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  1. #1
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    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    2,776

    Default uncapping for 100 hives

    I'm not commercial, but am running about 60 colonies now and hope to get to about 100 within a year. Currently I do all the honey processing myself, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I'd like to bring some level of automation to the uncapping problem, which as of now is the tall pole within the process. It seems that the Maxant chain uncapper might be a potential solution to this bottleneck. I'd like to hear from others the pros and cons of automation in uncapping and any particular comments about Maxant's chain uncapper.

    My understanding of the chain uncapper is that it will put a lot of small wax particles into the honey, which will pose issues with screening the honey. I guess most people using such a process use a settling tank to allow the wax to float off and get processed separately. I have a 40 gallon jacketed tank that I think I could use as a settling tank. I realize that 40 gallons will then become the bottleneck, but as a one man operation, I'd be happy with 40 gallons per day.

    I welcome any comments.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,812

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    An uncapper is nice, but does not generate revenue, just saves you time. I would buy a GOOD electric knife, insurance on your other hand, and save the money to get a better uncapper. Do it right the first time.

    Crazy Roland

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Castle Rock, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    269

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    A chain uncapper, fed into a cappings spinner, drained into a heated, water jacketed, settling tank (sump) works rather well, although the cappings tend to become drenched in honey all too soon. I have all Maxant, but have never incorporated my chain uncapper (a mentor did).

    'Hot knife gets really old with 60-75 hives and 2-300 supers. Cappings get drenched, all the same.

    Nice concept, though...If I were building UP, I might dust the uncapper off...
    After 35 years, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,612

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    I think your in line for a silver queen, my first thought was a chain uncapper.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
    Posts
    780

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Get the Silver queen. It will pay off...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    chilliwack, bc
    Posts
    659

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Learn how to use an uncapping plane will be a heck of a lot cheaper and just about as fast as a chain uncapper. Maxant sells them and it's what I use.

    In 1992 we had 110+ hives and I extracted 28,000+ pounds using a uncapping plane and a ten frame radial.
    Will Gruenwald Chilliwack BC

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,624

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    I'm not commercial, but am running about 60 colonies now and hope to get to about 100 within a year.
    I welcome any comments.
    I grew up working in our families 5,000 hive operation in an extracting room manned by 3 good people, 2 of them with a Master uncapping knife in hand and the third running 2 or 3 50 frame radial extractors. Cappings were uncapped directly into a modified extractor with a bottom in it and perforated holes around the outside of the reel. We typically extracted about 2 drums (1,300 lbs.) per hour if the boxes were full. Hard work? Yes, but imminently doable. Handling a hot uncapping knife is a bit of a lost art form. Quiet, neat, no broken frames, no missed cappings, no worries about brood getting uncapped, no adjustments or machinery to break down and ahh the aroma.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Chesterfield, NH
    Posts
    504

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    This may do a good job for you if you not going over a 100 hive or so.

    http://youtu.be/gL7Eoo5OIrU

    looks like a
    Kelley's Electric Vibrating Knife with a Maxant capping spinner

    http://www.pacificcrestapiaries.com/id33.html

    WAX AND HONEY DROPS DOWN INTO WAX MELTER


    BEE HAPPY Jim 134
    Last edited by Jim 134; 06-29-2014 at 03:04 PM.
    Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA.
    http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Chesterfield, NH
    Posts
    504

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    This may do a good job for you if you not going over a 100 hive or so.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiLQeSs-9Zg



    BEE HAPPY Jim 134
    Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA.
    http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,776

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Thanks for the valuable feedback.

    So, can I correctly interpreted the feedback as a vote of lack of confidence in the Maxant chain uncapper? The videos that I've seen make a good impression, and its priced well below the silver queen unit. The silver queen unit seems like a great machine but, well above my price range. If my interpretation is correct, then would someone care to provide specific feedback on why the Maxant is not recommended?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,624

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    I really wish you folks could have seen a well run hand uncapping honey house in action. I haven't found anything more than a few lame videos demonstrating hand uncapping to the tune of well over a minute per frame when a skilled person with properly heated knife can actually do a frame in about 20 seconds INCLUDING the top and bottom bar, something no uncapping machine is capable of doing.
    Yes, we eventually made the switchover to an uncapping machine. Primarily because an unskilled worker can be quickly trained to do the job at 3 times the speed. Make no mistake about it, though. No machine can do the job as well or as neatly as it can be done by hand.
    Sorry if I come off as an old curmudgeon espousing the old ways but as I said, I guess you just need to see and experience it in action to fully understand.
    A silver queen? If that's your price range, then that's a horse of a different color. It will do around a box per minute and is a machine fully capable of doing the job for several thousand hives and is capable of extracting the honey from a hundred hives in about a day. If you are thinking of putting one in then bear in mind that it can uncap at least as fast as 2, 50 frame radials can extract. We ran 4, 50's behind ours for quite a few years.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  12. #12

