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  1. #1
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    Default Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Reading over various crush and strain methods, I think I've come up with my own. It's probably half-baked and ill informed, but let's throw it out there and see if we can refine it:

    1) Obtain a large stock pot, drill a hole in the side near the bottom, and install a metal water tap. I'm thinking the kind used on the exterior of houses used for garden houses.

    2) Remove capped comb from frames, put in pot. I think such a pot would just about hold about 1 medium super's worth of comb.

    3) Put lid on pot, place pot on a hot plate plate set to low, in the hot sun for a few hours. I believe the honey and wax should liquefy, and wax should float to the top.

    4) Use the tap to fill mason jars with honey until honey runs out, and wax starts to flow out. Then start filling wax molds with the wax coming out.

    When finished, just rinse the stockpot out, or throw in the dishwasher, and you're done.

    What does everyone think of this idea?
    Last edited by mrspock; 03-10-2010 at 02:38 PM.

  2. #2
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    Pigeon Falls, WI
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    If you like dark, burnt, over heated honey that should work great.
    Leer Family Honey Farm-Shannon Leer

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeslave View Post
    If you like dark, burnt, over heated honey that should work great.
    Is it not possible to heat the honey and wax to the point of liquefying without ruining it?

  4. #4
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    Aug 2008
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    Central Connecticut, USA
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    I briefly contemplated if it was possible to create one of these with a giant sized salad spinner. (Because I firmly believe that salad spinners are the greatest thing ever invented. I have one dedicated to spinning out hand washed laundry, yarn post dyeing and swim suits) Then I decided it was a horrid idea destin,ed to not only fail, but fail and make a big mess. When a process has been around for this long its really hard to come up with a better way to do it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Beeswax melts at around 150 degrees and that is way too hot for my honey.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by NasalSponge View Post
    Beeswax melts at around 150 degrees and that is way too hot for my honey.
    First useful response this thread. Thank you.

    What if I sun-warm the honey to the point of liquefying, drain off all the honey into mason jars, and then increase the heat to liquefy/drain the wax off?

  7. #7
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    Jun 2009
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    Malabar, FL
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrspock View Post
    What if I sun-warm the honey to the point of liquefying
    The honey in the comb is already a liquid unless your bees store honey cubes . I think you are way overthinking the "crush and strain process". Check out Michael Bush's site where he states he kept bees for 26 years without an extractor, he shows in detail his crush and strain method which looks very inexpensive and obviously time tested.
    A government large enough to provide everything you need is strong enough to take everything you have. T. Jefferson

  8. #8
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    Dec 2008
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    Phoenixville, PA
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    Lightbulb Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    I harvest from cut comb foundation and crush and strain per Mike's method.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesharvest.htm

    I've got my own photo along side last year's harvest, but can't find it.

    My buckets are food grade soy sauce containers from the local Chinese restaurant. I put a 2" plastic honey gate on the side at the bottom of the lower bucket and I use a couple of pieces of poly cutting board to keep the strainer and wax above the holes (Dennis Murrell).

    I cut the comb free and let it drop from the frame directly into the bucket, break up the comb with chrome 5 gallon paint stirrer on a cordless drill, pour it into the "strainer" bucket and let gravity put it in the bottling bucket below over the next day. Then I let the liquid honey set for a couple more days so that the wax fines and bubbles "settle" to the top and jar through the gate valve. If you only count the time your fussing with the process, you spend only a fraction on what a spinning extractor consumes. Because gravity becomes your slave, the actual work goes unnoticed.

    The honey coated wax can then be rinsed and strained giving the rinse water to the bees. Easier yet, leave the honey coated wax to the bees who will give it back clean and dry if it doesn't rain. The buckets are easy rinse and wipe in a utility tub and the rest goes through the dishwasher.

    Compared to a $300 hand crank extractor, its near free and effortless.

    Piece of cake and very little mess.

    Yea yea, here it comes "All that wax could have been honey!" Not quite. The reported trade off is based on observation and poor evaluation and I'm not buying it especially since we can't figure out CCD after spending boatloads on research. Besides, beeswax candles can easily go for a buck or two with no containers, permitted kitchen, fear of contamination or inspections at your annual yard sale.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by throrope View Post
    I harvest from cut comb foundation and crush and strain per Mike's method.

    I've got my own photo along side last year's harvest, but can't find it.
    No worries. I am familiar with Mr. Bush's process, and it appears great, but I am trying to think of a way I can further streamline the process by incorporating wax melting/harvesting into it, by using a metal, instead of plastic container.

    I love your cordless drill suggestion, and I'll be doing that.

    I like your other ideas, but have a few questions.

    1) Regarding giving rinse water to the bees: Do you put it in a frame feeder? Inverted bucket? Does this not ferment?

    2) Regarding giving honey-coated wax to bees: In what manner do you give it to them? Just drop the bits it over the frames? Put the bits in a bucket on top of the top bars and cover the bucket with a super? Is it not possible for them to re-use the wax to make new comb?

  10. #10
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    Jul 2008
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    OKC, OK USA
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Usually wet wax is fed back to the bees in the open, just a pan of it sitting out 60 or 70 feet from your hives to dissuade robbing. They won't reuse the wax, at least I have never seen them do it.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    mrspock

    Thanks for your questions. This communication shares with all and makes our world a smaller and happier place.

