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Hobby of the month
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beekeeping 
3rd-Jan-2005 01:03 pm
Bee smoker

Used to pacify the bees by generating smoke, which makes the bees sleepy and not attack as much, makes the hives are more easily accessable. Traditionally it seems a common material for putting in the smoker is dried cow dung (which is nasty, and after i tried it once, will not persist with, when MANY other things surfice, and smell plesanter)

Having seen a number of pictures (footnote 1) of this basic smoker, and having spoken to Mike Reddy, (footnote 2) about smokers, I have realized this roman smoker.




I picked terracotta as i have seen it in use in many other pottery items used to contain fire (for example - footnote 3), and I had some at hand.
To start I cut a number of flat rectangular slabs, and noticing that the shape of this chafing dish is a ‘basic shoe’ I cut a bottom piece oval and then fitted another piece over my hand, wet all the surfaces that contacted and trimmed. I shaped to bind all the joining surfaces, and then punched holes in the top using a pencil.







The back ‘heel’ was a 3rd piece that again got fitted, wet down and joined.
I widened the hole in anticipation of having to get hot coals in and out of the device, added a ‘curl’ onto the back (although confidence is low on it’s usablity) and left to sun dry.









1 http://www.comp.glam.ac.uk/pages/staff/mreddy/skepFAQ/

2 The Kentwell Hall beekeeper, in email conversation 2/1/5, “ .. the smoker is in fact Roman, and there is no proof that Tudor beekeepers used one of similar design. I thought I would get away with it, as it looked rather like a shoe of the period, mixed with a religious incense burner. It does have a folded back, very sturdy, handle, as you described. I had it made at Kentwell Hall by one of the authentic potters; it was from dug clay, fired in a contenporary kiln of the period, and is a pride of work. When she - a lovely women, whose name I forget, to my shame - asked me what I wanted, I put my foot on the table and said "This, with holes and a handle!", but also showed her the picture from Alston. It is excellent with a few coals from a wood fire, as a portable fire maker; swinging it to and fro to keep the embers hot, you can start a fire anywhere within 20 minutes walk! I usually put in some hot embers - not too many - then stuff the thing with dried local leaves - less smell to the smoke - and slip it under the edge of the skep and GENTLY blow; blowing too hard can put sparks in the hive, which has the opposite effect! Burned bees are not happy!”

3) www.postex.demon.co.uk/thesis/ch7/7main.htm





all the bits required

Comments 
3rd-Jan-2005 05:40 am (UTC)
Yet another hobby you have that I just learned about.
I LOVE honey. Do you love honey, or do you love bees? Or both?

3rd-Jan-2005 08:11 am (UTC) - hmmmmmmmmmmm
i actually dislike honey. but playing with the bees is cool. they buzz and divebomb, and do odd things. they work so hard and make fascinating little structures.

how did you only just learn about bees? never been stung? (btw i checked 3 hives today and got stung 3 times.. should take a foto of the angry sting on my love handle :(

3rd-Jan-2005 09:25 am (UTC) - Re: hmmmmmmmmmmm
Dude! Looks great. Now. I assume you add burning bits inside and the smoke comes out the holes...

But, have you come across in your research what was actually burnt inside? Herbs, wormword? What?

Drakey.
3rd-Jan-2005 09:28 am (UTC) - Re: hmmmmmmmmmmm
Cowdung. dried. bugger that! there's much nicer and friendier smelling substances (besides tried it and it only sorta smolders badly)

more docco on the smoker shortly this was uploaded early this morning as i was motivated...
{standby}
3rd-Jan-2005 09:33 am (UTC) - Re: hmmmmmmmmmmm
So you just had some dry cowdung hanging around huh? I thought you had to let it dry off the ground for awhile so it really lost a lot of moisture...

Have you tried Pliny's natural history for beekeeping stuffe?

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Plin.+Nat.+toc

And look - bee stuffe... Ha ha ha ha ha!

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0137&query=toc:head%3D%23607

Looks juicy...

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