What do larger operations use for uncapping tanks and straining? I'm talking on the order of 50-100 hives.
I've good a good 20 frame extractor that does it's job well, and plenty of 5 gal buckets and 55 gallon drums for storage, but I'm at a bit of a loss what to do for an uncapping tank and strainer at this size. Last year, my two strainers and 'hobby' sized uncapping tank couldn't keep up with the 1800lbs of honey harvested from far fewer hives.
Obviously I need to upgrade, but the uncapping tanks in the catalogs only hold 10 frames at around $300 plus shipping. And what would you use for a strainer?. The double sieves are too slow (especially if I try to strain more than 5 gal without changing the nylon cloth) and have the tendency to overflow If they aren't babysitted all the time.
A big system (automatic uncapper, etc.) isn't in the budget and shouldn't be necessary, and I really don't expect to have more than 100 hives max (and still keep my day job.) Any good sources for used equipment or rectangular tanks that might do the job?
A cheap--cheap alternative is to go to a farm supply store (fleet-farm) and purchase a plastic (100 gallon+-) stock tank. Add in a 3" valve near or on the bottom (menards/home depot?). Don't open the valve until the honey has drained down and the cappings separated to the top for many hours. You will still have to scoop out cappings after they have been drained of honey. I sometimes fill 5gallon paint strainer mesh bags with cappings and tie the bag up to drain further.
The 100 gal stock tank is a good idea. Before we were automated , we nailed hardware cloth on the bottem of some old hive bodies and scopped the cappings into those. We had cleats on the side of the hive bodies and set them into a frame made of 2+ 4's that sat on top of our tank.