Extracting Honey Outside in the Sun

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:

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.

I’ve written about most of this stuff before: Extracting Honey and How to Decap Honey Frames With a Heat Gun.

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.

6 thoughts on “Extracting Honey Outside in the Sun

  1. We just used a heat gun and harvested our first honey!! I call it “third fall honey”…. cause it’s our third fall with the bees. We got about 8 gallons! Now to bottle it…. and suggestions?
    It was super fun and super exciting and the honey is amazing.
    I LOVE reading your posts. They make me smile :)

    From Georges Lake, NL

  2. Sorry I didn’t respond right away, Lindsay. I’m glad you like my posts. I don’t think many people read my blog at the moment, but I fine with that. I’ve always preferred small groups. You’re part of a semi-exclusive club.

    8 gallons sounds okay to me. That’ll do you. As for bottling, Mason jars work. There’s not much I can say about that. Make sure everything is sterilised and go for it. Heads up: it’s sticky business. Maybe have a wet wash cloth on stand by for your hands and everything else that gets touched by honey.

    You can always tells when I’ve been digging into honey frames because half the doorknobs in the house suddenly become sticky.

  3. Just started reading your blog. As I am a fellow neuf living in ontario I was very interested when I seen a beekeeper in nfld. I keep bees in ontario and envy you not having to deal with the mite problem we have here and the chemicals farmers use. As for filling your jars you could try putting a honey gate valve Into a plastic food grade 5 gallon bucket. It works very well. I use it for my honey and maple syrup

  4. I had a food grade bucket with a honey gate, but I need a bigger one (and probably several of them). Next year. The gate makes it so much easier to bottle the honey.

    We don’t have mites in NL yet, but it’s coming. I say I have a 10-15 year window before I have to deal with varroa. And that’s the day I get out of beekeeping. Beekeeping bees in NL is already hard enough. Varroa would be the last straw for me.

    A local beekeeping association is developing a plan to deal with varroa (standard varroa plan, nothing I’m not already familiar with), but most commercial operators don’t like the association and many hobbyist aren’t exactly in love with it either. The association has turned off many beekeepers who would otherwise be their allies. So that’s not good. And the NL government does virtually nothing to protect honey bees (not evening putting up signs to warn people coming onto the island that importing honey bees is illegal). There’s no political will behind the cause. NL honey bees, never having been exposed to varroa, are unique on the planet and should be protected. But they’re not. Not really.

    Until we have better people in charge in various beekeeping arenas in NL, well, I struggle to feel optimistic about our varroa-free honey bees. NL honey bees will likely be as diseased as the rest of the planet’s honey bees in 20 years. But I hope not.

    • I certainly hope not either. My wife and I just bought a cottage in robinsons at the mouth of robinsons river. My parents live in heatherton with a beautiful spot for bees. So my thoughts were if I were ever to spend enough time down there I could buy all new equipment and bees in nl and have a better go of it there. I got 17 and a half gallons last year. But lost my 3 hives before winter was over. Not from mites though. I blame it on the chemical treatment for mites because I lost 2 queens shortly after. So needless to say I have now gone organic with my 2 nucs I purchased the spring. Usually I dont get any honey in the fall from the nucs.But because I fed all the honey from the dead hives back to the nucs they got a good start and their winter honey is already full and capped in the top medium box. And I just pulled a super of 1nuc and still have another super left on that is 2/3rds capped. The other nuc has 2 supers on almost capped.

  5. Hi! John from Perth West Oz. We live in a Mediterranean climate so to separate honey from bulk wax we place the mass into a plastic comtainer with a seive on the bottom all in the sun in summer. Since daily temperatures in summer vary from say 28c to 40c wax melts anf floats on the honey. Axter a few days we pour off the honey and some melted wax into a bucket with a gate valve and place that in a cool place where we bottle the honey. All remaining wax is melted in a stainless 35litre buckey then seived through flyscreen the muck thrown to rubbish bin or deep buried. Wax is re clarified with water then seived through a paint filter sock or clean pantyhose or mosquito netting and cast to a block. Its all time consuming but if kept capped the local bees are not a problem. This process is used mostly for honey and wax recovered from feral bee hives recovered from strange locations such as garden composters, trees, houses etc. The honey so far has been fine! We have very few deseases here in west Oz.

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