Honey extraction and the honey crop 2010

Having had a few weeks off  ‘bee duty’ during the first few weeks of August I returned home from my holiday ready to see if any honey was left in the supers and decide how much to take off and how much to leave for the bees. The rough rule of thumb is that the bees will need 40lb of honey left in the hive in order that the colony to survives through the winter.

Following the inspection I was happy to see that the wet weather in August hadn’t led the bees to eat all their honey supplies and I would be able to extract some honey this year, even if mainly only from one of the three hives. I placed a clearer board with the porter bee escapes attached under two full supers, leaving a third super underneath the clearer board to give the bees space to escape into without causing over crowding in the brood chamber.

I returned 24 hours later hoping that the supers would be clear of bees but unfortunately there were still plenty of bees hanging around the honey – possibly because the bad weather hadn’t enticed them out or to move around the hive that much. I had an empty super with me so I removed the first honey super and carried it about 8 metres way from the other hives and brushed each frame clear of bees with a soft bee brush, placing the now clear frame in the empty super and covering it over with a towel to prevent the recently ejected bees from returning to their honey. This went surpisingly smoothly, again possibly due to the wet and windy weather the bees very quickly flew back to their hives. I was able to remove 18 full frames from one hive and 3 from another, the swarm collected earllier in the year have plenty of honey below the queen excluder but nothing above so they will not supply me with any honey this year.

This is a relatively low yeild, with the average UK hive supplying about 50lbs of honey per year but the bees have drawn out all new comb in the hives this year, around 90 frames in total, and this in itself uses up a huge amount of honey in energy and wax production.

The honey extractors are the single most expensive piece of any beekeepers equipment, and as yet I do not own one, I am however lucky enough to have friend who does so I took the supers of honey, still warm from the hive, for uncapping and extraction at her house.

The extraction process is quite straight forward, the wax cappings that seal the honey into the comb are removed using an uncapping fork or uncapping knife and then the frames are placed in a centrifrugal device, either in a radial or tangial pattern, and the honey is literally spun out, hitting the sides of the extractor and then draining down into a honey holding area near the base.

The honey is then run through a coarse strainer, followed by a fine strainer before being held in a settling or ripening, tank for 24 hours to allow any air bubbles that were introduced during the spinning cycle to escape. The extracted honey is then run off into jars, bottles or buckets.

The 21 frames extracted this year yeilded about 41lbs of honey so not bad for a first crop!

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Honey extraction and the honey crop 2010 « Tales from the beehive …Place frames in an extractor. Spin the extractor for 30 seconds. Open the extractor and turn the frames around. Spin the extractor for another 30 seconds. There will still be a small amount of honey left in the frames. … Remove the honey from extractor by opening valve on bottom. Collect the honey in a strainer… […]

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