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Discussion Starter #1
This is my fourth beekeeping season and been using only two Flow hives. My experience with them has been rough and am seriously considering selling them and use a traditional extraction method.

I’m only allowed to keep two hives here, and storage space for an extractor is limited, with no garage and a full small shed. That’s why a Flow hive seemed ideal at the time.

So I’ve been looking into the viability of a honey press. It has got the advantage of being multi purpose pressing other produce. I can also see the advantage of being able to harvest wax, which I can’t do with my Flow hives.

My question is, are honey presses a viable long term extractor for just two hives? Or are they a romantic blast from the past that I quickly start hating after a season pressing? I can see them being a great family activity with my young kids, but want to make sure I keep on enjoy using the honey press.

Chances are I won’t be extracting more than 6 or 8 deep frames at a time. Will a 10L one let me press them all at once? Some come with just one perforated bucket on a large spouted saucer, others have an external bucket. Is one preferable over the other for honey?

Not many videos on YouTube, so obviously they’re not that popular (maybe for a good reason?)

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I like the red one but it is only 5.7L and spout looks too narrow for honey.
 

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Unless you are planning on doing crush and strain. Witch make a lot of work for the bees. Meaning less honey. My gut tells me that most of that type of thing would be to small. Unless it was big enough to do wine.
 

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Have a look at my thread on honey filtering using Mann Lake HH380 filter bag. It works for extracted honey and I also use it to get the honey out of my cappings which would be very similar to crush and strain. A day of dripping gets most and a bit of squeezing gets more.

https://www.beesource.com/forums/sh...-Filtering!&highlight=easiest+honey+filtering

Six or eight deep frames should be just a nice batch for one of these filters. Easy to store.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I like the simplicity of that filter bag. What I want to avoid with a honey press is the day of dripping waiting for all the honey to drip out. It still is a very rudimentary apparatus (unlike my Flow Hives where many things can go wrong)

On further research the biggest one of those presses should be able to take 6-8 frames. It has large holes in the inside bucket and after pressing I think it should be all good in an hour. Very easy to clean too - just hose it off on the lawn, after you let the bees take most of the left over.

I am also aware of the fact that like crush and strain, there are no stickies to return, so the bees have to start from scratch. I'm not really counting kilos of honey, this is just a hobby but I'm still not 100% sure that will make much difference anyway.

My experience is limited, and I generally just use full sheets of foundation, but I did start off with foundationless/starter-strips. I cannot really say with certainty that bees take much longer when they have to build comb too. It did appear to me that once the colony is strong and there is a nectar flow, they will build comb like there is no tomorrow. They actually amaze me with the speed they build it when they need it. The main advantage I see with foundation is the straight comb they build.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I thought it would be a lot faster pressing than crushing and straining.

I haven’t done either, that’s why I’m asking.
 

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I have done both (sort of).
Mincing and draining vs. mashing and draining (using a potato masher).

So, mincing and draining is faster and easier overall AND leaves drier residue also.

Reason - the while mashing produces faster results initially but - the mashing also plugs up the utensils and captures a lot of honey in the residue.
And so you end up doing and redoing and redoing this again to dry the residue better.

Mincing (i.e. fine chopping) of the combs and NO pressing them - drains the combs really well with minimal effort (in warm conditions).

Now, these are cheap, kitchen projects done regular utensils.
The press should apply lots of force to dry the residue on the very first pass - so that should work well.
I thought of buying a press and every time turned the idea down - not worth it for me (even if I factored in fruit/berry pressing).
Just too expensive for a limited use device.
A press is just a little bit better than the honey extractor since it has a multi-use property.
The honey extractor is a single-use and expensive device for a small-scale beekeeper; hobby beekeepers don't really need that money-waste no matter what they are told (unless they are awash in disposable cash).
 

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What's the advantage of pressing over crush-and-strain ? Less sticky paws I guess, but that is offset by the press's price-tag - and the need to find somewhere to store it when it's not being used.
LJ
If I did not care about cash, I'd get one.
But I do care for cash!

These expensive gizmos would turn my honey and fruit/berry products into "golden" by price.
At that rate why even bother?
I do these things to keep my own produce cheap while making it of the highest quality.
If my own produce turns into gold due to the expenses, I'd rather just buy the produce and waste my precious time elsewhere.

