The quest for fire began in the time of the caveman. My quest for fire began in my first year of beekeeping. In Boy Scouts, you learn how to make a fire with two items or something like that. Unfortunately, I didn't go to Boy Scouts; consequently, I am lousy at starting fires. Well, I may be ok at starting them, but I can't seem to make fires that last a long time. It always amazed me how my beekeeping mentor Dale could get a fire started that could last all day inside a few minutes and I, on the other hand, fuss way too much over getting everything in just right the right order for making long-lasting smoke.
Why do beekeepers use smoke?
Smoke is an essential tool for beekeepers when working with their hives. When smoke is introduced, the bees become less aggressive and more docile. This is because the smoke triggers a survival response in the bees that causes them to focus on preparing to flee rather than defending the hive. In addition, the smoke masks the scent of any pheromones released by the guard bees, which signals alarm to the rest of the hive. Overall, the use of smoke makes the job of the beekeeper easier and safer.
I have to admit I still struggle with this today.
When we were researching beeswax uses, I learned about these beautiful pine cone DIY fire starters. These homemade fire starters were positioned as holiday gifts, complete with colored wax and sparkles. Here, I am suggesting a far more utilitarian use for these cute little pine cones and that is as homemade fire starters for your favorite beekeeper to use in his/her smoker.
The best place to start in making homemade fire-starters is by gathering your supplies; here's a list:
- Pine Cones
- Old burlap bag
- Candlewick material or natural fiber twine
- Old muffin tin
- Brown paper (to protect whatever surface you are working on)
- Double boiler
With all the supplies you need gathered, it's time to get started on making these wonderfully useful fire starters. First, melt beeswax in a double boiler, being careful not to overheat (anything over 195 degrees is risky). Now, take an old muffin tin and line it with burlap- imagine it just like with paper muffin liners. To make dipping easy, tie a jute string around each pinecone. Dip each pinecone in wax and ensure complete coverage. Pop the wax-coated pinecones into the burlap-lined tin and leave the jute string as it can come handy as a future wick.
This project took us about 30-45 minutes to complete, and we had fun.
Make Homemade Fire Starters for your favorite beekeeper
When it comes to making pinecone fire starters, the possibilities are endless. You might find the perfect technique that suits your preferences and makes the process even more enjoyable. And the result? Absolutely amazing! Whether you're using them in your fire pit or gifting them to your favorite beekeeper, these fire starters put the chemical fluids and dry grass to shame. Plus, making them is a fun and rewarding craft that will bring the community of DIYers together. So don't shy away from experimentation, get creative, and see where your journey takes you!
We had a lot of fun doing this, and cleanup was a breeze. Beeswax is easy to remove by putting the muffin tin in the freezer! If you have any tips or additions that you'd like to add to this project, please feel free to share them in the comments.
Homemade Fire Starters
A pragmatic and perfect gift for your favorite beekeeper. Getting the fire going and keeping it going to have smoke handy when beekeeping is helpful to new beekeepers. Keeps them safe.
- 1-2 cups beeswax
- 2 feet natural fiber string
- 12 pine cones
- 1 roll burlap
Melt wax in a double boiler (make one if needed, as we did)
- Dip burlap into wax and set in place in a muffin tin to form nest for pinecone.
- Wrap pinecones with wick or natural string to make dipping easy
- Dip the first pine cone into the wax using string or tongs.
- Coat the pine cone thoroughly, repeat every few minutes or so as the wax sets up.
- Hold the cone over the melted wax until it stops dripping.
- Place it onto the muffin tin with burlap, allow to set up.
- Repeat with the remaining pine cones.
- NOTE: If you have trouble getting them out of the muffin tin, put the tin into the freezer, and they will pop out. Once the wax has hardened, your pine cone fire-starters are ready for use.