Honey Extraction

Extracting honey from the hive is traditionally done in the first week of September. The honey is ready for harvesting when the honey comb is capped. This is sometimes called ripeness, an easy test is to lift and jently shake the comb, if honey leeks out then its not ready.

Harvesting honey before its ripe and capped may cause fermentation and the loss of all the honey collected! So be patient and make sure the comb is capped before you extract the honey.

The key to successful extraction is speed. Make sure and extract the honey from the comb as soon as possible, while it is still warm from the hive. If the comb honey was to get cold it will crystalise at pace and become difficult to work with, blocking filters etc.

Before harvesting can begin however the bees must be removed from the super, this can be done a variety of ways like: using a bee escape, using a fume board, brushing the bees of the comb, using a mechanical blower. A very effective method is to use a bee escape board and then use a brush or blower to remove the remaining bees.

Setup your extraction area; the kitchen, a garage, porch or basement are good places (as long as its bee proof). Keep a bucket of warm water and a towel handy to easily rinse sticky hands! Make sure the environment is clean and hygeinic. Remember that you are preparing food and modern hygeine rules should be followed especially if you intend to sell any of the honey.

OK now down to business. Place the comb on a large chopping board. Uncap the comb with an uncapping knife or a serrated bread knife, using a sawing motion. Put the cut off cappings in a plastic tub or glass bowl. Some beekeepers like t use paint strippers to melt the wax cappings

Other household items can also be used in the process; kitchen strainers, nylon paint strainers, and women’s nylon stockings can serve as good honey filters (clean ones, of course). However there is no substitute for a good centrifugal extractor. The extractor is most likely to be the most expensive piece of equipment required by any beekeeper. If unaffordable contact your local beekeepers or association and see if there is an extractor available locally to borrow or rent. If you are going to sell even a small amount of your honey you must use a stainless steel or food grade polythene extractor.

Place all the de-capped frames into the extractor until full. Extract slowly at first and build up speed as the frames empty of honey. Continue in this way until the job is finished. When finished replace the frames and super to the hive for the bees to clean and refill (if extracting spring flow) or if extracting summer flow store the super for next year.

The honey if possible should be strained directly from the extractor using a sieve to strain out the larger wax pieces then a fine strainer to get the smaller bits. Strain into honey buckets, a settling tank or ripener. The honey should be left to ripen for 24 hours and then transferred to jars and bottles. A spigot or honey gate is essential when transferring from bucket/container to bottle or jar.

See the process in the diagram to the right:

Dont forget about the wax cappings as they can hold 10% of the honey. Drain them through screening or filter.

Any tools or utensils that are used with melted wax can not be used for anything else, as the wax creates a thin film over everything it touches.

Wash down all equipment outside with a hose or pressure washer if you have one.

If there is no way of getting a extractor a good way to extract, use or sell the honey is by cutting the comb into rectangles and packaging in clear top plastic tubs.

Normal super frames are fitted with unwired foundation and when drawn out and capped, pieces of comb are simply cut out ready for eating, either with a knife or Price comb cutter. The Price comb cutter cuts the comb to the exact size to fit into cut-comb containers (special plastic containers with clear tops).

Below is a video which may help:

You can of course build your own honey extractor find detailed plans below:
[wdsm_ad id=”765″ class=” ” ]
[wdsm_ad id=”769″ class=” ” ]