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What kind if smoker fuel do you guys use? Is there one that is better than the other? Or worse?
 

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Pine needles and leaves. Use pine needles to get it going then add leaves. Straight pine needles work fine too.
 

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Don't have any experience with it but probably. If you use natural leaf litter you'll find certain species burn better and others smolder better. I use dry pine needles to get my smoker lit then pile on oak leaves. Oak leaves don't hold a flame but they'll smoke for a long time. Pine needles have a lot of sap so they hold a flame great but I find they'll burn out quicker than oak leaves unless they're green or only partially cured, but green needles don't hold a flame so you still have to start with dry ones. Try dry cedar needles and see how it goes. If they burn out quick, add some other leaves on top.
 

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Yep, oak leaves works great for me. After the smoker gets going keep mashing them in till you can't get anymore in and it'll last a long time. I also rake up oak leaves and keep them in a large trash bag to use when it rains and the ones on the ground are wet.
 

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There is a fine line between packing them tight so you don't have to reload for a while and smothering your embers lol. Like building a fire without lighter fluid, start small and add incrementally.
 

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We usually use wood rot. But some pieces of rotten wood give too much heat (birch, oak), some irritate the bees with a pungent odor (spruce, pine). It is more preferable to use aspen or willow rot. But it burns out very quickly
 

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I have a pellet stove, so I started using wood pellets. It's easy enough to carry a coffee can full of extra pellets in the tool bag, and a lot easier than scrounging for leaves/needles/dead grass.

Just have to be careful not to get it going too good, or it can warp and burn out the the ventilated plate in the bottom of the smoker.
 

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As you can tell, just about anything works.

I think it's more important in how you pack it than what you use.

I rake up oak leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, and then mix in some point pine shavings in a bucket and that's easy enough for me.

However, I like to put a little green sage, rosemary, or just weeds at the very top of the smoker. I originally did it to make sure the smoke was cool, but when I didn't use it I found i was blowing out a lot of small stuff so I like how it keeps everything inside as well.
 

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Cool smoke is the key to not having mad bees. That's why I pack mine so tight after it's going good. Get a good fire, then lots and lots of dry leaves or whatever then damp leaves, grass, or whatever on top of that. Blow it on your arm and face (I'm older so can't see eggs anymore with a veil on so smoking myself helps a lot). If it's hot to you it's hot to the bees and they can get really aggressive. After it burns a while you'll notice the smoke changing and coming out on it's on. Time to add more leaves then damp or green stuff. Cool smoke equals "cool" bees :)
 

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Muskrat-my comments were more for new beekeepers who are trying to learn their way around a smoker. I've watched enough people try to light fires in my life to know very few humans have that skill mastered anymore without the help of lighter fluid lol. I do pack my down tight as well but still occasionally put my embers out if I don't let enough heat build before packing it in.
 

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Muskrat-my comments were more for new beekeepers who are trying to learn their way around a smoker. I've watched enough people try to light fires in my life to know very few humans have that skill mastered anymore without the help of lighter fluid lol. I do pack my down tight as well but still occasionally put my embers out if I don't let enough heat build before packing it in.
And you're exactly right(y)! If you don't get it going good it'll go out for sure, but they need to make sure they're calming that hot stuff down some before blowing it in the hive. Hot smoke will make calm bees hot in more ways than one:)
 

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However, I like to put a little green sage, rosemary, or just weeds at the very top of the smoker. I originally did it to make sure the smoke was cool, but when I didn't use it I found i was blowing out a lot of small stuff so I like how it keeps everything inside as well.
Yeah, I put a bunch of green grass in the top of mine too, to keep embers from coming out. My field can get pretty dry at times and if it caught fire I'd be screwed. I put a bit of steel wool in the air vent at the bottom for the same reason.

There was a fire got started across the road from me, a couple of years ago. By the time the VFD got there it was so big that the little pumper truck was never going to put it out. It took several hours of two choppers flying water in to get it under control.
 

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Yeah, I put a bunch of green grass in the top of mine too, to keep embers from coming out. My field can get pretty dry at times and if it caught fire I'd be screwed. I put a bit of steel wool in the air vent at the bottom for the same reason.

There was a fire got started across the road from me, a couple of years ago. By the time the VFD got there it was so big that the little pumper truck was never going to put it out. It took several hours of two choppers flying water in to get it under control.
That's a really good point. Mine has certainly blown out embers when it's in need of a fuel refill.

And being in CA, you certainly don't need to tell me how bad they can get. We had to evacuate last year as a rogue lightning storm caused a bunch of fires that all crew together and burned about half of our county down last year, including one of our old growth redwood parks. Scary stuff!

And isn't steel wool highly flammable?
 
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