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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    West Lafayette, IN, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    Hello bee source community,

    my name is Max and I am part of a Senior Design Project team in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, Indiana.
    Our project goal is to design a semi-automated machine for filling honey straws.
    From our first research we found out, that a lot of bee keepers are in need of a low budget, below $1000, straw filling machine. But it seems that there is no working small scale machine currently on the market to make this process easier.

    If you are a honey producer or honey distributor and are interested or you know someone who could be interested, please help us to create a customer profile. We want our design to totally match with the expectations of the poeple, that would eventually use the machine.

    Important points would be:

    - wished production rate per hour/day/week
    - batch size
    - grade of automation, manual control
    - power source: manually, electric....
    - size/dimension limits
    - price range: per machine, per produced honey stick.
    - packaging material

    If I forgot something or if you have any idea, please feel free to add!

    Thank you all in advance! I am looking forward to a great project.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,587

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    Honey straws would be perfect for free samples, demonstrations and packaged sales, club events - but for me the machine would have to be more in the $500 price range, straw price would have to be less than 15 cents per, but a fairly low production rate manual machine would be fine as long as it worked well and was a durable investment. Something like this YouTube video of a manual progressive ammunition hand loader.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    602

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    Honey straws are perfect for free samples. My kid got a few at a bee shop where I bought his suit and if I remember right they were selling for 15 cents per straw. I would think 1 m X 1 m and between 1.5 m to 2 m high would be great, automated running on 110v if possible using whatever kind of plastic that is currently used (dunno if biodegradable is an option or practical for the straw). I'm not sure how many mL goes into a straw currently but it would be a consideration in batch size because of the use of 5 gallon buckets for honey storage. A 6 gallon reservoir would be nice so a 5 gallon bucket of honey could be loaded and then be able to run all of it out of the machine. Maybe 5 gallons is a bit ambitious but no one's saying a person would have to necessarily run a 5 gallon batch. If you could keep the straw under 10 cents per and make the machine proper for $500 I would also buy one... tomorrow

    Sounds like a good, worthwhile, project which could possibly net your team some money in real life. I wish you the best.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,056

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    It would be great if it could do half-straws. Not the full length all the time. I'm just thinking it would be nice if it could do like full or/and half length. I think the 6 gal is over kill for a small producer. To me 6 gal would be industrual production. I think you would get a lot of straws from a gal. 2 gal would be fine for me. and if you could get it $500. I think you could have a winner that the hobby guy wanting to expand would go for.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
    Posts
    788

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    I would think the cost per each would need to be under 10 cents. Batch would likely be 400 or 500 as that is typically how many straws come in a box. I'd be interested in such a gizmo if it were in the $500 range. Good luck. -James Wagner

  6. #6

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    I would love a machine like this. I looked at one in the $5,000 range so if you can get it down to $1000 that would be great.
    wished production rate per hour/day/week

    - batch size 500-1000 per day
    - grade of automation, manual control The more automated the better.
    - power source: manually, electric.... electric for pump manual for sealing?
    - size/dimension limits if this could be about the size of a theater popcorn machine.
    - price range: per machine, per produced honey stick. $1000- $1500 this will drop the more you make.
    - packaging material has to be food grade.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
    Posts
    1,165

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    the biggest problem would be paying for the machine. while it was a fad a few years ago many stores have bad memorys getting rid of stock. maybe its been long enough that the cycle would work again?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    We sold honey straws at craft shows and couldn't keep enough made. I was using a manual filler and it didn't work at all. If you could make a machine that filled the straws and SEALED them (which is the hardest part of the process) automatically for around $500 I would buy it tommorrow! You can sell a truck load of straws but, at 25 cents each, it takes a lot of truckloads to pay for that $1000 machine.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    P.S. let me know when you get the machine made!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    915

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    The Original Honey Sticks are still produced in Salem Oregon.

    http://www.originalhoneystix.com/

    Before you get all excited about purchacing a machine, do a cost analysis and determine how many lifetimes it will take to justify the investment.
    Nature's Kick Honey Sticks have very attractive pricing for wholesale relationships.
    They are also VERY GOOD people to deal with.
    They were beekeepers first, Manufacturers second.
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,424

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    Harry, I was going to say the same thing. I think if you get them made.by the bucket they cost less than 7 each. If you can't buy the empty straws and make them for less.than that, a machine is a.losing proposition.

    Deknow

  12. #12

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    it has cost me $1500 plus shipping both ways to have a drum of honey processed into sticks. if we bring that operation in house it would pay for itself.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    West Lafayette, IN, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    Hello all,

    thank you so much for all your answes so far.

    First hand experience is relly helpful to us.

    @rainesridgefarm:
    May I ask, how much you finally pay to Nature's Kich for each produced stick including shipping?

    You wrote up to 1000 sticks per day. For the performance of the machine, a required production rate per hour is very important to us.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,424

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    having a pail of honey processed into sticks costs about $250, and yeilds between 4-4500 sticks. A barrel would be more than 10 times that yeild.

    $1500 for over 50,000 sticks for less than 4 cents a piece and no work on your part...how cheap would they have to be in order to justify spending cash on a machine, and wages for someone to keep it loaded....and what will it cost you in wasted sticks to keep it calibrated? will you get curved sticks (like some of the machines available purportedly do)? Will you have to justify to the health dept that all materials are food grade and cleanable?

    I'm all for innovation, but sometimes when one machine exists, there is no need for more.

    deknow

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,197

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    Competition is always good!
    Regards, Barry

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,424

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    agreed....but even if the machine were free and I could get ready to fill straws for 1 cent and i could fill 1 straw every 30 seconds, it would take 25000 minutes to fill 50k straws it's still over 400 hours to fill them (10 work weeks). I'd spend the 3 more cents.

    deknow

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    915

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    Sending certain work out is a way beekeepers can get help without the hastle of hiring, workmans comp, etc.....
    Buy an un needed machine and you can count on needing extra bodies in the shop to keep up.
    Pay the pros to do it and spend the time saved keeping your bees alive and healthy!
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    West Lafayette, IN, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    deknow,

    how high would the stick rate per hour need to be, that you would see the advantages in such a machine?

    a 1000 per hour?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,424

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    You are missing the primary question...how many honeystix do I need?

    If I needed millions?...well, 1000/hour I could run through a barrel in 50 hours? So a long work week of my time or someone elses (that presumably I would be paying for a weeks work) to save $1500. Then I _still_ have to pay for the empty straws (at 1cent/each, $500), the machine itself, power for the machine, maintaining the machine, space to keep the machine, loss of product/time when the machine goes haywire, etc. ...to trade $1000 for a long weeks work?

    Now, a cheap machine where a beekeeper could run small quantities of their own honey into a straw without heating/filtering (required by honeystix) and packed raw might have a market....but someone already has a giant machine to do this, and they charge a reasonable enough rate that I wouldn't bother to compete with it.

    deknow

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,197

    Default Re: Semi-automatic honey sticks/straws filling machine

    Perhaps mentioning the OP is needed.

    "below $1000, straw filling machine"

    If it already cost one $1,500 for 50,000 sticks, I see room for this idea to work. I'd rather keep my honey on site than send it out and be out of my control.

    Keep moving forward Stix Fix.
    Regards, Barry

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