Starting smokers

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by efmesch, Sep 28, 2011.

  1. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Smokers are one of our most important tools--but sometimes, our least reliable. :eek:
    What is your method for quickly starting a good smoke and keeping it going? Do you have any particular recommendations about what kind of a smoker to use? What's your best fuel?
    Any and all thoughts are invited here.
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    smokers I think follow murphy's law... they will burn and burn and burn when you don't need them, but mysteriously go out when you need them the most.
     

  3. adamant

    adamant Member

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    pine needles and a propane plumbers torch
     
  4. Skyhigh

    Skyhigh New Member

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    As a new beek, I practiced lighting mine so I would be able to do it. Yeah...that worked, during practice! :roll: The first time I desperately needed it to light NOW, total fail. Very sad. (I feel less embarrassed now knowing smokers are tied so closely with Murphy's Law. :lol:)
     
  5. crackerbee

    crackerbee New Member

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  6. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    I use strips of paper as a starter, followed by a handfull of pine shavings and ample bellows action. Once there's a good ember base, 2 handfulls of pine shavings pressed down, more bellows, and I continue until I think I have enough for what I want to do.

    A cork in the spout to put it out and placed in a metal bucket or hung on a metal fence until cool. As dry as it is here, I've sparingly used the smoker this summer.

    If I try to light it in a hurry, it never works! :)

    Walt
     
  7. JPthebeeman

    JPthebeeman New Member

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    I like to light mine in advance of working my bees or performing a cut out. I prefer burlap but have used just about anything from dead grass to weeds on a fence. I keep a propane torch with me at all times. The largest smoker I could get has always been the ticket for me.

    If you can light your fuel at the bottom, then stuff it in the smoker it tends to not go out nearly as much. After it gets smoking pretty good a few insurance puffs here and there is usually all it takes to keep it rolling until the next refueling.

    When you're done, either a plug such as a stick can preserve what fuel is left, but mostly I just lay mine on its side and it will go out within a few minutes.


    ...JP
     
  8. herblover

    herblover New Member

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    I like to use old worn out raggedy jeans cut up and rolled together loosely.
     
  9. 2kooldad

    2kooldad New Member

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    i use cedar shavings in mine....and news paper or dry magnolia leaves to start it up(only cause they are all around the hives...they work fine to use as the fuel too)

    First i put in maybe 1/2 inch of shavings...then lit news paper....puff till i get a flame an the smoke stops...put in half a handfull more shavings...puff till i get a flame again then stuff the smoker full an semi tight while giving it a puff here an there...i dont have too many problems but i puff it now an again an leave it so a thread of smoke floats past the hive entrance...for the returning bees (i dont know if it has any effect what so ever on returning bees....sounds good tho :)
     
  10. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I put a piece of cloth (cotton) in the bottom of the smoker,squirt some charcoal lighter on it, light it, and start adding wood chips or ground up leaves to it. I have lit it while working my hives 60 miles north of home, and have it still smoking when i get back home. I also keep it in a metal bucket, and have people people pass me on the highway and yell, your truck beds on fire. :lol: Jack
     
  11. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    for me its oak twigs then branches when its lit, and I too use the plumbers torch , oaks everywhere here and it stays lit a long time ;)
     
  12. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Like adamant, pine needles and a plumbers torch. :thumbsup:
     
  13. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    The trigger self lighting barbeque lighters work well and are pocket sized. My smoker is a bit on the small size and I find it important to include some fair sized chunks of wood in with the fuel so it has a bit more staying power.
     
  14. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    Welcome back Perry. :yahoo:

    Walt
     
  15. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Pine shavings used as animal bedding (Make sure they are pure and not treated) and a propane torch. Put in a handful, light and pump till a good flame is attained, stuff until full while pumping bellows until another large flame flairs up, then close lid. This method was shown to me by my county bee inspector.
     
  16. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    The ground is covered with pine bark mulch all around my hives anyway, and a few bits of dry leaves and pine needles there as well. So in dry weather I pack a nice dry gallon bag supply of that to use several times in my smoker.
     
  17. Bsweet

    Bsweet Member

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    First off I plug the spout of the smoker when I'm done with it to put out the fire and save the left over fuel.

    When I'm ready to start the smoker, I dump out any fuel in it as there is always some partly burnt fuel.
    A small wad of newspaper(half a page) is lit and placed in the smoker, a few puffs of the bellows to keep the paper burning and then some wood shavings and a few more puffs to get them lit then I begain to add the left over fuel to it and puff to a good amount of smoke.
    The primary fuel I use is wood pellets and like all wood that is partly burnt it will catch fire much faster than new stuff. Jim
     
  18. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    napknin to start, pine needles next, then a few handfuls of damp oak leaves once the ember bed is established. worked well for me.
     
  19. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Really great food for thought from you all. One item not mentioned that I like, is rolled corrugated carton. There's no difficulty in getting plenty of it.
    I prepare a roll (with the corrugations from top to bottom, not sidewise) the size of the cannister and tear one corner so that the paper is separated at the bottom. If the breeze doesn't give me trouble with the matches, it lights quickly and once it's burning well, I place it in the smoker and puff well. It can last a long time.
    If I've got a good set of embers going inside, it's easy enough to re-pack and keep the smoke coming nicely with weeds from around the hives. Very slightly damp weeds/leaves are best for a good long-lasting smoke.
    Turning it off is easy with a piece of sponge rubber that I stuff into the upper hole and another that is placed between the bellows and the lower hole.
     
  20. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    actually those same green weeds will snuff the smoker as well, stuffing the hole with them