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Jim it sounds like a great project for you. :-)
    David

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,612

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    why the Maxant is not recommended?
    oh it will do the trick for you,
    they are just a little cumbersome, loud, messy, but quick and does a good job.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,776

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    I really wish you folks could have seen a well run hand uncapping honey house in action. I haven't found anything more than a few lame videos demonstrating hand uncapping to the tune of well over a minute per frame when a skilled person with properly heated knife can actually do a frame in about 20 seconds INCLUDING the top and bottom bar, something no uncapping machine is capable of doing.
    Yes, we eventually made the switchover to an uncapping machine. Primarily because an unskilled worker can be quickly trained to do the job at 3 times the speed. Make no mistake about it, though. No machine can do the job as well or as neatly as it can be done by hand.
    Sorry if I come off as an old curmudgeon espousing the old ways but as I said, I guess you just need to see and experience it in action to fully understand.
    A silver queen? If that's your price range, then that's a horse of a different color. It will do around a box per minute and is a machine fully capable of doing the job for several thousand hives and is capable of extracting the honey from a hundred hives in about a day. If you are thinking of putting one in then bear in mind that it can uncap at least as fast as 2, 50 frame radials can extract. We ran 4, 50's behind ours for quite a few years.
    Jim,

    I do really appreciate your input. Some of the constraints I'm facing is that I'm a one man operation. I do not plan to bring in extra help, so I'm looking for a solution with this constraint in mind. Regarding the silver queen, I realize that not only is it way beyond my current and projected needs, it is outside of my budget. If I could do 20 seconds per frame, that is something I would consider. However, everyone I've seen using a hot knife is no faster than I am with a good cold knife. In fact, I invited a 40 year veteran beekeeper to my facility to extract where we did side-by-side uncapping. He used his favorite hot knife and I used a cold knife. I was about 30% faster than he was, but still not fast enough for my liking.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,624

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    In fact, I invited a 40 year veteran beekeeper to my facility to extract where we did side-by-side uncapping. He used his favorite hot knife and I used a cold knife. I was about 30% faster than he was, but still not fast enough for my liking.
    Not trying to in any way be rude but I am really having trouble with the visual picture of a 40 year veteran with a heated knife getting outpaced by someone wielding a cold knife. Hand uncapping was something of a legacy in our family with the standard always being that you were expected to do 150 to 200 medium boxes per day and we did it daily for weeks on end.
    A Master uncapping knife has a touchy thermostat. They need to be turned high enough to do the job when in continuously use but NEVER left "dry" for long or they can be burned out. When properly adjusted it is quite literally like a hot knife through butter. A single swath through a medium frame should be no more than 3 to 4 seconds per side another 5 to 10 seconds on the top and bottom bars and the rest of the time is devoted to removing the frames, scraping the box and setting the uncapped frame on a holding rack or directly in the extractor. A fourth person in the extracting room could speed things quite a bit by relieving the uncapper a from the work of scraping boxes and carting in more stacks of honey. Deeps take a bit longer though it is quite possible to cut them in a single swath as well. As I said, I guess you just need to see it in action to fully understand. The fact that you are working alone makes it somewhat of a moot point, though, as a hot knife should never be left unattended for more than a minute or so, which means constantly unplugging and reheating which isn't a good option.
    Sorry, I disrupted your thread, I'll let it die. Best of luck.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,612

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    I know a guy running 600 hives who hired a few students and gave them scratching forks... work well as long as he had the students to work
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Skiff, Alberta, CA
    Posts
    605

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    What about Kelly's electric vibrating knife. Would that work for you? Maybe someone on here has some experience with one.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
    Posts
    1,263

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    use an uncapping plane and put your money into handling cappings as this will be your bottleneck.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,776

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Quote Originally Posted by Haraga View Post
    What about Kelly's electric vibrating knife.
    That's what Jim_134 posted above. I'd like to hear more from others who have used such a system.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,776

    Default Re: uncapping for 100 hives

    Quote Originally Posted by beeware10 View Post
    use an uncapping plane and put your money into handling cappings as this will be your bottleneck.
    No personal experience, but I'd have to say that the reviews on the uncapping planes are all over the map. Many claim to have used it once or twice and given up. What brand plane are you using?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

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