    1) I use miller type hive top feeders that will accept the rinse, but I was too lazy with round one to put it on before it went moldy and down the drain.

    2) Second round smaller batch I just put the sticky wax outside the hive on a pan and came back to dry wax that poured like crushed cornflakes.

    The only time I noticed my bees scavenge wax was from the cut comb foundation I put in the super frames and even that was not excessive. I never saw any appreciable reclaim from burr comb, drone comb or any wax left outside the hive.

    One of the benefits of harvesting honey is the avoidance of processing that many agree destroys health benefits that our friends have given us for thousands of years with their ready to eat perfectly preserved food. Even Draper's Super Bee Apiaries whose 15 minutes of glory includes supplying honey to the White House only warms their product enough to pass though a filter press. After I was pestered by a friend who found his spring allergies when near unnoticed after enjoying my honey, I refuse to heat mine.

  12. #12
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    So, why aren't you thinking about using a two frame reversible extractor or some such small extractor?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  13. #13
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    Cool Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    So, why aren't you thinking about using a two frame reversible extractor or some such small extractor?
    If this is for me, as follows:

    I started with a package as something to do with my boys and nearly lost it twice the first year. Elated with its survival the following spring, they threw a swarm and changed that. Two weeks later they did it again and I had enough. Much to the entertainment of the neighborhood I then had two hives. The following year I harvested 50# from the first hive, but didn't pay attention to the second thinking it was still building. No. 2 swarmed and gave me No. 3.

    The honey was harvested as cut comb into plastic trays.

    Hive #1, a polystyrene hive, went mean and I was glad to give it away because I wasn't confident in its strength. It's now in north central PA with an electric fence keeping the bears safe. The following year Nos. 2 & 3 swarmed and gave me #4 & #5. Believe it or not, I've tried a number of prevention measures.

    The only thing that frosts me more than paying 200 bucks for a hive I didn't need in the first place is watching my treasured ladies up and leave me.

    The novelty of cut comb didn't endure the inconvenience, but I couldn't balance the pile of honey you could buy at the farm market for the price of a decent extractor and the cheap ones didn't look like they would last long enough to pay for themselves. Plus it all looked like too much work.

    The crush and strain is less work and mess than cut comb, costs near nothing and the buckets sit inside each other in the corner for the rest of the year.

    This also has led me to my next adventure, top bar hives. Now those swarms only cost thirty bucks and I already have the perfect "extractor".

    At six hives, a normal harvest could get me in trouble. Regulations are squeezing out small producers and I doubt I'm gonna make the leap. Mead?

  14. #14
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    Feb 2009
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    Knox County, Ohio
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    My Grandma's brother ran about 70 hives. He produced a lot of comb honey in basswood boxes. His son told me that whenever someone wanted jar honey, his Mom would chunk combs in a large cakepan, and then put it in the oven on a low heat - just enough to melt the wax. Once all the wax had melted, they would allow it to cool, and then break the wax off the top, and pour off the honey.

    You could do the same thing with a crockpot too.

  15. #15
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    May 2008
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    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    A couple of quick observations....some of you must have a lot of free time on your hands and if honey production is your goal then crushing and staining is cutting into your bees production as they have to rebuild the comb every year. Giving your bees drawn comb will greatly increase your honey, however, I can understand this method if costs are a factor. Never could understand why a metal garbage can with a half horse motor on top should cost 1000 bucks.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by throrope View Post
    Hive #1, a polystyrene hive, went mean and I was glad to give it away because I wasn't confident in its strength. It's now in north central PA with an electric fence keeping the bears safe.
    I don't think there is an emoticon to describe the sound I just made. Perhaps a picture of the coffee I just sprayed on my monitor will suffice.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Countryboy View Post
    My Grandma's brother ran about 70 hives. He produced a lot of comb honey in basswood boxes. His son told me that whenever someone wanted jar honey, his Mom would chunk combs in a large cakepan, and then put it in the oven on a low heat - just enough to melt the wax. Once all the wax had melted, they would allow it to cool, and then break the wax off the top, and pour off the honey.

    You could do the same thing with a crockpot too.
    I think this is very much what I'm shooting for - With the difference being that I plan to install a tap in the bottom of the vessel.

    Ultimately, I think I'm just going to have to try it myself, and learn/discard/improve.

  18. #18
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    Feb 2009
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    Algonquin, IL, USA
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    I do crush and strain. I take all the left over wax, and put it in a crock pot. Melt it, let it cool, and then poor off the honey. I was surprised by how much honey actually came off the left over wax.

    The left over honey is DARK. Feed it back to the bees.

    Ken

  19. #19
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    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by c10250 View Post
    I do crush and strain. I take all the left over wax, and put it in a crock pot. Melt it, let it cool, and then poor off the honey. I was surprised by how much honey actually came off the left over wax.

    The left over honey is DARK. Feed it back to the bees.

    Ken
    Naive, ill-informed question: Isn't this honey unpalatable for the bees?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Possible low-effort, low-mess honey extraction idea.

    not to the bees but likely will be to you. good luck,mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

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