Honey spinning method
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  1. #1
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    Aug 2015
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    Adelaide, Australia
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    Default Honey spinning method

    I've recently purchased a good quality 20 frame radial honey extractor. I'm seeking to learn the most efficient way of using this thing.

    I haven't got a hot knife yet. Is there anything I should be looking for when purchasing such?

    I have an old fridge that I use as an insulation unit, it has an old small oil heater. I'm under the impression that, if I place my honey supers in there beforehand to warm up, that it'd make the spinning easier. Is there any temperature range I should be setting it to?

    Since it's radial, I can spin it in either direction. I assume that, much like a car, it'd be bad for the gears if I have it going quickly in one direction, and then reverse the engine to get it to spin the other direction. When using it, I've been basically stopping the spinning before spinning it the other direction. I've noticed that, if I turn off the engine, it stops spinning faster than if I simply put the spinning at 0, neutral not spinning in either direction. I'm not sure how cautious I should be, how much I need to wait for it to stop.

    I've learned that the comb can easily be damaged in these things. What are some practices that I can do to minimise comb damage when spinning?

    The extractor has a honey gate on the bottom. I figure it'd be best to then place a sieve, honey strainer underneath, sitting on top of a honeybucket with a honeygate on it, so that it goes straight from the extractor and strains into the bucket.

    I'm really unsure what I should do with the sticky frames after spinning. If I just leave them out in my shed, I'll have exposed honey constantly which will invite animals to feast upon it, like bugs and maybe even mouses. I read that it's common for people to store frames in freezers, but my freezer simply does not have the space to store such.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Can only speak to two points. Yes on the honey strainer and bucket but watch that the extractor doesn't walk around while spinning. If you miss the bucket you will have a mess.
    As far as the wet frames, either put them back in the hives for a few days or set them outside away from your hives. In both cases the bees will clean them right up and then you can store them properly.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
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    Aug 2015
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    Adelaide, Australia
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    So I'll have to set up some beehives at home then?

  5. #4
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    Mar 2014
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    Red Bud, IL, USA
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    So I'll have to set up some beehives at home then?
    That's a personal situation, I transport wet frames (stickies) to the hives at the home yard and outyards the same or next day. One warning is to take robbing precautions if you're not in a flow.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    In the radial extractor I had the frames were placed with the top bar next to the wall of the extractor and the bottom bar toward the center of the extractor. This allowed the honey to be removed from both sides of the comb at the same time while the comb was spinning. There was no need to spin the comb in both directions.

    As for time used in spinning the comb, look at the side of the extractor and see if the side has honey striking the side while the comb spins. When you see honey no longer dimpling the extractor side at high speed, you have removed all that you can extract.

    When placing wet comb back on top of a colony above the inner cover to be cleaned, place an empty super on the inner cover and then the wet comb. This causes the bees to take the honey down into the colony. If the wet supers are placed directly on the colony the bees simply clean the comb and store the honey in a few cells on the same comb instead of taking it below and storing it around the brood.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  7. #6
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    Aug 2015
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    Adelaide, Australia
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    I was wondering about that AR Beekeeper. I'm just using a hivematt instead of a inner cover. Would a queen exlcluder as well help encourage them to store the honey down below?

  8. #7
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Don't think the qe will do the job. In normal usage, they store the honey above it. You can cut a small hole in the hive mat or maybe fold it over if it is not too thick to allow access to the wet frames. Idea is to make the bees think the honey is not in the hive. Inner covers are real easy to make. Knock out 20 in an afternoon, no problem.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
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    Sep 2008
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    You could try putting an excluder on top of the brood box, the empty box, and then the wet supers with the mat on top. You will be able to see what the bees will do within a days time, either they are consolidating the honey back in the wet supers or they begin moving it below. If the empty box is a deep super I think they will take the honey down to the brood, especially if they have empty cells below.

    I have no problem in my area with AFB, so I can use the method JW suggested, putting the wet supers outside for all colonies to clean. The only problem I have had with that method is the bees often will chew the comb down to the midrib of the comb in their haste to get the leftover honey. I have a yard away from other bee yards where I keep 4 to 6 colonies and I can take the supers there to be cleaned. I space the wet supers in small stacks 8 to 10 feet apart to reduce fighting. I can put them out 2 or 3 hours before dark and they are clean by the next morning when I pick them up and bring them home.

    If there was any disease or yards of strange bees close I would not open clean my wet supers.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  10. #9
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    Aug 2015
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    Adelaide, Australia
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    I don't have diseases here to be concerned with open feeding, but then the bees just don't seem to respond to open frames. I guess the honey flows are too strong for them to have much interest.

  11. #10
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    Jul 2013
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    Louisville, KY
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Yes, warm honey is the best type of honey to extract.... most important factor thats usually overlooked.... other than moisture. You don't have to use a heated knife, 80-90F frames decap easily with a sharp chefs knife.

    I put extracted frames out to be robbed or back onto hives to be filled again. Once flow is over I stack them in garage or basement with para-moth. Then let air out overwinter once temps are freezing. Wet frames can easily be infested with SHB and ants. Mice also a concern.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    How do you guys clean your extractor? Best I can think of is pouring boiling water from my kettle, but that'd be quite slow because my kettle only holds a litre of water.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    After the honey is all drained out, set it outside and let the bees clean it. Then wipe it down with a damp towel and you're all set. I actually rinse with a water hose afer the bees have removed the honey residue because it is a borrowed unit and needs to be really clean for the next person.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  14. #13
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    Apr 2011
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    Greenbrae, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Yes let the bees clean all your extracting gear, but make sure there aren't any puddles of honey or you'll lose a ton of them as they land in it and drown. To clean, a little water and some easy wiping will take care of anything that's left.

    I extract directly into 5 gallon buckets without any straining as the sieves tend to get clogged up pretty fast. Over night all the wax bits will float to the surface and can easily be removed, then I filter the rest thru a paint strainer before bottling.

    A good trick to warm supers is to put a bunch in your car on a warm day. Or make a stack of them with a bare bulb in an empty super on the bottom and leave overnight. Warm supers are far easier to extract.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Isn't sharing honey like that bad for disease management? I believe such is recommended against by the Australian biosecurity department. Furthermore, I don't know why but here the bees are slow to rob, I've left out strainers sticky with honey in front of bee hives before and they've mostly ignored it. Seems like the flow is too strong here that they don't care to rob. Could be because I seem to have German Black Bees rather than Ligurians.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    I don't know the rules down in Oz, but feeding your honey to your bees is generally not a problem. Never feed store bought honey to the bees. Also, you don't want the honey source close to the hives. Set it at least a couple of hundred feet away. They will find it.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Why don't you want the honey source close to the hives?

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    It can induce robbing by outside bees. Bees learn where the honey/nectar sources are and when the flow stops, you don't want the outside bees to come knocking on your hives.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  19. #18
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    Jul 2013
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    Louisville, KY
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Quote Originally Posted by omnimirage View Post
    I've left out strainers sticky with honey in front of bee hives before and they've mostly ignored it. Seems like the flow is too strong here that they don't care to rob.
    During a strong flow they won't rob honey at a frenzied pace. Its the best time to extract. Typically folks will wait until dearth sets in the harvest at one time. I usually do 2 harvests. 1 early harvest and 1 "normal" harvest. The big strong hives in spring can put on a good early crop and then refill those supers again before summer is over.

    I leave the extractor covered until im totally finished extracting. Before putting up for the season I rinse out with a hose. Depending on temp/humidity, the honey can dry a bit making clean up more difficult. Covering the top of the extractor keeps junk out and helps prevent drying.

  20. #19
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    Sep 2014
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    frederick, md
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Last year we started extracting in May. As the bees filled and capped a frame we would remove extract and replace. The quickly filled it again. We got a record harvest, for us, 1285 lbs from seven hives.

    I just set up the extractor and left it set up from late April to July.
    Zone 6b: 27 hives in Maryland, Carniolan, Italian mix mutts: Still learning - started bees spring of 2014.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Bonn, Germany
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    Default Re: Honey spinning method

    Quote Originally Posted by omnimirage View Post
    How do you guys clean your extractor? ..... .
    Use a hand-operated pressurised sprayer with a brass lance plus cold water with the sodium bicarbonate as a cleaning agent.

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