Beekeepers love a good argument about the most minute details of beekeeping, and smoker fuel doesn’t escape the debate. You will see all sorts of fuels mentioned from wood chips and leaves to grasses and pine needles… but from experience, the recommendation to use hessian sacks has been the best smoker fuel advice to date.
The great thing about hessian is that it smoulders for a long time, doesn’t cause resin/residue build up in the lid of the smoker (like pine needles) and is easy to light.
If you are looking for hessian sacks/bags in Canberra, head to your local coffee roaster/wholesaler. When picking out hessian sacks make sure they aren’t interwoven with nylon/plastic strands (often used to increase strength) and also check that any printed sections aren’t using rubberised/plastic screened inks.
I find the following weave thickness works well
Cut the hessian sacks into strips about the size of a hive tool
Pack the strips firmly down into the smoker leaving some space for air to move throughout
Light a small section of the hessian and wait for the flames to build up, fanning with bellows if required
When the majority of the strips are alight, close the lid so the hessian starts to smoulder and then enjoy trouble free smoke for your next hive inspection!