Thursday, December 16, 2010

Extracting the Honey

I know this is way late...sorry 'bout that!  Back in October, I borrowed some extracting equipment from my wife's coworker who is also a beekeeper nearby.  "Extracting equipment" this time around meant the actual extractor which is a rount steel tank which in this case fits two bee frames at a time.  There was also an uncapping tote, electric uncapping knife as well as a plastic pail with a spout at the bottom to collect the honey.  The picture below is pretty accurate except I didn't have legs on the tank...though that would have been nice!

The first step to extracting honey is to scrape the cappings off the frames.  You do this using the knife.  You can see me doing this in the pictures below.  The cappings fall off into the uncapping tank where you can collect/filter more honey and use the honeybee wax for other projects if desired.  The last picture in the series shows the frame fully uncapped (on one side anyway) and you can see the honey just dripping right out of it.  Once you do this to one side, you do the other.

As this was a 2-frame extractor that I was using, I'd do the above to two frames at a time placing each into the extractor.  The next step is to actually spin the frames for quite some time until the honey has been flung onto the sides of the extractor tank which then settles at the bottom.
I could only do this a couple times until the level of the honey rose to the point where it hindered the spinning...which brings us to the next step.  I'd lift the extractor onto a couple sawhorses and place the plastic bottling pail underneath.  I then placed a couple filters that were also loaned to me on top of the bottling pail.  Then I opened the spout at the bottom of the extractor tank and let loose the honey.  It was a pretty slow process as it takes quite a while for the honey to filter through and into the bottling tank.  Imagine filtering molasses through a very fine sifter/strainer. 

Here are a couple pictures of what the frames look like after extraction.
All told I got about 40 pounds of honey from the 16 frames...not bad for a first year, I suppose...especially considering that I didn't think I was going to get any as late as September.

The next pictures show the bees on warmer day in October when I placed the extracted frames back on the hives for the bees to clean up. I think they were appreciative.


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