I am interested in hearing from the commercial guys what your progression was in terms of honey processing/handling.

I started with a 9 frame extractor, cappings plastic tubs, plastic strainers that fit inside 5 gallon buckets. Last year during my big flow I processed 45 gallons of honey (not a lot for commercial guys i'm sure). Last year I ended up with 20 hives but this year I want to end up with about 50. I can see an issue coming down the road where man handling 5 gallon buckets all over the place is going to be cumbersome and inefficient.

What is the next step in honey processing. Do I move to 55-gallon food grade drums and put pour spouts on them? If the honey is in 55 gallon drums how do you dehumidify? Most of my honey will be bottled and sold retail.

I could see processing next year getting to 3000lbs at a time. To process that amount would it be better to get a 2nd 9 frame extractor and while one is spinning (its motorized) fill the 2nd one instead of getting a larger extractor? This would allow me to scale my operation up without investment into huge equipment initially. In the extracting process the extractor is the slow part of my line right now. I would look at getting some help with this process as I get over 50 hives. Eventually I probably would get the uncapping person a small scale mechanical uncapper. Then replace the 9 frame extractors with 21 frame. Etc.... That is what I am trying to figure out, what the progression is for people...and at how many hives (or pound of processing) did they move to the next level. How do I handle moving that much honey without a fork lift...etc.

Current process:
1. Uncap frames with uncapping knife/bread knife in uncapping tubs.
2. Load frames in 9 frame extractor and spin out honey.
3. Uncap more frames while waiting for step 2.
4. Repeat Steps 1-3
5. Drain honey out of extractor through strainer into 5 gallon food grade bucket.
6. Put open buckets in a closet with dehumidifier to remove excess water.
7. Pour honey into 5 gallon bucket with honey gate.
8. Let honey sit for a day to remove air bubbles.
9. Wash Mason Jars for bottling.
10. Bottle honey.

New processing line?
1. Uncapping person cuts cappings off
2. Extractor loader puts frames in two extractors (Add 3rd extractor for future expansion)
3. Pour gallon buckets out of extractor through strainer into 55gal drum
4. How do I dehumidify?
5. Pour honey out of drums into bottles