With only two hives allowed, Honeyeater, you seem to be looking for ways to just spend your cash for the convenience - how I see it.
Just get the high quality press and don't worry - it will work.
Sounds like the cost is a non-issue for you.
:)

This is my favorite site for the presses - since I grow apples
https://pleasanthillgrain.com/fruit-presses/fruit-presses
 

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Dunno how relevant this is but Greg posted a while back about a small-scale DIY extractor - I don't know what the outcome of the thread was, or how relevant it might be - but just thought I'd mention it.

The other possible lead also comes from Greg - he posted some time back about methods of extracting wax.
There was one video link in particular which was nothing short of brilliant - a Russian/Ukranian guy boiled-up a load of old wax combs and then placed them into a fruit-press type of bag. This he 'sealed' by twisting it's opening, then placed it on his home-made press. It's this press which is the important bit of the story.

It was made of heavy wood and looked not unlike the stand which shoe-shine boys use. At one end a heavy plank was hinged to this 'stand'. Now comes the good bit. He places the bag of steaming wax combs on top of this 'stand', and brings the hinged plank down on top of it. Then - none of your hydraulic rams or screw methods of exerting pressure on the bag - he just simply stands on top of it ! The hot wax comes running out of the bag and exits the press via a channel. I can see no earthly reason why the same principle could not be used to press honey from combs which have been cut from their frames.
'best
LJ
 

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....
Dunno how relevant this is but Greg posted a while back about a small-scale DIY extractor....
LJ
I made one for about $20 last year (the food-grade buckets I got for free).
Thinking of some "improvements" to it to reduce the honey/air mixing, but unsure I will even use it this year - not enough honey to even bother with the cleanup.
Will just C&S small batches in the kitchen, as I need them (I prefer keeping the honey directly in the combs just until I need 2-3 jars of honey for consumption - the best way to store).
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....
The other possible lead also comes from Greg - he posted some time back about methods of extracting wax....
LJ
Good reminder, LJ.
I forgot all about it.
Here it is.
Few boards and some hardware - all it takes.
The thing is crazy efficient.
Of course, the hygiene for the honey production should be kitchen-grade (not the workshop-grade as for the slum-gum pressing).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76dZaRco3tc&t=272s
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks guys, very good points, I enjoy reading your posts.

I've actually already saw Greg's DIY solutions a while back. Greg said that cost appears to not be an issue for me.

Well there is cost and there is value. Actually I am very cost conscious... but then, I own two Flow Hives which instantly contradicts my statement. If they worked as advertised for me I would have moved on and not worry about alternatives, but apparently their quality of manufacture and function varies and some work well, while others don't. Mine don't.

A good basic honey press costs around $150US and is multipurpose unlike an extractor. Yes I can get the same done with crush and strain for a few dollars and utensils from my kitchen. But then I'm at a stage in my life where time is limited, and there comes in the value of something that makes life a bit easier, and less messy.

It is spring here and I am behind schedule planting my summer crop (time/work/family)..... Some of the veggies I grow are cheaper to buy from supermarkets but I see more value in the ones I grow without pesticides in my own compost. There is more to cost and value than just a number.
 

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I think you are not placing enough value on drawn comb in weighing your decision. A small extractor will pay for itself in increased honey production even with only a few hives. It's also a lot easier on your bees not to always harvest their wax whenever you harvest honey. Less stress on the bees has lots of advantages beyond honey production to figure in as well. Buying an extractor was one of the smarter moves I have made with my bees.
 

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So far I’m crush and strain, by scraping combs into a strainer on top of a 5 gallon bucket. It has to sit at least over night to drain, then I stir and drain again. Then I go get some more combs and repeat.

The important thing here is ants and bees. I could never hang a bag to drain. I would have ant honey with inclusions of bees. My strainer/bucket combo can be sealed with the lid and then placed on a pan of water.
This process suits my available time that time of year-intermittent and short. If I had to use an extractor I’d have to have more time all at once and be able to clean things up perfectly immediately. And then find a way to store it.
An extractor would give me more honey, I’m sure, but not fit in to my lifestyle.

