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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have any knowledge of melting out frames they could share? I'm thinking of building a melter that will collect honey and wax after an overnight melt, using the bottom of a small ibc as the catch tray/drain. The main issue is the type of heater. I guess I could just put a small fan convector in the bottom, but it seems dodgy - a bit of a fire hazard. I was thinking of embedding a small electric cooker ring in a concrete slab, controlled by thermostat and relay. Or maybe I could buy some suitable bar elements.

Best might be a square tank of water and immersion heater underneath - but getting hold of a tank seems unlikely.

Does anyone know of a manufacturer of small units of this sort - mayby 24 frame capacity?

Mike (UK)
 

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In order to give a good answer I want to know, what you want to do with that honey (and wax). Do you want to consume it? The melting of whole combs is a practice that became outdated an aeon ago. It is not recommendable if you want to use it for human consumption, because heating honey to the point that wax melts, will increase the Hydroxymethylfurfural content (HMF, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroxymethylfurfural) which is considered toxic to both humans and bees. It also decreases the storage life of honey.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
In order to give a good answer I want to know, what you want to do with that honey (and wax). Do you want to consume it? The melting of whole combs is a practice that became outdated an aeon ago. It is not recommendable if you want to use it for human consumption, because heating honey to the point that wax melts, will increase the Hydroxymethylfurfural content (HMF, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroxymethylfurfural) which is considered toxic to both humans and bees. It also decreases the storage life of honey.
Interesting. Nothing comes up on a beesource search for hmf. BBKA says that temperatures above 49deg may cause a rise. Does anyone else have any thoughts about this?

Mike (MK)
 

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My tech recently bought several jars of "caramelized blackberry honey". No warning on the label that it was toxic. I assume it was heated honey.

I heated some cappings just to the melting point. Let it cool and the family tried the residual honey. Very dark and tasted great. Some preferred its flavour to honey right out of the extractor.

All caramel we eat is heated sugar. Are you certain warmed honey is a toxic product?
 

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Honey is not the same as sugar. One difference are the acids which are needed to produce HMF. Heating sugar alone doesn't produce HMF. Read the wiki article, it basicly says it all.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Honey is not the same as sugar. One difference are the acids which are needed to produce HMF. Heating sugar alone doesn't produce HMF. Read the wiki article, it basicly says it all.
It doesn't tell me whether this aspect represents a problem for me, or whether careful use will be ok, or how to test whether it is ok. Those are the things I need to know.

My local commercial/gear suppliers uses his all the time. Its a very low temperature thing - he says it sometimes takes a few days to clear old comb. Its a commercially produced machine which is obviously made for this purpose. They can turn up the tempeature to clear just old comb quickly.

I'm wondering if I can arrange for the melt to flow to a cooler place straight away.

The reason for wanting to this is to maximise returns on labour. Spinning with my limited gear just takes too long, and leaves too much behind. I have a good market for honey, and I'm mostly using starter strips so refitting frames doesn't take long. A better spinner might make all the difference, and getting it off the hives quicker would also help. But with 70 colonies and growing I've been too busy staying ahead of them to stop and take anything off. Its about learning how best to handle things at that sort of scale. Sticking maybe 20 or 30 or more frames in a melter and leaving them for a day or two all throught the winter might be a useful approach - if the penalty on quality isn't too high. Since I can make things like that quickly and cheaply its a possibility. Otherwise I might look at making a press.

Mike (UK)
 

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Are you talking about melting everything out of the frame (wax and all)? Wax melts around 145F do you really want to heat your honey that high? I honestly believe that you need to rethink this concept.

70 colonies, let's say 2 supers per colony, 10-frame equipment, you have 1400 frames of honey to deal with at least once per season. I can't believe that you're considering melting all of this and refitting with starter strips. No wonder you're looking for labor saving tips.

Buy a decent 20 frame extractor. Run your honey supers on foundation and extract. The time and effort you're currently dedicating to foundationless will free up all sorts of time, which a portion can be dedicated to extraction. In the end, you'll be way ahead (on many fronts).
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Are you talking about melting everything out of the frame (wax and all)? Wax melts around 145F do you really want to heat your honey that high? I honestly believe that you need to rethink this concept.
I don't doubt you are right, although as I'm going for the cut comb market that'll make some difference. But I don't have a budget this year for a better machine, and I only have 30 or 40 supers to deal with (most of my colonies are this year's nucs and swarms, and have been making wax - as well as comb for cutting). I also have a touch of rape in most them to deal with... so its a solution to a here and now problem, and something I'm looking into as perhaps part of a future operation. Bear in mind I can probably knock up something for under £100 and half a day's work...

Mike (UK)
 

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Better buy or build a huge press. Much better taste and product. Heating spoils the honey.

Gee, at a rate of twenty frames per two days...also think of the energy that is needed to heat for two full days!

If you are scaling up, get your gear ready beforehand. Don't believe customers come back if they were disappointed by your products.
 

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30-40 supers? You won't do 600-800 kg through a small press or melting device.

If you can't afford an extractor, borrow one or pay another beek for a day in his honey house. Rent an extractor. Ask your neighbour.

Hope you got your winterfeed for 70 colonies ready. That is about 1,500 litres of syrup. You need to feed soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Hope you got your winterfeed for 70 colonies ready. That is about 1,500 litres of syrup. You need to feed soon.
I'm leaving quite a bit on, they have the end of the chestnut, clover, wild marjoram, ongoing bramble, willowherb, dandelion, thistle and ragwort, other odds, later ivy. Unless the weather is terrible I don't plan to feed much. Those that don't manage their stores well will be out.

But thanks for the caution.

Mike (UK)
 

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Yes, caution. 70 hives cost you 7,000 € per year. (100 € per hive per year: annual costs). It's simply as that. Scaling up, with no financial planning, is a recipe for disaster. No decent feeding, nothing. All natural starving bees. Customers get low quality honey. No, Mike, I really expected more from you.
 

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It seems to me from what I've read so far that careful heat separation doesn't result in 'scorched' honey.

I'm going to make a 5 gallon bain marie tomorrow to experiment with a lot of wild and old comb and crstalized honey. That'll double as a warmer prior to spinning.

Mike (UK)
 

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I am new to this bee stuff, but.........

Could you just crush and strain like usual, then melt the wax at 145F degrees and collect the additional honey and sell it as pasteurized honey?

Seems this would allow you to salvage the extra, and sell it as what it is, and the customer is informed and has a choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Could you just crush and strain like usual, then melt the wax at 145F degrees and collect the additional honey and sell it as pasteurized honey?

Seems this would allow you to salvage the extra, and sell it as what it is, and the customer is informed and has a choice.
At this moment my understanding is that melters are run at 40 degrees C. and pasteurisation begins to occur at about 65 degrees C.

Slow low-temperature melters are widely used in commercial honey processing without any apparent ill effects, nor any need to label the honey differently. But it is the case that slow and low is the way to go. Higher than 40 degrees C is a different ball game. That's the picture as I currently understand it.

Mike (UK)
 
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