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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Augusta County, Virginia USA
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    130

    Default harvest honey without extractor?

    I started bee keeping last year with one hive just for pollination and for fun. That hive had two mediums of honey that I left on the hive to overwinter. This year I added a nuc and then caught a swarm to make 3 colonies total this year. I don't want to sell honey but will need to take off some from the first hive which already has more than two mediums full.

    Question: If anyone on this forum as been successful with harvesting without an extractor, what equipment did you have? I have "helped" harvest honey once with an electric extractor so know about the decapping tools and the tray to catch the cappings, the 5 gallon buckets that catch the honey from the extractor and the strainers that go on the bucket. But what do you use to catch the honey that is draining off the frame after comb is decapped? If the decapped frame is simply place on end over the bucket with the strainer, how did you keep the frame from tipping while it drained?

    2nd question: How many pounds of honey are typical from one frame? I am trying to figure out how many bottles to order, etc. if I harvest the full two medium supers which have 9 frames each.

    Thanks so much for any comments or advice, even if negative to this plan.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    goshen, ma
    Posts
    359

    Default

    If you are not useing an extractor then you would just do a crush and strain. which is just what it sounds like take a frame and crush the comb squeezing out the honey over some type of stainer.



    i dont know what kind of supers you are using for your honey but:

    1 full shallow super = about 27 pounds
    1 full med super = about 40 pounds
    1 full deep super = about 90 pounds

    hope this helps

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    27

    Default honey harvest without an extractor

    as mentioned you could mash and strain. In addition if you used real foundation rather than Plasticell or Duragilt you could place some cut comb honey chunks in wide mouth jars then cover with honey. My first couple of years I rented an extractor but I also learned the value of a small number of jars with both cut comb chunks and honey.Even if you are not selling it I have found a good number of people that really prefer that choice, for some it reminds them of years gone by when they were small and given honey in that form, for others it is a new and interesting view of a product that up till now was only seen in pictures.Remember Sue Bee does not market cut comb and a honeybear doesn't have it either. It's Honey in it's most natural form. Many people today appreciate that. Good Luck!!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    27

    Default honey harvest without an extractor

    I neglected to share that if I understand it right you now have 3 potential hives.Years ago when I had multiple hives I tried hard to find one colony that I could use solely for cut comb honey production. the object there is to get them to build out pretty, completely filled frames of honey that could display nicely like you see with Ross Rounds or quality square cut comb. It takes a moderate colony kept kind of crowded to get the best results and many people fail because few colonies are suited to this.Most crowded colonies will swarm rather that be kept in this tight environment.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Augusta County, Virginia USA
    Posts
    130

    Default

    Thank you for your comments. I started out with plasticel foundation but I believe those two mediums have crimp wire wax foundation. Is there any way to decap and then just drain the foundation of honey without destroying the foundation itself -- i.e., without crushing it?

    I could try the comb honey route in the future but need to figure out how to harvest what is there now. Sounds like I might need to bite the bullet and buy an extractor.

    My colony from last year was absolutely gangbusters. After overwintering I had one deep and three mediums chock full of bees -- hard to exaggerate now many bees were in that hive. Did not feed it at all this Winter or Spring. Didn't get down to dividing it and it swarmed on May 6-- the origin of my third colony. So don't know how well the donor colony or its swarm would take to deliberate crowding for comb honey. But I like these bees because they are so clean -- all this time not one dead bee or any debris on bottom board. I did use a lot of xxx sugar for mites last year though and might have just been lucky with the colony -- beginner's luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Hygroscopicity of honey should be considered

    Do you belong to a beekeepers' club? Some have extractors for their members. You could ask a member to extract your honey when he does his batch. At the rate you are going, it might be worth buying an extractor if all else fails. The one thing that many beeks don't seem to take into account with crush and strain, is that honey is highly hygroscopic (it draws moisture from the air exceedingly fast). The sooner you bottle it, the better, if you want the correct moisture content. An extractor allows for quick extraction and bottling. Allowing honey to drip from a frame... OMHO

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Dane County, WI.
    Posts
    3,721

    Default

    I know that honey can drip/drain from accidental cuts or damage to the comb and end up where you don't want it--sticky mess sometimes .

    But, trying to extract it by this method [without crush/strain] is probably difficult and time consuming.

    Try this: Since the bees build the cells at a slightly upward, 13 degree angle toward the top bar, after uncapping, put the top bar down on a screen over your large pan to catch the honey. You would probably have to lean the frame to one side, and then the other for however long it took for the honey to drain. This would 'help' to deal with the same "physics principle" [vacuum] that keeps sugar syrup in the jar feeders [or similar] with the little holes, rather than laying the frame down flat.

    During this process, the frames will have to be kept in a warm room or very large container. The temperature would have to kept at 85-90-100 degrees F. Even if this could work, there would probably be 1/3rd to 1/4th of honey left in the frames. It would take some experimentation on your part. I know you want to keep your drawn frames intact.

