On my courses I always say to new beekeepers that the only equipment you really need to start is the hive, a suit, a hive tool and a smoker. The thing is though that included in that list should be a blow torch.
First of all one of the biggest problems new (and often experienced) beekeepers have is keeping the smoker alight. There are many possible reasons for this but one of the main ones is not getting sufficient heat into the bottom of the smoker to keep the fuel going. I always start my smoker with egg boxes and then add pine cones followed by a ring of grass to act as a filter and cool the smoke. For years now I have always lit the fuel with a blow torch and it rarely lets me down. I can then add the cones and grass afterwards. On the rare the smoker goes out it is very quick to light again with my trusty blow torch.
They say cleanliness is next to godliness. Well all I know that my blowtorch is my best friend when it comes to cleanliness. Scorching brood boxes, floors,supers and roofs is the best way of keeping disease at bay. Don’t set fire to the wood but make sure it is well scorched and any wax or propolis boils under the flame. Whenever a piece of equipment comes out of use get out the blow torch. Don’t forget to remove any runners in order to scorch underneath and I don’t like any plastic parts in my hives. If you can’t scorch it then leave it out is my motto.
So here ends the tribute to the beekeeper’s friend. A blow torch is cheap and efficient and easy to carry in your kit. Go out and buy one and scorch away.