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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keller, Tx
    Posts
    334

    Default Help streamlining and increasing honey processing.

    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
    "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." - Thomas Jefferson

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,367

    Default Re: Help streamlining and increasing honey processing.

    Lupester. I am not sure you would want to make the leap to large drums for awhile as they bring a whole new set of handling problems. Unfortnately until you are ready to make the investment in some sort of auto load extracting set up your best bet is probably to trade up to larger radial extractors as needed. I am sure There are a lot of very nice smaller extracting set ups that posters on here have developed..... anyone?
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,911

    Default Re: Help streamlining and increasing honey processing.

    A water jacket bottling tank would be a good investment, especially because your packing your own honey. You will want SS and probably incorperate a filtering pumping process from your extractor to your tank. Less times you handle the honey the less chance you will adulterate your product.

    As for the extraction process, its all up to what your interested in and how much money you have to spend. I know a beekeeper up here who run a few hundred hives who hired some school kids and capping scratcher to uncap honey. Also know of a fellow who run a few thousand hives with 2 raidal 80 frame extractors and a flail chain.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,884

    Default Re: Help streamlining and increasing honey processing.

    Your honey should not contain excess water that needs DE-humidifying unless it is some special type. I do 2.5 tons plus with an old Cowan uncapper, using a 20 frame extractor that will fit 44 mediums, into an old straining box with two sizes of stainless screens, pumped into 100g holding tanks through nylon stockings, and then bottled. We set up two 20 framers for a few years but found two did not speed us up much. Our straining box is our slowdown.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: Help streamlining and increasing honey processing.

    I work by myself with no employees. I uncap until my 20-frame is full. While it is spinning, I uncap 20 more frames. I have a tank made for the purpose of holding 20 uncapped frames while the previous 20 spin out.

    I purchased an additional 12-frame but could not keep up with it so I sold it.

    I still use 5-gallon buckets. They're easier to move than drums.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Greene County, NY, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Help streamlining and increasing honey processing.

    Hi Grant
    Happy Easter
    Just bought a used 20 frame. Was looking to do it the way you metioned in your post. Don't have a good uncapping tank yet that will hold 20 frames.
    Any suggestions?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keller, Tx
    Posts
    334

    Default Re: Help streamlining and increasing honey processing.

    Wow, thanks for all the replies.

    Ian - what does a water jacketed bottling tank get me? Do you use that because its colder up there? We are usually uncapping and bottling in 85-105 degrees. I don't have a honey house so its usually in the garage with plastic rolled out on everything. We are trying to do the same crop down here next year again so I want to do almost the same setup as you.(But scaled down for my number of hives)

    Grant - Thanks for your book, I bought it two years back. Its great!
    "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." - Thomas Jefferson

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,911

    Default Re: Help streamlining and increasing honey processing.

    You were talking about canola honey. You will need a way of keeping it from granulating in your storage tank. Or if your creaming your product, you have to start with liquid honey, which you seed into. This all can be done in your bottling tank but you have to warm the honey first off so that you start without any granulation present. A water jacketed tank will make your life alot easier. I understand low budget because its how I started also. It might be something you work into but keep your eye open and if you find one buy it. Just make sure its SS and not galvanized.

    Hope that helps!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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