by Ginger Davidson www.GeezBeezHoney.com
Wow, I just received 5 days of intense ‘bee therapy’. In this case, ‘bee therapy’ refers to spending time amongst a dozen or so Midwestern beekeepers at the Purdue University Bee Lab and being immersed in nothing but bees for those days. It was a beekeeper heaven.
Our goal during this timeframe was to create some awesome queens by swapping some of the best genetics between states. The added value was the other things we learned. If you’ve ever had trouble keeping your smoker going, you’ll want to hear about the first tip.
Dave Shenefield grew up working bees and is a bee guru, in my opinion. His answer to a cool burning, long lasting smoker fuel is wood pellets. Yes, the wood pellets used in a wood burning stove.
After returning home, I stopped by our local farm supply store to inquire since I don't own one of these types of stoves. With temperatures in the high 90’s this summer, the 40 pound bags are now located in the furthest corner of the store. To my surprise, a premium bag of oak pellets was only $4.50. What a deal! I’ll take one! I’m to the point where I can’t run around picking up dry pine needles or other natural products. I’d love too but just don’t have the time. I’ve tried cedar shavings, pine shavings, smoker fuel, cotton seed hulls, burlap, and even twine (which I found out later was hemp and caused my husband to question my interest in bees).
The second surprise is that the employee helping me locate this ‘out of season item’ was interested in beekeeping. He had purchased all the equipment to start his own hive but forgot to order the bees. So, I’m going to sell him some bees and I invited him to attend one of our club meetings.
But, back to the smoker. To use the wood pellets, Dave starts the fire with a small piece of wadded up newspaper and then adds the pellets. Another beekeeper from Ohio chimed in that if you get too much flame going, just top it off with a handful of green grass and it helps to keep your smoke cool. It all worked like a charm. Hopefully, this will be my smoker fuel of choice from here on.