Saturday, October 9, 2010

The House Smells Like Honey!

Yesterday evening I started the process of extracting the frames I had. I wanted to spin them out last night, so the honey would strain through the strainer over night.

So I starter by setting up the extractor that I borrow from my friend Joe:

Here are the frames that I am planning to extract:

First step is slicing off the caps. I don't have an uncapping knife, so I just use my wife's bread slicing knife. It works just fine - I don't need to heat the knife or anything - it cuts through just fine. I did have to use the capping scraper a little, as some of the frames weren't built out enough to cut with the knife.

Then came the fun part - the spinning! For some reason this time the cage holding the frames was very off balance. It shook like an unbalanced washing machine! I had to get my kids to hug the extractor to try to keep it from walking off the table. I didn't have anything to secure it to, so it was an experience.

Here is the first of the honey coming out of the extractor:

You can see that I have a 2-stage filter set up - a 600 micron (coarse) filter, followed by a 400 micron (fine) filter. I initially had a 200 micron filter on the bottom, but hardly any honey was coming through. I suppose I could have set up a space heater to heat up the honey and make it flow more, but I just swapped the 200 for the 400 and it worked fine.

I was left with the cappings which still have hone in them. I put them in a colander and strained out a little more honey.

No, this isn't the level of honey in my bucket (I wish!). It's the honey sitting in the 200 micron filter which wasn't flowing.

I ended up with only about 3" in the bucked, which I weighed out to 11.5 lbs. It isn't a lot of honey. I probably left a pound or 2 in the frames, as I couldn't really spin the fast (due to the shaking). Heating up the frames a little would have helped, but oh well. I'll put out the frames for the bees to clean up so nothing will be wasted.

Here are the jars I filled. I'm probably going to use a lot of it for Christmas gifts for family and friends.

I thought the honey looked darker, but a side-by-side comparison of a jar of this honey and a jar from back in August had them looking identical. But the flavor this time seems a lot stronger, maybe due to some goldenrod.

I was hoping to extract some frames out of my backyard this weekend also, but I did a spot check and only about 15%-20% of the frame is capped - way too unfinished to extract. We've had a lot of rain this last week, so I am hoping with the dry weather, the bees will evaporate and finish off the honey. If they don't, I'll just leave the honey for them for winter.


  1. mmm I remember the smell of the golden nectar so vividly from my visit to a local apiary last summer for a feature article that I wrote. That's when I fell in love with bee keeping and I swore that when I retire I will have both an apple orchard and hives upon hives of honey sweet humming bees.

    (I was entranced by the humming from the hives from the moment I set foot outside my car that day, it's a very soothing sound)

  2. Your honey looks great. I hope your extractor was electric otherwise you'd be doing a ton of cranking. Yes, unevenly weighted frames (some with more honey in them than others) will cause the machine to wobble a lot. We sort through the frames to try to get them all about the same weight.

  3. I did my first extract this year. One medium frame yielded 11 pint jars. I thought I'd get more than that, but in my inexperience, I think I left a lot of honey in the comb. Oh-well, the bees cleaned that up nicely. Your honey looks good. Mighty fine eating there.
    Robert in the hills of Tennessee

  4. That is some beautifully clear & pale looking honey. Congratulations

  5. Steven. I am curious what your comments are on the cleanup process on the extractor. I have heard horror stories of how long it takes to clean.

    I am looking at purchasing one, and I thought I could set the extractor out in the bee yard and let the bees clean up what they want, then use warm soapy water outside to clean up the rest. Curious what your thoughts are. I sent you a friend request on Facebook.

  6. Like you said, initial cleanup of the extractor is best accomplished by letting the bees clean it up. That won't take long - I usually leave it out for a day.

    Then I hose it down with a garden hose sprayer to get any chunks out. Then follow up with warm soapy water. You can slosh the soapy water around with a rag tied to a stick and it really isn't too bad. Hose it out again for a rinse and let it air-dry.

    What I've found is that it is best to disassemble the extractor first. In my case, the extractor cage and gear mechanism lifts out (after removing a couple screws). Then it can be cleaned separately.


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