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How do you keep your smoker going?

3093 Views 11 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Iddee
This is going to sound very elementary, but I'm a beginner. Also, I was in 4H, not the boy scouts. There seems to be a secret to getting the smoker going and keeping it going. It never fails, I will be in the hive and the darned thing will quit on me. I end up with some bees that are VERY unhappy with me. It's impossible to relight with gloves on. I have seen beekeepers use everything from dried sumac buds to old blue jeans. Others seem to layer twigs and leaves with great success. Any suggestions from the more experienced beekeepers?
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Best advice i was given was: Slow, steady puffing of the bellows. Following this advice helped me a lot
Have a look at this thread:

Thanks for all the tips! I had a lot better luck tonight. I even had to wait for it to go out when I was done.
As with most things, it takes some practice.

I use everything from rolled cardboard to baling twine to shredded blue jeans to cedar hamster bedding and I've found that as far as keeping a smoker lit, the fuel doesn't matter as much as the technique. When I light my smoker I usually use a few pages from a phone book and a handful of broken-up twigs. I get it going good - basically a campfire in a can - and then add whatever fuel. Lightly at first, keep puffing, then pack it down with a hive tool. Once it's lit, train yourself to reach over and puff it occasionally. In a gentle hive, it's easy to set it down and forget it for 10 minutes or so while you do a frame-by-frame inspection. Then - when you need smoke for the next hive that's a bit testy - it's too late.

In short, two things: 1) a good start, not just smoldering, but really burning, and 2) give it a few puffs every every so often.
I dont have any problems keeping it lit, getting it started in the first place is usually my problem.
Apart from that always keep it upright, sometimes shaking it can help boost it a little, and always keep plenty of whatever you are using for fuel in the smoker.
Dry Dry to start on the bottom of the smoker, above add what you have, sumac, pine combs, cotton scraps twigs, dry weeds. Build it from the bottom with dry first and light down deep inside. Keep it going reach over and puff it occasionally. I like a cool strong smoke, so I start it with dry pine needles and pine cone, but add cotton, and sumac, and twigs as the day goes on. I always keep dry dry with me although. I also use 1.00, propane click long stem lighter. I do have compressed cotton, for LONG days.

Tip, use a wine cork to stuff in cone to put the smoker out. No need to wait for it to go out. If inside a vehicle, stuff the cork and open a window. I also use a metal bucket with all my tools. I rest/Hang my smoker in the bucket for fire safety in the field. I always carry at least a bottle or two of water also, for me and incase of small fire.

Hope this helps.
I like to start off with burlap, it catches fast and then will smolder. Cedar bark stripped off of old fence post seem to work very well for me, fold it up and stuff it in hard. will smoke for an hour. If I get caught with out anything, just stuff in twigs, hay, dead grass, bark, just about anything al la natural, heard someone say they even burn dried road apples and cow chips.

G3farms said:
heard someone say they even burn dried road apples and cow chips.

I've heard the cow chips burn long but smell really bad...
Even if you think it's gone out, just hang it on the side of an empty super in the bed of your truck, odds are real good somebody is gonna pull up beside you and start pointing back there :D .
You're right there, rast. The ONLY SURE way to keep a smoker lit is to finish working the bees and place the smoker on the back of a truck. Guaranteed to stay lit the whole trip.
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