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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pickens, SC, USA
    Posts
    234

    Question Uncapping Plane vs. Heating Knife

    I would love to hear from those of you who have used a hand-held heated uncapping plane and an electric uncapping knife. I am trying to decide which one would be best to purchase.

    Thanks
    Charlotte

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Western Illinois
    Posts
    111

    Default

    We have both of them. If you have shallow supers the plane would work great. We have mediums and found that it was a bit tricky not getting too deep on the cappings. Perhaps we should try it again this year. The electric uncapping knife works wonderful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Hays, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    1,095

    Default

    This has been discussed on BeeSource before, you may want to do a search. I use a plane and would not use a knife now unless given no choice. We use only deeps and it works great, no problem with depth. The plane is easier on the wrists, so much less fatigue than using a knife. You will still want a comb to pick those occasional recessed capped cells.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Randolph County, Indiana
    Posts
    694

    Default

    We have both, and I wouldn't give someone 2 cents for an uncapping plane. But as you can see, some people prefer them. You won't know which one works for you until you try it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Atchison, Kansas
    Posts
    69

    Default

    Swobee do you have a maxant uncapping plane? We just tried ours for the frist time last week and it is to hot. Is there any way to adjust the temp or do you use the on off switch to do that? It would have been nice if there was some kind of papers that came with it giving any information.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Syracuse, NY (upstate)
    Posts
    247

    Default Temperature Control

    Jethro,

    Yes, the capping plane is too hot just plugged in by itself (so is an electric uncapping knife for that matter). I use a rheostadt (i.e. dimmer switch) which came with my uncapping knife. I use both the plane and the knife and like them both.

    -ekrouse

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Barry, TX USA
    Posts
    862

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Swobee View Post
    You will still want a comb to pick those occasional recessed capped cells.
    I use the uncapping knife and mine has a built in temp adjustment. I hate scratching cappings open with a comb so I used 9 frame spacers in the past to get nice tall cappings in my old ten frame equipment. I have slowly converted to 8 frame equipment and cut those same 9 frame spacers down to 7 frame spacers and they still work great. I know that some people hate them and you must first get your comb drawn without the spacers. Once all your frames are drawn you'll hardly ever have to scratch cappings with a comb. This makes uncapping a breeze to me. I'm still using some frames that are over 15 years old.

    Of course others will disagree. Ask 37 beekeepers the same question and you'll get 37 mutually exclusive answers.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ravenna, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    316

    Default

    The uncapping plane is designed for near continual use. After about 10-15 minutes of inactivity, it can approach 500 degrees and damage. However, the ergonomics of the plane prevent fatigue during constant use.

    For most, a knife is a better choice and is much safer out of the box.
    Blue Sky Bee Supply
    Quality Bee Supplies, Bees and Containers!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Hays, Kansas, USA
    Posts
    1,095

    Default

    Jethro,

    Hope your bloom season is doing well. We had a great summer with tons of clover bloom. Normally we don't get the rainfall at the right time to bring the clover on like this year. Now, I'm just hoping they can find enough forage to keep rolling along without a dearth or going backward in net production. We're trying some CRP with the coneflowers and other wildlife plantings and we'll see how they work out with that. Maybe next year, I'll move them off the clover fields when their blooms are over with and onto CRP. It's an experiment every year!

    Ours is a Maxant & I suggest using a rheostat to control it. They do overheat if left cooking alone without uncapping. I never timed it, but it seems at least one full minute more or less to get it hot and then I just start uncapping like there's no tomorrow. If I get ahead in the race with the extractor, we have several tubs to store the uncapped frames in and just ordered an uncapping tank. We have a 24/36 frame Hubbard extractor and it's tough to keep up with it sometimes.

    We use 9 frames, deeps only and on occasions, the bees don't draw past the frame. I guess they're freestyle artists, so there are times a little depression area of caps happens that the plane can't reach without gouging. You can flip your wrist and use the end to cut through a depressed area of caps without over cutting.

    I seem to get a much smaller pile of cappings & wax with the plane than I did with the knife. It's mainly just caps with little cell wax and therefore very light colored. That is another benefit IMHO. Maybe I just never learned to fillet the caps off with a knife very well, but sure do like the plane.

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