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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Posts
    82

    Default Equipment for medium to small bee house

    What equipment would you guys recommend for the honey house for 50 to 150 hives? Right now I have 50 +/- hives, but am needing to expand to 100-150 hives. My problem is time to work in the honey house. Right now I have:

    Dadant 20 Frame Extractor
    Electric uncapping knife.

    What would you guys recommend to add to the operation. I have looked at power uncappers, but the problem I have right now is the honey going to sugar and how to reheat it.

    So, I am looking at heated storage tank, or a cappings tank that can have a heater installed in it to heat water and honey.

    Just looking for ideas from people that have experience.

    Thanks,
    Oscar

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Philadelphia, MS, USA
    Posts
    633

    Default Re: Equipment for medium to small bee house

    Hi Oscar, we are in the same boat. we hav increased to about 150 hives and are looking at equipment to simplify extracting. We currently have an 8 ft Kelly uncapping tank and Kelly 21 frame extractor. Daddy uncaps with an electric knife so once he loads the extractor he uncaps the next 21 while the first 21 spin. The extractor drains thru a sieve into a 5 gal bucket that he dumps into 55 gal drums. This works good because he likes to seperate the light and dark honey since we have customers who prefer one over the other.

    We have an 80 gallon jacketed bottling tank from Kelly with a bottling valve. This has really improved our bottling ability over a 5 gal bucket with gate valve. We just need a second one for light honey. We use a 1" gear pump to pump from the barrels to the bottling tank.

    I have looked at a friends silver queen uncapper and although it is nice I just can't justify $7200

    I would love a heated sump for the extractor to dump in but it would make it hard to seperate the light vs dark. I also need a hot room to liqufy drums of hony that have turned to sugar.

    Hope this helps and maybe someone has some other good ideas.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,988

    Default Re: Equipment for medium to small bee house

    Cappings spinner. I was lucky to get one long before a power uncapper and find it essential.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Virgil, NY USA
    Posts
    74

    Default Re: Equipment for medium to small bee house

    I found a simple way to liquify pails and drums of honey easily. Build an insulated chamber( box ) out of 2" foil faced foam board. Use 4" pole barn nails to hold it together or duct tape. Buy a thermostat controller from walter kelley- $75) and connect it to a $20 milkhouse heater( 1500 watt space heater-metal construction) that you can buy at lowes or the nearest home store. Bypass the thermostat and overheat controls in the heater, connect to the external thermostat and run it at 115-140 deg to liquify the honey. lasts for years. Put the container of honey up off the bottom on 2X 4 to allow circulation . A fan inside helps also. Dont forget to insulate the bottom of the box also. We have one that will hold 9 drums at a time and it takes about 4 days this time of year. Our small one holds 6 5 gallon pails and will liquify them in 24 hrs. If you want to go real cheap, build the box and use a lightbulb in the bottom wired to a thermostat or just plug it in and keep a close eye on it with a lower watt bulb.
    Nick

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    282

    Default Re: Equipment for medium to small bee house

    I think Maxant has an uncapper that sits on top of their cappings spinner, check their webpage for the price. I don't own any of their equiment yet but they seem to get good reviews.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default Re: Equipment for medium to small bee house

    We did the 50 - 150 jump about 12 years ago and made a few mistakes. Too often we underestimated what we would need. With 150 well managed hives you are looking at as many as 5000 frames a season and as much as 20,000 lbs of honey. Stop and think about those numbers for just a moment. Pails and electic planes and knives are a thing of the past. It is no longer a hobby and is at least a part time job so realize your experiance at 150 will be much different than 50. A good year can pay for a ton of good processing equipment so think now about investing in the future if you are serious. Nothing makes a long season like a lack of equipment. 1st thing I'd do is tour an exisiting operation - whatever size, to see what's happening. You'll need a committed operation with heat and at least an insulated warming closet.

    Your extractor as a 20/40 will serve you well at 150 hives. Here's the rest I might suggest. We run all maxant equipment and are happy but most of the dedicated bee supply people I think do a similarly good job

    1) Some type of chain uncapper is good at your size - we run 350 2 queen units on a Maxant model and are pretty happy
    2) 2 uncapping tanks and storage for cappings - You'll be uncapping 120 frames an hour or so and you'll need to have space to put all those honey soaked cappings
    3) Water jacketed Clarifier - Maxant 200 lb, with a float switch works well - at the end of run you can dump all the capping is set it at 145 - 150 and in the morning you have bulk wax on top and good honey on the bottom to pump off.
    4) Honey pump and hoses - moves honey from the clarifier into bottling tanks on stands or drums for storage
    5) Honey Tanks - at least 1 600 lb and a 300 lb for smaller specialty honey runs. ( also need about 15 - 55 gallon drums for bulk storage above the tanks)
    6) Drum heater - Your honey will crystalize in the drums, we can liquefy and bottle or liquify and run into the claifier using a honey gate and drum tipper.
    7) Drum tipper - for bottling out of drums or processing off season honey through the clarifier
    8) Drum cart - full drums weigh as much as 700 lbs and I've yet to see a hand truck than moves them easily
    9) Hot room/closet - ours holds 100 cases of honey, is heated with a temp controled oil radiator. Can liquify 4 drums at a time or about 40 supers @ 100F.
    10) Method to process a great deal of cappings wax - we use a 1/2 a 55 gallon drum/water over open fire to get 40 lb blocks - then into the candle room and a crock put to be filtered through old t-shirts into a 2nd crock pot for candle pouring.
    11) Storage for bulk honey drums, retail containers and such. Think in terms of 50 - 100 cases at a time or just sell bulk in drums

    We found one of the biggest helps is to pull honey as it is ready in each season. More variety, spreads the extracing through the season.

    An uncapping table (holds 40 uncapped frames) is great and will speed things up but not a necessity

    This would be the minimum I would want for 150 and will get you through quite a bit of expansion.
    Last edited by Joel; 01-21-2013 at 07:10 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Location
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Posts
    82

    Default Re: Equipment for medium to small bee house

    Everyone, thanks for the replies.

    Joel, I appreciate the list of things that will be needed.

    I bought many of my bees and hives from an older retired gentleman and he has the double wall heater for heating 5 gal tubs. I have full use of his old equipment, but it is slow. He ran up to 60 hives at one time and all he ever used was the uncapping knife, 4 frame tangential hand extractor, a small cappings tank (antique galvanized hand washing machine with a home made cappings screen on top, honey flowed out the bottom through a hose when it was full), and then a big storage tank with cheesecloth filter on top to filter the honey. He was pretty fast with his setup, but I don't know how many hours a day he spent extracting.

    I am not retired, (farmer), have a young daughter and family to spend time with, along with other tasks around the house. So, no I don't want to spend huge amounts of time extacting honey when it can be done more efficiently with equipment.

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