My First Time Extracting Honey

I extracted eight medium frames of honey this weekend. It came to about 8 litres after bottling. That’s somewhere around 25 pounds or 11kg, or 2 litres per frame. I extracted the honey with another beekeeper who got into beekeeping last summer the same time I did. He went before of me. Some of the following photos are of his honey — starting with this one:

Another beekeeper’s frame of honey made from Goldenrod harvested in Clarenville. Much different than my pale yellow combs of honey from St. John’s. (October 1st, 2011.)

The honey on his frames probably came from Goldenrod nectar. The appearance of the Goldenrod honey comb was different than my comb. The flavour of the honey was more earthy too. My honey probably came from Japanese Knotweed and other floral sources that aren’t as distinctive as Goldenrod. It’s all good honey, though. At any rate, step one was to put all the frames in a rack on the decapping table.

Step two was to remove the wax cappings from the frames of honey with a hot knife called a decapping knife:

Aubrey Goulding from Paradise Farms decapping a frame of honey with a hot knife. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

The heated knife melts through the wax…

Decapping honey with a hot decapping knife. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

…and if we’re lucky, only the wax falls away.

Most of my frames were thick and bulging in places. It was difficult to slide the knife smoothly beneath the caps. I subsequently lost a fair bit of honey along with the cappings.

Honey-soaked cappings. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

But that’s a small price to pay for the use of the extractor. I used a fork called a capping scratcher on a few of my frames instead of the knife. It was easier to poke holes in the caps that were bulging and bumpy.

The honey decapping table. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

Each frame was placed in the extractor after decappping.

A couple frames of honey in the extractor. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

Then we turned it on, waited a few minutes for it to spin the honey out of the frames, and then we turned on the tap:

The 12-frame honey extractor. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

Honey!

Honey pouring from the extractor after giving the frames a whirl. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

This is what I saw when I put some of my honey in a refractometer and looked into it like a spy glass:

Refractor reading for the honey. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

It seems like a good reading to me. 17% water is about right for raw honey. This bee couldn’t resist jumping into the honey:

Bee on honey filter. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

The frames of comb were white and clean after the honey was spun out of them:

Frames emptied of their honey. (Oct. 1, 2011.)

I brought the empty sticky combs home and let my bees lick up the leftover honey. They go mad for it. I’ll use those drawn combs in my honey supers next year, which will save the bees from having to make comb all over again. (These are not foundationless frames.) Here’s all the honey after I bottled it on my kitchen table:

The last honey of the year for 2011. (Oct. 3, 2011.)

I’ll post a video of the extraction process as soon as I have time to look at the video.

5 thoughts on “My First Time Extracting Honey

  1. It’s like drinking a dark beer verus commerical suds. You go for flavor and quality versus quantity. Kind of like drinking a Guiness or Black Pearl versus most domestics.

    I’m glad you enjoyed Phil.

  2. Great photos. Your honey looks great. I wonder if you can help me with my honey problem. I usually don’t strain the honey, but this time I used a faster extractor and it seemed to whip wax which looks like foam on the top of my bottles. What should I do?

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