Once your bees have filled the combs with honey and capped it, you can extract it. What can help in the extraction of that honey is the honey extractor. The honey extractor is a device which extracts honey without damaging bee combs. It contains a cylindrical drum holding a frame basket, and by spinning it around honey is extracted by centrifugal force. This method is great because wax and comb remain intact and can be returned to the hive. It seems easy in theory but how hard is it to use the honey extractor?
Be well prepared before you start with extraction so you can have all the tools clean and ready to use. You should prepare several tools before you start extraction:
A hot knife (a plug in knife that heats up) - used for cutting off wax cappings on the honeycomb
A strainer - any strainer you like that has fine pores (some beekeepers even use panty hose)
A bucket - used for collecting extracted honey
A measuring cup - used for pouring the extracted honey into smaller containers
A cookie sheet - used for catching wax cappings which are cut off with the hot knife
Honey jars - used for storing honey
The extraction of honey with honey extractor is simple and can be done by following a few simple steps.
You should remove fully capped combs from your hive(s), preferably a day before. Be sure to store the combs somewhere inside, where bees cannot reach it. Bees can track their honey very well so do not let them smell it or reach it.
It is recommended to do it indoors so bees cannot find the exposed honey. Your garage might be a perfect place to do it as you can easily clean any sticky spills.
The extraction can be done outside, but the exposed honey will attract bees which might be a nuisance, some might even drown in honey.
Once you have chosen the place, you should place the extractor in a way that makes it easy to maneuver around it. Beneath its bottom spigot, you should place a bucket which will collect the extracted honey. To make the whole process easier, place a strainer on top of the bucket, so the honey gets filtered right away.
A hot knife and cookie sheet should be put somewhere near the extractor, so you don’t have to carry uncapped honey far.
As we already mentioned, you can uncap the honey with the hot knife. Be very careful in this step because the hot knife gets hot very quickly and can give you really bad burns if it comes in contact with your skin.
After the knife gets hot, you want to use it on both sides of the comb to reveal liquid honey so that it can be extracted by the honey extractor. Do not rush this step because you do not want to cut the comb too deep; you should cut only 1-centimeter max.
After you have cut off the caps, place the combs inside baskets of the honey extractor. Depending on which kind of the extractor you have, you might have to spin the combs manually, or it will be done automatically. Manually operated honey extractors have the crankshaft handle which then spins the combs. By spinning the combs, centrifugal force pulls the honey out onto the inside wall of the extractor.
That honey then oozes down the sides and drains out of the spigot at the bottom. The honey is collected as it comes out of the spigot.
Combs spinning might make the honey extractor unstable, especially with faster spinning, so you might want to find someone to hold it. The faster they spin, the more honey will be extracted. After spinning for at least a minute, check if the honey has been extracted from the side facing the inner wall of the extractor. If there is honey left then spin it some more, else turn the frame around and extract the other side. After you are done with the current batch, put other frames and repeat the process until all frames are done.
It might take several minutes before you see any honey oozing from the spigot. When it starts, it usually takes 1-2 hours for collection and filtering. If the honey has stopped oozing, you can take the bucket to a place where you will fill the jars. You can leave some bowl under the spigot in case some honey drips later, so you don’t have to clean it from the floor.
Shortly after returning them to the bees, they will repair combs and refill them with honey.
As you can see, the process is pretty simple, so everyone can do it successfully. Of course, don’t forget to clean the honey extractor and tools used so they don’t attract bees. You can use hot water to clean everything since honey is water-soluble and anti-bacterial. The wax left from cutting off comb caps you can place on the cookie sheet and leave it to bees for a few hours. They will clean all the honey from the wax, which you can store for later use. Using honey extractor you can extract all the honey pretty fast and easy, so why not use it?
The Secco royal 3 is a must have for the beekeeper with 1 - 10 hives. The 16 gauge stainless steel tank with sealed bearings and steel gears make this a professional durable 3 frame honey extractor.