Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No Honey Extractor? No Worries!

Honey is the world's first sweetener.  Honey made the world's first alcoholic beverage, called mead.  Honey was one of the world's first medicines, used for everything from sore throats to wounds.

So, it's been around since the beginning of time. And those folks had to learn to get the honey out of the hive without the use of modern equipment, called extractors or centrifuges. Back then, it was common that most had their own beehive and there were very few big operations where large machines would have been needed to extract honey to haul off to companies like Sue Bee.

1930's Price for Extractors
Extractors can be expensive.  The cheapest plastic ones with shipping costs can run up to $150.00. A nice American made, high quality extractor can start at around $300 before shipping.  So what can you do if you can't afford one?

One thing you can do is to borrow an extractor or rent one.  Many bee clubs have them available for their members, all you have to do is sign up for a date and sometimes put down a small deposit that you will get back if the equipment is returned in good condition.  There are also places where you can rent an extractor, or buy time in someone's honey house. You'll have to be the judge on this, because sometimes paying the rental fees aren't a good deal, so think wisely on this one.  Some areas have commercial kitchens that you can rent by the hour, and some of those kitchens may have the equipment you need.

Manual extraction is another option, sometimes called the "destruct" method.  Back in the old days, women would walk out to the beehive, open it up and take out one frame.  Upon returning to the kitchen, she would open up the cappings with a fork, suspend it above a bucket, and let it drip out.  It's a very slow method, but an effective one if you keep a frame hanging all the time.

If you have plastic foundation, another way to extract is to pull out all the honeycomb, placing it in cheesecloth suspended over a bucket (use food grade please, not paint buckets).  Squeeze the comb and allow to drip through the cheesecloth into a strainer fitted over the bucket.

If you have bees-made wax, or fitted your frames with wax foundation, you could use the method above, or you could just cut out honeycomb sections, placing directly into a tupperware container with a lid.  Some  folks will now freeze it (in case there were any other little critters in there) and use upon having been frozen for 24-48 hours.


3rnigerians said...

I am a brand new beekeeper and the prices I have seen for extractors makes the heart skip a beat. This post was very helpful. Thank you.

Brad Drake said...

Interesting blog. I have never heard of freezing honey. Does it hurt or kill any of its natural benefits. Look forward to reading more of your blogs.
Brad Drake, NV Bee Guy

Netiva said...

I learned also to place the frame on a tray in the oven at 100 degree temperature and let the honey drip into the tray. How's this compared with the other methods?

Talking With Bees said...


I have just discovered your blog and was reading your husbands blog earlier. Very readable. I think I have spent the last hour on both these sites.

I have just started my own beekeeping blog. It's a different style, but I'm only just starting on moving to the country and having babies!

Take care.

Sue @ Taylor Road Bee Farm said...

Thank you for your explaination. I have often wondered if it was possible to extract the honey without a spinner.

Sue @ Taylor Road Bee Farm said...

Thank you for this post, I have wondered if I could extract the honey without buying the equipment. Love this blog it has answered many of my questions and I will continue using it . My hive was attacked by a bear a week ago and I think the hive is queenless. A beekeeper friend gave me two queen cells and I am hopeful I have a new queen

Talking With Bees said...

Hi Sheri, I was just wondering if anyone uses the Beehaus in the States?