LESSON 13: Extracting the Honey Crop
Now that you have spent all this time raising and managing the bees, it is finally time to claim your reward! Here we will show you all the necessary steps to get the honey from the super to the jar.
The Honey House
This is simply a place where you will store your honey supers and extract your honey. Make sure it is in an area where the floors can by cleaned with water, is bee tight, and hot water is available.
Handling of Honey Super
- Use a handling board or place on newspaper.
- Place in a warm room if possible, especially in cool weather. This assists in the ease of extracting, but make sure the temperature is no warmer than 90 degrees.
- Store for longer period - wax moth prevention.
Uncapping the Combs
Bees store the honey in the combs and use wax to cap it to preserve it. In order to extract the honey, you must remove the wax cap to get at the honey. You can use several types of knifes to uncap the honey including heated knives (electrically or by hot water), electronic uncapping planes, vibrating knives, or even a cold knife if the cappings are warm.
- You will need a tank or receptacle which holds the cappings and allows the honey to drain into after you cut the cappings.
- You can drain by gravity, use centrifugal force, or can melt the cappings so the liquid will separate from the honey and rise from the surface.
- Allow the cappings to drain in a warm room for 24 hours.
Extracting the Honey
Most hobbyist beekeepers use either a basket-type extractor in which the combs are reversed by hand, or the reversible type in which the basket swings to reverse the combs. Both of these types of extractors will typically hold 2 to 4 frames, but larger extractors that hold 9 or 12 frames are available for Beekeepers who have more than one hive.
Depending upon the temperature and the density of the honey, the time required for extracting honey is about 4 minutes a frame. New combs will break if it is warm, so care should be taken in starting the extractor and reverse the combs shortly.
Heating, Straining and Clarifying Honey
To facilitate straining and clarification, it is advisable to heat the honey. For most, it is not necessary to heat honey beyond 90 to 100 degrees.
Before honey enters settling or storage tanks, usually it will run through some type of strainer to clean it. The strainer can consist of a cloth through which the honey must flow through. Several thicknesses of cheesecloth are often used.
Care and Storage of Empty Supers
You can permanently store a honey super or it can be returned back the hive to be refilled. If you are going to store it, be sure to fumigate for wax moths and store in a dry place at a temperature around 70 degrees.