Garage Honey Extraction

I extracted some honey in my garage over the past couple of days. I’d like to say there’s a precise method to my extraction process, but like everything in beekeeping, there isn’t — and don’t let nobody tell ya no different (just like Sling Blade would say). Now let’s take a gander at how it all went down:

00:00 — Intro to the extractor. Everything is sanitized, from the extractor to the stainless steel honey filter to the honey bucket. The garage might look rough, but it’s well ventilated and there are no chemicals or gasoline or any toxic fumes floating around.

01:00 — Extracting the first three frames. I slowly increase the speed until it’s at full speed. I mention that I might be able to get more honey if I extract only three frames at a time instead of six.  Now that I’ve done it, I think six is fine.  I just need to make sure all the honey has been flung out of them. After turning the extractor on to full speed, I usually walk away and leave it alone for about 15 minutes.  It probably only takes a few minutes to fully extract the honey, but I’m in no rush.

02:00 — Taking a taste of honey.  It’s finger licking good.

02:15 — Thick honey frames. The frames got thick because I put eight frames in a 10-frame super. I make reference to this Escape Board video while explaining how the bees made the thick frames of honey.

03:30 — Decapping the honey with a heat gun. I explain in detail how this method only works well with dry cappings and I show exactly how I do it. Traditional methods of decapping honey frames creates a lot of leftover honey and wax which I don’t like to deal with.  Those who use beeswax for creams and so on probably wouldn’t do this.

Honey frame decapped with heat gun (after extraction).

06:35 — The frames after they’ve been extracted.  This shot also shows what the comb looks like after it’s been decapped with the heat gun.

07:10 — Another taste of honey on my finger. The honey always seems sweeter when it comes directly from the extractor.

07:30 — Bees cleaning out honey supers.  The extracted frames are left outside for the bees to clean up.  They’re a fair distance from the hives so as not to trigger robbing.

08:50 — A demonstration of the extractor’s settings. The VARIABLE setting is used to slowly increase the speed.  Then once we know the frames are balanced and the frames aren’t flying to pieces, we switch it to FULL speed ahead.

11:25 — The last of the honey boxes being cleaned out by the bees. Some talk about how much honey I got from my hives.  I haven’t gotten as much honey from my bees since I started beekeeping in Flatrock.

12:05 — Tipping the extractor. The extractor is unbolted from its base and tilted in order to pour out honey that’s left over in the bottom of the extractor (and it’s a fair bit of honey).

I’m happy with the amount of honey I got from my bees this year.  It’s the most honey I’ve gotten since I’ve been keeping bees in Flatrock (which is close to the ocean and probably colder than what most beekeepers on the island have to deal with).

The first big bucket that I extracted was probably made mostly from late season goldenrod nectar.  The second big bucket, taken from frames that were capped earlier in the year, was probably a mix of fireweed and clover.  It was lighter, delicate and more watery than the goldenrod nectar.  Pure fireweed honey almost looks white.  This isn’t that.  I doubt anyone on the island produces pure fireweed honey, despite labelling that states otherwise.

I will keep 12 litres of honey for my 2-person household to last us until next year.  I’ll give away a fair bit.  I’ll trade some.  Then I’ll sell off the rest.

4 thoughts on “Garage Honey Extraction

  1. I didn’t really time it. In the video, I extracted the first three frames on their own, but after that I switched to six frames at a time.

    However, it’s pretty fast. Once the extractor is up to full speed, which takes less than a minute, I’d say 95% of the honey is whipped out the frames in the first two minutes. It doesn’t take long.

    I wasn’t in a rush, so my process was to load up the extractor with six frames, turn it on and then leave for about 10 or 15 minutes. I probably kept it going longer than I had to, but I wanted to whipped out every drop I could.

    With only three frames, though, I think it would take less than 5 minutes.

    This is probably more detail than you asked for, but I thought three frames would be faster because with six frames at a time, the frames are so close together that the honey doesn’t seem to just fly out of the frames onto the sides of the extractor. A lot of it seems to fly onto the frame next to it. The frames themselves — the top bars for instance — would get coated with honey, whereas with three frames, that didn’t really happen. Still, if you whip it long enough, most of the honey goes into the extractor.

  2. Thanks Phillip, we have the same extractor and run usually six frames at a time and we used to do about 6-9 minutes. Now we do about 10-12 as we have problems getting it balanced in the beginning due to frames not being super uniform. We also just put our extractor on a platform with three wheels and what a difference that made in terms of balance and taking a lot of shock out the extractor frame. We have the newer motor and so don’t have the variable speed and we just move up the dial as close to 100% when we can, if balanced it runs very well. I evaluate how well my extraction of frames is by looking at them and feeling the weight difference as I remove. If I see a lot of glistening and still some weight then I might respin again for a minute. But when I see the crispy wax empty, brings a smile to my face.
    I enjoy your posts and have learned a lot from you – thanks,

  3. Thanks for the comment, Kevin. Sounds like you’re doing pretty much what I’m doing. If didn’t have the FULL setting and the VARIABLE setting, it would be a lot harder to get the extractor balanced sometimes. When I slowly increase the speed, it doesn’t take long to balance itself out.

    That’s interesting that you have the extractor on wheels, and that helps? I guess I can see that. It gives you a little leeway when the frames are unbalanced, I suppose. I didn’t think of that. I’ve got mine bolted down solid. The original legs are in the garbage.

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