A bucket and a strainer work for me. Your experience may differ.

Yours, Megan
 

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Hi Honeyeater we are also selling our two Flow hives because of troubles we’re having with them. Mine’s got a gap at the back on top of frames letting bees out while harvesting and dad’s got two damaged Flow frames with bees getting trapped in the bottom channel. We’re aiming at four standard hives and a friend is lending us an extractor but we’ll buy our own small motorised one second hand.

Have you considered a second hand extractor? The small ones are quite compact for storage.
 

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So far I’m crush and strain, by scraping combs into a strainer on top of a 5 gallon bucket. It has to sit at least over night to drain, then I stir and drain again. Then I go get some more combs and repeat.
Hi Megan

I've only done crush and strain a couple of times, but when I did I took the word "crush" very literally - so I cut out the combs and crushed them with my bare hands. Now I realised beforehand that this had the potential of being a messy business, so I worked entirely within the bath, and kept a bowl of warm water in there within which I rinsed my hands from time to time. Whenever I needed to touch something outside of the bath area, I'd rinse in the bowl first, then wash my hands well under a running tap (faucet ?). A 'working' towel was always to hand.

The crushed-up comb was placed in a deep coarse strainer fixed over a food-grade plastic container - all within the bath - and allowed to drain for a short while. The wax residue was then separated (teased apart) and rinsed-out in another container containing warm water, strained and pressed by hand, and the hand-washing water added to it. This water was then used to make 2:1 sugar syrup.

A quick hose-down of the bath interior with a shower-head then removed all traces of the activity. All-in-all a fairly painless process, with no resulting mess. For those with a young inquisitive family, you might want to delay starting until after bedtime. :)

LJ
 

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.........But then I'm at a stage in my life where time is limited, and there comes in the value of something that makes life a bit easier, and less messy. .
I have been in this stage for decades and since just recently I finallyl afford to spend some time chasing the bees.
That being said - small batch C&S is the most time efficient way to harvest my honey.
Last year I spent most of one weekend conventionally extracting in the kitchen - and hated it.
Like I said, if I need some honey, I pull a frame from storage and C&S what I need - now this IS the most time efficient way as for me.
Little bit at a time; no special setups; no special cleanups - just another kitchen "cooking" project directly on the counter.
This presumes honey frames storage of course; in my case, I simply keep the honey where it belong - directly in the hives (cold winter certainly helps, our local benefit).
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.....Greg said that cost appears to not be an issue for me....

...... but then, I own two Flow Hives which instantly contradicts my statement..
Exactly.
If you own Flow Hives, well, then.... :)
Every time someone is looking for some costly time savings, I only smile.
There is always a catch - no magic exists.
 

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I think you are not placing enough value on drawn comb in weighing your decision. A small extractor will pay for itself in increased honey production even with only a few hives. It's also a lot easier on your bees not to always harvest their wax whenever you harvest honey. Less stress on the bees has lots of advantages beyond honey production to figure in as well. Buying an extractor was one of the smarter moves I have made with my bees.
Extractor in no way will increase honey production. Where is logic in this?
Extractor facilitates the efficient extraction of honey already produced by the bees, NOT honey production.
Bees produce the honey, not extractors.

In short - follow the commercial ways AS IF you are a commercial producer and be happy.
It is fine approach and works for many.

I personally prefer going against the grain and get what I need my way (with near zero investment).
I see not much value in the pseudo-commercial approaches for what I need from beekeeping project.
The idea of value in drawn comb is one such commercial dogma, for example (it is predicated on mandatory separation of the brood from the honey).
 

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FWIW - this is the kit I've used in the past to Crush & Strain - nothing more than a short length of 6-inch plastic drainage pipe (never used, I hasten to add) with an old spaghetti strainer epoxied in place near one end:





The strainer sits atop a honey bucket, with the whole lot inside what you guys call a 'tote', which catches any serious drips and saves them from being flushed down the tubes. :)

Crude maybe, but cost nowt (nothing) to make. It certainly ain't food-grade, but then I don't sell honey. If I did, then I'd make the same kind of thing from s/s.
LJ
 
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