    I have not tried this method,..myself,..,......

    Yes Cedar Hill, I forgot about the moisture [hygroscopic]. Also, maybe dust [fine particles] in the air for the time of draining, that might increase the possibilty of early crystallization.
    Last edited by Oldbee; 05-23-2009 at 03:05 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    27

    Default Duragilt or crimped wire

    I was kind of thinking that that might be the case.Almost every new beekeeper gets started with reinforced foundation, which is actally a good choice but you have little choice but to buy or rent an extractor or as an alternative give most to the two newest colonies to help with thier food source, then wait until possibly this fall to pull all before preping for overwintering. At least doing that you will help the two newest colonies to build up faster and still allow you time to line up an affordable new extractor or a good clean used one. If you can contact a local beekeepers association they may be able to help you locate a good used one.Remember that there are a large number of people that try beekeeping for a season or two and then give it up, because it is too hard, they are too busy with other things, or they just tire of the responsibilities that the hobby involves. For whatever reason very few people that have ever kept bees, simply haul thier equipment to the dump.As you already know, a beekeeper normally developes a love for the creatures he is helping to survive and a deep respect for the equipment and effort used to that end. Three hives means your hobby just grew to that next stage; and an extractor is almost a necessity.You might even check Craigs List or local classifieds but there is only a slight chance that you'll be lucky there.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    buckingham, virginia, usa
    Posts
    40

    Default

    if you want to extract it, check wi your extension agent. some of them loan them out. i know nelson county has one.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
    Posts
    2,837

    Default

    I do not own an extractor.
    I just use a large spoon and remove honey-filled cells from JUST ONE SIDE of the foundation, then do other side. Have never replaced the original wax foundation. It is several season old, but still light in color, and since I dont use chemicals while honey supers are on, I guess the old foundation only has "bee-collected" contamination.

    The "spooned-off" honey drains very well overnight through a stainless steel wire strainer placed over a 5-gal bucket (and kept in warm garage . . . I mean "honey house" .

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Edgefield County, South Carolina
    Posts
    646

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Phelps Co. Missouri USA
    Posts
    856

    Default

    A short NOTE !

    Do not, I repeat Do NOT, do crush & strain in the wife's kitchen or use Her

    pots, pans, etc,.

    One of the many things books don't tell you about bee keeping !

    PCM

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Knox County, Ohio
    Posts
    2,694

    Default

    My Grandma's brother had bees, and ran about 70 hives at the most. My Dad's cousin told me they had an old galvanized extractor stored in the barn, and he had never seen it used over the years.

    He said Uncle Ed mainly did comb honey, but he had a few people who wanted jar honey. For those customers, they would cut the combs out and put in a cake pan. Then Aunt Cora would 'bake' the honeycombs on a real low heat to melt everything. The wax would rise to the top, and after it cooled, they would break the wax off the top, and pour it through a strainer to get out any bee legs or debris from the honey.

    Don't burn the honey - heat it to 150 or so, and you'll be fine.

    It might be easier to buy a cheap crock pot, and melt the honeycombs in the crockpot.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Graham, WA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    Wow, I never thought of a crock pot. I'm so addicted to the smell of beeswax, I use beeswax candles nearly all the time. I even put a block of beeswax under my car seat as a little air freshener. I don't anticipate a lot of honey so an extractor probably wouldn't be worth the effort for me. But the anticipation of a crock pot full of honey and beeswax warming and fragrancing the air, now I just can't wait for the harvest.
    And, congradulations on your success with your bees. You're clearly doing something right.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Hiltons,Virginia
    Posts
    107

    Default Clarkfarm

    Check some of the other Beekeeper's in your area to see if they will extract
    it for you.If you were close enough to me i would be glad too do it for you.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default

    I have 2 extractors, and still cut and strain at times...... don't worry about the loss of foundation. the bees can build it back fast! you will hear things about how much honey you lose and such but don't worry about it. its such a small issue...
    Look at Michael bush website about foundationless ........ cheap easy and works FANTASTIC... they will draw empty frames faster than foundation.

    When I crush and strain, we use 3 layers of cheescloth, and teflon pans..(they drain better).......

    The wax cappings and leftovers are warmed in teh microwave until they seperate, like one of the other post mentioned.... the honey is still fine, and the wax will float! and a crock pot is not a bad idea!....
    Last edited by Bizzybee; 05-24-2009 at 09:07 AM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    282

    Default

    How about Galvanized extractors? I've heard a few cons about using them. Does anyone still use them and sell the honey?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,379

    Default

    >If anyone on this forum as been successful with harvesting without an extractor, what equipment did you have?

    I did for 26 years

    >How many pounds of honey are typical from one frame?

    A medium frame probably holds about four pounds of honey.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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