mushrooms under the trees I rake the needles from. If you are a mushroom picker you would be familiar with the name. Some in the family have been used as a halucinogen and others to make fly poison so I would not deliberately smoke them. They are pretty obvious though and easy to avoid.
Thanks for the info on pine needles/pine cones. I had suspect they weren't toxic. I also like the suggestion of wet grass on top. I do that too and find it helps cool the smoke.
Mtnmke-I spent many summers down in the Santa Cruz area, love the boardwalk. My grandparents lived in Aptos and my uncle lives up by the Mystery Spot. They own a restaurant in Aptos called Persephone.
Another fuel that makes a lot of smoke is sage brush. Saw dust and old cotton clothing also work fine. DO try to avoid blatantly toxic stuff to burn.
Basically, all smoke is toxic, so go as mild as you can get away with. I used to run some pretty mean bees that made a LOT of honey for a semi-arid area. That requires a lot of smoke.
If you have mellow bees, go ahead and use less smoke, work without gloves, etc. Just be careful of Africanized bees usurping your beehives. They can be about as mean as the "Killer bee" B-films and the media stories. I would not want to be caught opening a hot colony with no veil, no shirt, no gloves. I have had to run over a half-mile with pi$$ed off bees chasing me the whole way - AHB colonies defend up to a mile.
It would be good to approach fully suited up, open the hives, find them in happy, mellow, peaceful mode and THEN take your veil off. For my money and effort, a bee suit is just common sense. I wear it and work a little harder and faster than I should, but then, I tend to run lots of bees and I try to take very good care of them, which involves taking quick peek on the 1st, 11th and 21st of each month in the warm season.
They DO NOT LIKE queen rearing operations, and I wear a sweatshirt under my suit in drone and queen rearing season, even if it's 98 degrees outside. Hey, this is beekeeping, and ya got'ta cowboy up for it.
I even put a computer fan in the back of my old bee suit, with a battery pack on my belt. That setup kept the sweat down considerably. I'll probably do that again to my new suit, only front and back this time.
There is also a cooler full of ice tea in the grafting tent which I usually consume entirely. And you can bet that sweatshirt comes off inside the grafting tent! I should seek out a nice, cool Indian sweat lodge after grafting.inch:
A young immigrant from Mexico who bought some of my honey said he used to help his grandfather with his hives. He said dried pieces of corn cob are the best fuel for the smoker. Anyone tried that? I haven't gotten my hands on any yet.
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