Butter Powered Bicycle is hosting a month long blog party with the theme of smoke at her blog site, Hunger and Thirst. This is my contribution to the party:)
One day it struck me that instead of hauling my herbal leftovers outside to compost, maybe they would make good bee smoker fuel. The left over stems and not so nice leaves from garbling like Lily is doing in this photo.
Tea balls full of herbal leaves and strained bags of the remnants/marcs of long infusions, decoctions, poultices, and from alcohol tinctures are all hung on my little mini clothes line hanging over the sink, to dry thoroughly.
The leftover from infused oils is awesome as it really helps to get the fire going quick in the smoker. I often times save these herbal marcs in the freezer and reuse as boo boo helpers with the children, but then off to the smoker bag they go. This is some oil infused rose petal which always smells beautiful!
I sorted through this bag I have in the house from the past month and found I have saved in it all these different plant/herb leftovers/marc. Some from when I did my bi yearly clean out of the apothecary of things that just aren’t up to snuff anymore. In it I found cottonwood bark, sassafras roots, calendula, lemon balm, yellow dock, marshmallow, joe pye weed, mints, bee balm, regular old black Lipton tea bags which my hubby insists is the best:), elder berry and bark and some undefined dried up bits from the tea balls. Quite a gorgeous smell! I move it out to the capped bucket I keep in the bee house when I fill this bag up, so who knows what all is in that!
When my brother Eric and I first started keeping bees about 6 years ago, we did as we were taught and used rotted twines, old dried tree leaves, and cedar chips to fuel our bee smokers. We were never happy at the difficulty of getting it lit, nor with the acrid scent of the smoke. Obnoxious really, and often times we just gave up and worked the bees without it,half way through, as we would be headachy from it, the bees just seemed more agitated and the damn thing kept going out. Using these leftover herbal and wild foraged bits, the smoke is cooler, sweeter smelling, and the bees seem calmer during the whole process. We have yet to use a material that smelled nasty like the old materials we used. I can’t tell you definitively of having a preference for a certain herb or plant yet, as you can see, I just mix it all together. I will keep you posted though if I run across something that I can pin point as being a big no no or really being the best.
my buddy Ron and I last year by my hives.
Big Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx