Best Extractor for Hobbyist
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
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    Fargo, North Dakota, USA
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    27

    Default Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    So apparently I am going to be getting funds for an extractor/bottling system for my birthday! I just don't know which one. I've never seen an extractor in action. Does anyone have any suggestions? I've looked about online, but since I've never used one I'm not sure what I'm looking for. I'm not looking for anything complicated, just something compact and easy to use. I'll only have two hives.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
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    1,530

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunny View Post
    I'll only have two hives.
    So you don't have them yet? Then it is unlikely that you'll use that extractor for at least a year. Use that time to get some hands-on via other beeks. Features I like may be annoying for you and vice versa. You don't need an extractor to harvest honey, so don't be afraid to take your time selecting one. You need to know your ultimate goals as a beekeeper in order to know which--if any--will work best for you. If your ultimate goal turns out to be 20-30 hives, for example, investing in a 2 framer extractor now would be a waste of your resources.

    Take your time.


    JMO

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper and Rusty's Bees.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Oyster Bay, NY, USA
    Posts
    476

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    The Maxant 3100H-2 is wonderful. It is hand powered but if you ever expand your beekeeping and get a lot of hives, maxant makes a motor attachment for it. Made in the USA! Very solid and sturdy and unbreakable. It holds its value so if you ever want to resell it, you will not lose much on your investment.

    People will tell you that if you only have a few hives you should not spend on extractor, but I say, If you have the money and want an extractor, get one. It's great to have liquid honey, no crush-and-strain, and you can save the wax combs for the bees to reuse. The only downside is you're out $300, but if you have $300 to spend on this beekeeping luxury, then enjoy. People spend a lot more on all kinds of other things.

    Like you, I was lucky to be given an extractor in my first year of beekeeping (one hive) and it was a joy. My bees did well enough that we did get a honey harvest and we loved cranking the extractor amd seeing the honey flow out when we opened the honey gate at the bottom.

    Good luck and happy beekeeping!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Lee\'s Summit, MO
    Posts
    2,514

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    Rusty and Westhill are both right. I started out with a used Kelly reversible 2 frame when I had 2 hives and thought it was great! When I got to 10 hives I realized it was my bottleneck. I sold it for what I bought it for and bought a Dadant 20/36 I never thought I'd fully use. I lost the money I spent on freighting the Kelly in, but used it for 4 years so it came out to spending $50 annually for an extractor. I'm now fully using my Dadant 20/36 and have all types of supporting equipment to save time. Don't be afraid of buying equipment to save time and understand you can sell it off and replace it with larger equipment as you grow. It comes down to what's more important, time or money. For me at this time in my life, time is much more important than money.
    Ninja, is not in the dictionary. Well played Ninja's, well played...

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Sarasota, FL
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    I got an extractor my first year. I love it! But storing drawn comb is a giant pain where I live (FL). If I leave them wet the hive beetles and wax moths take over and I have a bee frenzy trying to rob them.....so when I treated with BT they ended up molding a bit. And obviously when I left them open the bees robbed them out and basically destroyed the comb.

    Even though I have an extractor I still do some crush and strain. I am cheap so I ordered the walter kelley foundationless frames. Because I can save alot of money not having to pay for foundations and comb honey sells very well. I place them between two rite cell frames and they get drawn out very nicely.

    The great thing about crush and strain is you get lots of beautifull wax. Beeswax candles make great christmas presents!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Posts
    185

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    As a newbee, I agree with Rusty. There are many other important things to spend your money on in the first year other than an extractor (believe me, I'll make you a list!), especially since most bee clubs have good extractors available for rent, and you don't have to store it! Use that time to save up for a really good extractor - a 9-12 frame radial with a side hand crank should serve you well.

