Today I did my first honey extraction. Here is the extractor set up on my kitchen table:
The extractor is a manual crank (ugh!) which holds 3 large frames or 6 shallow frames at the same time. You have to flip over the frames to extract the other side. For some reason, people always do 2 flips - side A, side B, and then side A again. I suppose that you get some more out of the first side, and that is what I found.
The first step is to remove the wax caps from the honey frames. You do this using a knife. They make fancy heated uncapping knives, but they run close to $100. I found a very nice serrated bread knife which worked just fine, especially since I only had 9 frames to uncap. I also didn't have an uncapping tank, so I used a plastic bin to collect the caps. There is still honey in them, and you can get that as well.
The supers that these frames were in had 9-frame spacing mounts in them, instead of the usual 10. Having 9 frames causes the bees to draw out the comb a little higher, and put more honey in. Since the comb was high, it was easy to slice off with the knife, and I had to do very little with the capping scratcher. Here I am slicing off one of the frames:
Here's an interesting frame - look how the honey in the center is darker than that on the ends:
When it is extracted, it will all mix together.
After extracting all 9 frames, I started draining the extractor into the honey bucket. On top of the honey bucket are 2 filters - a coarse one at 600 micros, and a fine one at 200 microns. Here is the start of the flow:
It took about 1/2 hour to drain the extractor, and about another hour for the honey to flow through the filters.
I did not buy any of the traditional honey jars (the WCBA club does a large order to get good rates, but that was months ago). So I went to Walmart and bought some Ball jars at different sizes - a lot of small ones to give as gifts and samples.
All in all I was able to harvest 22 pounds of honey from the 9 frames - not bad! Next year I'll plan better.
I also still need to come up with a good label for my honey. I am thinking over a few designs, and will post them when they are finalized.
The whole experience wasn't bad - I've heard horror stories about getting everything sticky. I put down some newspaper under the extractor, and had some drips, but it wasn't bad.