Monday, November 22, 2010

Extracting Honey

Our stack of honey supers (the boxes are called "supers") which each hold 9 or 10 frames of honey

The extractor

Uncapping a frame of honeycomb

Two different (mostly) uncapped honey. Most likely the light one is from earlier in the summer and the darker one from the fall

Filtering the golden take

Nancy and I spent a lot of time the last two nights extracting honey from all of the honey supers we've been storing in our basement since the summer. We gathered most of this honey in early September but haven't had a chance to do the extracting until now.

The process requires having an extractor, which is a barrel on legs with a rack inside that holds all of the frames of honey. There is a crank that spins the rack, creating centrifical force that slings the honey out of the comb and against the inside walls of the extractor, a lot like the way a washing machine on spin mode gets a lot of the water out of wet clothes.

Before putting the frames of honey into the extractor you have to cut off the wax cappings that the bees put there to contain the honey in the comb. Uncapping is done with a electrically heated knife that melts and cuts as you work down the honeycomb.

After you've put a load of uncapped frames into the extractor and then spun the whole thing, the honey that got flung out slowly slides down the walls of the extractor and gathers at the bottom where there is a spigot to drain out the honey. It helps to be doing all this while its warm in order to keep the honey flowing.

We run our honey through two filters to separate out the various bits of wax and bees and other debris that would otherwise end up in the honey.

Although we didn't get as much as we thought we might, it looks like we ended up with somewhere around eight gallons of honey. With that much we'll probably sell some, give some away as gifts and have plenty for ourselves.


wendy said...

awesome post! i never knew how this was all done. so the pic where you show a black (older) and a yellow (newer) honeycomb, will the black one make for a much darker color honey? do the different color tones of honey mean anything in particular? i think you should put a bee in each glass jar of honey you make. kind of like a worm in tequila. ;) wendy

Dave said...

Hi Wendy, Yes, I always wondered how this was done as well until we started doing it ourselves. The darker honey is likely from later in the summer (goldenrod) and the lighter is from early and mid-summer, largely clover.

Not sure about the bee-in-the-honey idea, but worth thinking about!