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derekthegardener 

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Hi all, I'm another new bee, and an Irish one at that, not very many on site yet! I've recently set up my first hive and got a colony from a member of the local association, of which I'm a member. While in UK at a seminar recently I bought a deluxe beginners kit from one of the UK's main suppliers. My problem is that the smoker is small and when I use the cardboard fuel supplied I have always run out of smoke half way through the inspection. I've been careful not to puff away madly as told on the beekeeping course I attended this spring, but even being frugal with the smoke it doesn't last. Any suggestions on different fuel, or do I need to splash out (again!) on a bigger smoker?
 

MuswellMetro 

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Hi all, I'm another new bee, and an Irish one at that, not very many on site yet! I've recently set up my first hive and got a colony from a member of the local association, of which I'm a member. While in UK at a seminar recently I bought a deluxe beginners kit from one of the UK's main suppliers. My problem is that the smoker is small and when I use the cardboard fuel supplied I have always run out of smoke half way through the inspection. I've been careful not to puff away madly as told on the beekeeping course I attended this spring, but even being frugal with the smoke it doesn't last. Any suggestions on different fuel, or do I need to splash out (again!) on a bigger smoker?


welcome DtheG

cotton waste from £hornes gives you a very long burn, but try old wrotten dry wood, pine cones etc just to see if it last longer for you....or keep several spare rolled up cardboards fuels

personally a big one is better :eek: i got mine off ebay about €30 with guard...i kept burning my rubber gloves with my old one

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Large-Stainle..._Pet_Supplies_Bee_Keeping&hash=item3caea473b4
 
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Heather 

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Try not using smoke- you may find gently does it- cover the bees you are not looking at with a clean cloth - and 'bingo' bees are calm. And not panicked by smoke!
 

Friar Tuck 

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I prefer not using smoke as well BUT i always have one smokin' i used a bit of news paper to start it up then anything i can find lying around the farm dry grass, dry sheep poo :ack2: bark twigs anything that burns ;o):cheers2:
 

snoop 

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I use a bit of cardboard ( an old toilet roll ) to start mine but there is usually plenty of dried grass around or old furze bushes ( mind the flames off them) I have a small one & just top it up withwhatever is withering around the place once its lighting . In Iireland also
 

susbees 

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No smoke here either unless all else fails (rarely). Light syrup spray or water with a drop of peppermint oil if it's a hot day. They love both.

And as Heather says less is best. It could be a vicious circle of behaviour issues if they associate you with the fear of having their home burnt out each time you meet...not that you will of course :).
 

burren 

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Hi DtG, another "Ireland" here! After 2 seasons its still a bit hit and miss with my smoker. Last year I was having good success with dried grass,this year not so much. I am now trying corry paper, (rolled up) toilet/kitchen towel tubes and DRIED GRASS!! Good luck
 

8LGM 

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No smoke here either unless all else fails (rarely). Light syrup spray or water with a drop of peppermint oil if it's a hot day. They love both.

And as Heather says less is best. It could be a vicious circle of behaviour issues if they associate you with the fear of having their home burnt out each time you meet...not that you will of course :).
Light syrup spray?

What mix and how do you use?

Very very interested in the idea as I always hate the use of smoke but up till now had no alternative. Would love to find a bee friendly way.
 

derekthegardener 

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Thanks

Thank you all for the suggestions. I really like the idea of using water or syrup spray. Will have to try that on my next inspection. One of the local beekeepers has suggested denim from old jeans/jackets, which I used this evening. I got much more time and still had smoke to spare when I was finished. Bees a bit miffed this evening, I took eight stings out of my gloves, don't fancy going commando yet!!!
 

Heather 

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bees don't seem to like denim!! -but that's when you wear it- maybe they like it burnt.

I have an old oak tree that has rotted- makes great smoke that drifts on for ages- it is just there as S.O.S - and always seems to be in MY direction - when I can find the smoker to use!! Just have for a hive I don't know or have suspicions of being queenless as they can be a frantic colony.
 
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YorkshireBees 

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After having purchased one lot of cardboard roll smoker fuel I found it so easy to make my own. Re-cycling waste cardboard boxes from where I work or you can usuaully get them from a shop if you ask.
A bigger smoker helps for sure and depending on the conditions I have had my smoker last for upto 3 apiary inspections. Light use and a cork in the spout afterwards!
 

susbees 

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Light syrup spray?

What mix and how do you use?

Very very interested in the idea as I always hate the use of smoke but up till now had no alternative. Would love to find a bee friendly way.
Standard 1:1 with a tiny bit of lemon juice (preservative and might actually invert a bit of the sugar). Find a sprayer that gives them a light misting. If you get it on your washing up gloves spray it off with the water: making your gloves sticky is a good way to get stung - bee sticks to you, panics and clang :(.

The water spray has either a drop of chamomile oil or peppermint oil and they prefer this when it's hot or it can be sprayed above your head if need be! Used as a means of stopping bees flying to make up mating nucs and things it can be blasted at a persistant guard bee who'll probably wonder where the rain-cloud went ;).
 

RoofTops 

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I use wood shaving bought for animal bedding. You have to be careful not to puff too hard or else it can chuck out the odd spark but once lit it stays alight. For lighting it I put an inch or so in the bottom of the smoker, light with a match and then puff away, shaking the smoker every now and again. Add some more shavings, puff until they light then shake and puff again. When you have a nice hot bed of shavings and the smoker body itself has warmed up (important, otherwise it can go out) then you can fill the smoker to the top with shavings. A few more puffs and that's it.

I have used the cotton waste but it was a pain to light (gas blowlamp job)and compared to wood shavings, expensive. Dried grass burns too quickly but can be useful in an emergency. I would be wary of cardboard because of the possible presence of chemicals such as fire retardents and other chemicals used in its manufacture. Dried New Forest pony dung is used by a bee farmer I know and cow dung is used by humans for cooking fires in some countries so that may be the green (brown?) way forward.
 

Monsieur Abeille 

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Found my girls react very badly to the shredded cardboard found in Thornes packaging - pity as it lights and smokes very well. Also tried creating my own rolled up corrugated cardboard rolls but they gave off a very nasty smoke - as mentioned you never know what they have been treated with.

Got some pellets from Thornes that give a nice cool smoke (when they finally catch), otherwise just use a collection of twigs and dried forage. Got a collection of pine cones as well, but not really tried them yet. A friend also suggested that dried lavender stems are enjoyed by the bees.
 

buzz 

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I use grass cutting from a rotary mower. I try to use minimal smoke, and only smoke lightly, to keep bees out of the way when checking frames.

Ian Homer gave a talk at our local BKA recently and recommended pony food -grass 'nuts' - the ones that contain only compressed grass, as a smoker fuel.

I havent tried them but they last for ages - apparently.
 

roche 

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I use them - bit of paper and egg carton to get them going. A small smoker will last about three hours. Normally a bit of grass in the top to stop sparks.
 

Rosti 

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As previously posted. When you buy stuff from thornes they very kindly send you a nice big box full of semi-shredded cardboard smoker fuel - for free - a rarity with Thornes I think you'll agree. Works a treat though.
 

Nik 

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I use corri cardboard from packaging. I first used the stuff that came with with some building materials and rolled it to the size for my smoker and tied it with string. Easy to light and you can carry a spare if you need to top up the smoker part way through.

This year I landed a roll of this stuff, 5' high and 2' diameter for £1 !! This means I have enough for small rolls for a quick inspection in a small smoker and if I am going through all the hives (currently 9) I can put a big roll in the big smoker and carry a spare just in case. Works really well and rolling the stuff up and tiying it is another of those winter jobs!
 

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