Author Topic: Honey extraction  (Read 1196 times)

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Offline RAST

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Honey extraction
« on: July 18, 2021, 03:22:14 pm »
 I don't know how complete this will be with so many different methods, this has worked for me.
    Step 1 
 One starts with removing the capped honey from the hive, if the majority of the comb in a super is capped it is usually dried enough to extract. The popular method when in doubt is the shake test where one hold the frame with uncapped honey horizontal (sans bees) and gives it one or two rapid shakes and sees if nectar shakes out. If not or just a couple of drops it is ok. One can always purchase a honey refractometer to test it also.
 Now you have to get the bees off of the honey frames, I used two methods this year because my back was out and it killed me just toting a five frame of honey comb. A healthy strong person can remove and load the entire super after getting the bees out of it. One can use a porter bee escape which requires two trips a day apart, or use a fume board to drive the bees down, blow them out with a leaf blower or remove one frame at by shaking and or brushing. Having no personal experience with a porter bee escape, I will leave them to another.
 I used a gas powered leaf blower one year due to the number of supers and wanted to try it. Put a piece of plywood on the ground, set the super on end and blew from the bottom up. It was not real efficient and had ten million bees in the air and some damaged and dead ones on the ground. Difficult to lift, set in my truck and get covered without a lot of bees getting back in them.
 A fume board works well, usually similar to a telescopic cover that sets on top the super instead of over it. You do not want the felt or cloth material inside it to touch the tops of your frames and stink them up from the Honey Bandit, Robber or whatever you purchase to squeeze onto the material. Remove the hive cover, apply an even amount onto the cloth spreading it as you apply kind of like writing on a cake. Give it about five minutes and most have moved down into the supers and they can be removed or the individual frames removed as I did and transported to another box that is kept covered by a towel or similar, Do not forget the bottom of the holding box, must be sealed also to keep the bees out.
 Another method that is free is removing the cover, smoking them, lifting one frame at a time, giving them a good shake back into the hive, taking a bee brush or in my case a turkey feather (they roost next to my hives), brush whats left off, put it in a covered transport box.
 Next step is take them to where ever you are going to extract them.
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Offline RAST

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Re: Honey extraction
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2021, 08:05:51 pm »
Step 2    Uncapping
We need to expose the honey in the comb preferably doing the least amount of damage to the comb so the bees have less work to do when you reuse it. I am not going to cover the machines that do it for you due to their cost and are usually for large operations.
 The most common is a knife long enough to lay across the frame and cut the cappings off with a slight sawing motion. There are knives that are heated electrically, some use two knives and a pot of hot water, alternating soaking them in the pot to keep them warm. There are electrically heated planes that are drawn across the surface of the comb to cut it off. There is also a spiked roller that is ran back and forth on the surface of the comb poking holes in the cappings.
 Its best if you have a container to catch the cappings in when cutting them off called an uncapping tank. The ideal one is wide enough to hang the frames in before they go in the extractor to expedite the process. It also has a drain plug in the side or bottom. Mine has a frame with eighth inch hardware cloth, raised a few inches off the bottom to catch and let the cappings drain on. I also use a narrow piece of wood crossways with a screw ran up through it centered to support the frame. It is also kept from sliding around by a couple of nails through drilled holes.
 One takes the frame of honey, sets the center of the end bar on the screw point and removes the cappings while holding the top. With a knife the flat of the blade is lain across the frame and the cappings are cut off, with a slight tilt to the frame, the falling cappings don’t interfere with the knife, with a cold butter knife use a slight sawing motion. Do both sides and examine it for low spots the knife didn’t open. Now we use a capping scratcher to hook slightly under and raise the cappings off the low spots. A kitchen fork will also work.
 A word of caution when using a heated instrument, some get so hot they can burn the honey, pay attention.



Offline RAST

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Re: Honey extraction
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2021, 10:12:41 pm »
Step 3    Extracting
 I hope we put those honey frame where the bees can’t get to them or the extractor while in use.
 Now we just toss those frames in there and spin away, right? No, Stop, Whoa!
 Let’s take a look at that comb first. When the frames in the hive the cells have an uphill tilt to them. Easier to keep the thin nectar in that way, we want to position the comb in the extractor so the centrifugal force slings it out easier and as complete as possible. In a radial extractor there usually isn’t much choice, the top of the frame should go to the outside. On a tangential (frame lay flat to the sides) we want the top of the comb away from the direction of spin so it will sling out with the direction of the comb.
 In a tangential extractor the balance is important to keep it from going all over the place. You do the best you can to keep the frame weights across from each other as even as possible. Set aside that half a frame of honey until you come across another one. Sometimes you are still going to hang on at the start, just go slow.
 Now very important! In a tangential with wax foundation or foundationless (they should also be wired) you can blow out your comb easily if you start out fast. Once again think of how that comb is made. There is a dividing wall in the center of the comb and the honey on the inside can’t sling out but still has centrifugal force against it. Too much force and boom, comb splits wide open. One should spin the first time at a slower speed for a shorter duration and get some of the honey out of the outside. Then flip the frame end for end and work up to speed, you can pretty well finish that side, then flip them again and finish that side. Spinning longer at a somewhat slower speed will do less comb damage.
 I have not damaged any plastic foundation comb by not flipping early yet.
 Make sure you don’t let the level of honey in the bottom of the extractor sneak up and start hitting the bottom of the spinning basket.
 There is a multitude of choices for straining/filtering it, paint strainers, etc. My extractor is set up and fastened to a wooden platform so it can drain directly into a stainless-steel strainer in a five-gal bucket.  Pay attention and don’t let your strainer stop up and overflow. With that thought I also spread card board all over my shed floor.
 Now we take the extracted comb and either put it back onto the hives for them to clean and hopefully refill, or set them far enough away so they won’t start robbing in your bee yard.