you might remember a couple of weeks ago ma and i harvesting honey from our hive, it was a very happy day. but there is much more to getting honey ready for sales than just taking it off the hive. the extraction process is a time-consuming process and is greatly helped by some specialized equipment.
the first step was heating up the honey so it would flow better, which involves putting the honey in the smallest room we have in the house and cranking the heat. this would be the bathroom, might not be the most sanitary location, but it made taking showers a little nicer for a few days with all that heat.
next was setting up all the extraction equipment.
you can see some of the supers siting on the top of the oven, the uncapping bin in the middle and the extractor to the right.
among the more helpful tools we are able to borrow is the uncapping bin. it is basically a plastic bin set inside another bin. the smaller bin sitting on top has holes cut in it to allow honey to flow out and into the larger bin blow leaving the wax cappings behind, and the larger bin has a spigot on the side so you can collect the honey.
the first step once the honey is warmed up and everything is all set up is the uncapping. you can spin the honey all you want, but it’s never gonna spin out if you don’t uncap it. the process of uncapping is simply cutting off the caps on the wax.
we use a cold knife, which is just a nice serrated knife. you can also use a hot knife, but i prefer the cold knife as it is more pleasant to use and can’t burn you.
once you have enough frames uncapped, you put them in the extractor. this is a very small extractor that we borrowed from our friend. it only takes 3 frames, so it’s ready to fill very quickly, but it’s motorized and does a nice job.
as you load you want to do the best job you can of keeping the frames you load well balance. then you turn it on and let it spin.
if you balance the load well you can get it up to speed quickly, but on poorly balanced load you just have to go slow or the extractor will start rocking like an off balance washing machine and makes a huge noise.
this extractor needs you to flip the frames halfway though the process, and spin out the other side. once a critical mass of honey has built up in the extractor it will begin flowing out. we usually leave the gate valve open to keep the honey from building up and burning out the motor on the extractor.
at this point you could use this honey – it’s perfectly safe for consumption, but we were planning on selling some of this honey and so getting the wax and bee parts out is pretty critical. one of the tricks that ma and i have for making getting the wax out is leaving the wax to sit and then the wax will rise to the top, making it easy to simply skim the wax off the top. we put the honey buckets back in the bathroom with the heater on over night. we could both us a break from honey extraction.
the next day we got back into it with filtering and bottling.
another nice borrowed tool, the two part sieve, the top one is rough filter, and then under it is a fine mesh filter. it doesn’t get any of the pollen or good stuff out, just the ick.
next is the filling of bottles, this is a smaller one for sale and gifts. we use a bottleing bucket, which is just a square food grade bucket with a gate valve on the side. these are very easy to make for cheap. food grade gate valves are available from beekeeping or resturant supply stores. we also filled some big bottles for our own use and then left some in buckets for mead making.
a great relief to have the honey all done and put away for the year, and plenty of gifts. if anyone wants to buy some honey it is available to sale. over all we had a yield of about 7 gallons of honey. not too shabby!