    Now, having said that, I must confess that I bought an extractor in my first month of beekeeping! I came across a nice man who was getting out of beekeeping due to a back injury, and I bought all his old stuff (not used woodenware) for a steal. The extractor he sold me is the best extractor I've ever seen - a CFM from Germany. I love this extractor! But my hives did not yield any honey this year. Fortunately, I volunteer at my local zoo and we have ten hives there. Between the zoo hives and my neighbors, my extractor got a few good uses, otherwise it would have sat in the garage : (. Still, it was used a grand total of maybe only 7.5 hours. It was definitely a splurge, but I hope that next year and the years to come will give me more chance to use my extractor and justify the expense.
    Last edited by ritan1; 12-22-2015 at 11:34 AM.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota, USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    I should have elaborated more. I already have one active hive and I am building another right now. My initial investments are pretty much covered. Being as I can't keep bees where I live, my number of potential hives is currently limited to two, unless I find someone else who is willing to let me put them on their land. I didn't exract honey this fall as I didn't have anything to do it with, and I was also just curious to see how much the bees would consume over the winter so I could guage how much I should leave them with in the future.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Tipton, TN, USA
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    783

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    Quote Originally Posted by Swampsquash View Post
    But storing drawn comb is a giant pain where I live (FL).
    You can always extract as normal, then drop the frames in a solar melter. Collect the wax off the top and use the darker honey for making mead or cooking.

    I believe several people do this, I'm debating on doing it for the same reasons you listed. It's definitely easier to store a bunch of empty frames, than fight with moths, beetles, mice, etc... But it comes at a cost of potential honey made... have to weigh the pros/cons..

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
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    6,034

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    Sunny, what's your goal? Two hives and call it done? If so, you can probably get by with about any cheap extractor or even just scrape and strain your foundation (easy to do if it's plastic) and call it good.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Sandy, OR
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    498

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    Everyone here is pointing out the right questions. I'd seriously look at a membership with your local club and see if they have an extractor available (most do). If you are dead set on buying the "best" there is little to no question that Maxant and Dadant make them. Anything else is simply uncivilized.
    Zone 8a - Elev.~ 1,100 ft. Sandy, OR.
    Apiculture: A culmination of animal husbandry and alchemy.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Fargo, North Dakota, USA
    Posts
    27

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    jwcarlson
    Sunny, what's your goal? Two hives and call it done?
    For the foreseeable future. Would I like to have more; absolutely! Can I have more than two; not at the current location. Could I set another couple hives out at an additional location; working on it. I unfortunately live in town and have virtually no yard at my house.

    DirtyLittleSecret
    I'd seriously look at a membership with your local club and see if they have an extractor available (most do).
    I do belong to a local beekeeping group, but it's nothing official. Everyone pretty much sticks to themselves from what I have seen. Otherwise, yes I have thought of that and talked it over, and while it would be great for us to save that money, between my two jobs and continuous home renovations, my partner decided to just invest in one for me as a gift to make my life a little more convenient.

    Luckily for me that place where I keep my hives is only five minutes max from my house. At the moment, I don't really have a use for wax, so I was thinking I could take the frames that were ready, drive home, extract, drive back and put the frames back in the hives. When I have spare frames of drawn comb I could just switch them out right there and store the frames I just exacted, but I don't have spare drawn comb and space in my basement for storing things comes at a premium.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Niagara, NY, US
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Best Extractor for Hobbyist

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunny View Post

    my partner decided to just invest in one for me as a gift to make my life a little more convenient.

    At the moment, I don't really have a use for wax,
    First let me heartily second the Maxant 3100H-2 radial recommendation. We only have three hives but sometimes they'll fill super after super. We've done (and still do) crush and strain and we've given gravity and an inexpensive tangential a try. We're somewhat idiosyncratic and don't cross-wire but unlike tangential we've never had a blow-out doing radial. If you do all medium frames like we do drawn comb is precious resource (well it always precious but you need to rotate out brood comb) and we find a nice extractor helps us achieve the goal of accumulating it. By the way I'd take a weekend to gravity extract before using a shared extractor unless I was completely comfortable with the bio-security protocols.

    I wouldn't buy an extractor in lieu of something you need more. Say your hives are in bear country -- I'd suggest bear protection over a extractor unless you're selling enough honey to pay for an extractor. As is usually the case it comes down to time versus money versus need and their relationship to your goals. We have more extra money than extra time (and no bears) so we buy things to save time (like the Maxant) and to make our time with the bees as productive as possible.

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