I’ve been a beekeeper for several years now and the two main questions I get are: “do you ever get stung?” And “how do you get the honey out?” So I am going to explain how to extract honey. Every beekeeper may choose to do this differently, however, this is what has managed to work for me.
The process itself is actually quite easy once you have all the materials available.
What Materials Do You Need?
Here is a list of tools needed to make the extracting process smooth sailing assuming that you have already taken the frames out of the hive and are ready to go:
- A honey extractor
- Electric uncapping knife
- 5 Gallon bucket
- A type of strainer
When to Extract Honey
This also depends on how much honey the bees have made throughout the season. You wouldn’t want to extract honey if the frames are not capped over with wax and appear to not be full.
Also, keeping in mind that every hive is different. You can have two hives side by side and one hive may produce wax, honey and fill up a frame a lot faster than the hive sitting next to it.
A little tip: Say you have 8 frame hive boxes. If you only place 7 frames in the hive boxes you are using for honey (the boxes above the queen excluder to keep the queen out) the bees will fill out those frames to where it protrudes out enough making it easier to cut off the wax cappings.
Whereas if you had exactly 8 frames, the bees do not have enough space to build the wax out, making it tougher to maneuver the electric uncapping knife to get all the cappings off.
Why it’s a good idea to extract indoors
I am speaking from experience when I say it is a good idea to extract honey inside a shed or a garage of some type. One year I tried to do the entire extracting process outside. It was a vary bad idea because even though I place the frames far away from the hives, the bees still found them!
Yes, the honey is theirs but… c’mon!
To make your life easier and to avoid having to constantly remove honeybees from the frames or even from the bucket the honey is going into, it’s better to extract indoors.
How to Extract Honey Step by Step
Once you have removed the frames from the hive and placed them indoors, you’ll want to take the following steps:
– Use the electric uncapping knife to remove the wax cappings from each side of the frame. By doing this you are opening each cell that is filled with delicious honey making it easier for the extractor machine to spin the honey out.
There is another type of knife that is cheaper and not electric. However, I find it hard to use simply because you are sawing the wax cappings off and making a huge mess. In this scenario, you are getting what you pay for.
– Place the frames inside the extractor. Typically, most extractors have the frames standing on their sides and turned to where they are facing the middle of the extractor.
– Make sure there’s a bucket to collect the honey at the bottom of the extractor. Once you have the bucket at the bottom, you’ll want to place a type of strainer on the top of the bucket to collect any left over wax or random honeybee parts that may have unfortunately gotten in the way.
– Close the lid, open the bottom spout and start using the extractor! Depending on which type of extractor you purchased (electric or a manual honey extractor), you’d either push a button to start (electric) or start turning the hand-crank on the manual extractor.
I have a manual honey extractor. I don’t feel like it takes much longer to use the manual versus the electric. Within 5 to 7 minutes of turning the extractor yourself, you’ll start to see honey coming out of the lower spout.
-Turn the frames around. After a while, you’ll notice that there isn’t as much honey coming out. At this point, you’ll want to stop the extractor and turn the frames around to extract honey from the opposite side.
– Clean up. Once you have finished uncapping and extracting all the honey from the frames, cleaning up immediately afterwards is so beneficial! You wouldn’t want the honey to harden making it difficult to use next time or attract insects such as ants.
I used a hose and a wash cloth to clean my extractor immediately afterwards, covering it with a tarp and storing it in the shed for next year.
Where Can You Get a Manual Honey Extractor?
Some hardware stores sell extractors or if you happen to know a local beekeeper who is willing to temporarily part with their honey extractor, you can barrow theirs. Or you can look at purchasing a manual honey extractor online. Amazon is decently priced and they are easy to assemble.
To Button This Up…
Beekeeping in itself is fascinating as you start to learn how honeybees work. Honey, on the other hand, is the reward for the sweat and tears you’ve spent throughout the year.
Knowing how to extract your own honey can also be just as rewarding. You can then enjoy the honey while you wait for the next years honey flow season to start. Honey straight from the hive is a thousand times better than store bought honey and serves as so many medicinal purposes, too.
Please feel free to leave any stories you may have about extracting honey or if you have any questions or comments of your own!