So I pulled out my honey extractor and used it to whip some honey out of about six or seven medium frames. The honey wasn’t completely cured. That is, it wasn’t completely capped and some of the nectar was still floating around fancy and loose and therefore, technically, it wasn’t honey. But it was (and is) technically delicious, so who cares? Not me. I don’t sell it for public consumption, but I eat it all the time and so do my friends. It’s probably not a bad honey for making mead.
Here’s a 15-minute video that shows how the whole thing played out (and a less-than-5-minute version for those who want to cut to the chase):
00:00 – 06:26 — Me talking about extracting uncapped honey, doing it outdoors and working out the kinks of my honey extractor.
06:27 – 10:00 — Decapping the frames and placing them in the extractor (outdoors with some bees flying around).
10:01 – 12:41 — Extracting the honey and watching the extractor rock and roll all over the place.
12:42 – 14:29 — Decapping and extracting a few extra frames.
14:30 – 15:13 — Some photos of the honey being bottle in my kitchen.
Decapping the combs with a heat gun works well on medium frames with dry cappings. Wet cappings don’t melt as quickly and easily. I use a heat gun for decapping because a heat gun is about 10 times cheaper than a decapping knife. I also prefer not dealing with the mess of wax and honey that results from traditional methods of decapping. This method probably wouldn’t work for people with a large number of frames to extract. It would take too long.
I extracted the honey about 100 metres from my hives and I’d say about five or six bees got caught in the honey. If I did this during the height of wasp season later in September, it might not be a pretty picture. I plan to do this at the height of wasp season soon, so if it turns into a nightmare, I’ll update this post with photos of that potential horror show.
September 22nd, 2019: I tried this again three weeks later and had to shut it down after about 30 minutes because the smell of uncapped honey attracted so many bees, bees that shifted into big time robbing mode, that it quickly become impossible to do anything without bees getting in the way.
I should also mention that the first time I extracted outdoors (on Sept 1), I was 100m (or about 300 feet) away from my beeyard and there were several obstacles (e.g. my house) between the extractor and the beeyard. When I did it the second time (on Sept 22), I was closer to the beeyard and there were no barriers between the beeyard and the extractor. Being closer to the beeyard probably didn’t help. Furthermore, there were likely less nectar sources available for the bees three weeks later, so they may have been more desperate for whatever spilled honey they could get.
Either way, it doesn’t take much for the bees to shift into robbing mode at this time of year. Outdoor honey extraction is probably not a good idea most of the time. It’s probably best left to the pros like me, by which I mean people who excel at creating catastrophes.