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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We've pulled a single frame of "honey" (probably including a large fraction of sugar syrup) just to say we've done so. Looks like this year the bees get to keep the rest. We do have an extractor but I'm reluctant to make a mess of it and run it imbalanced.

We've cleaned off one side of a green drone frame of its honey-filled crazy-comb and extracted that by crush and strain, but we'd like to preserve the drawn comb on the one good medium frame we've pulled (drawing comb is our main goal for this startup year). So far I've sliced the caps off and inverted it in a plastic container to drain. At the present rate, we should have a jar of honey by about mid-September. I'm a little surprised it is this slow ... somebody was selling a frame stand for the kitchen table that is supposed to provide honey for your pancakes.

Right now it is in the back of an SUV catching a little sun to warm it up. We're getting about a drop per minute.

Any tips for coaxing it out a little more efficiently?
 

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Crush is really the only method I can think of using if you don't want to spin. Allowing it to drip out will take forever and even then you won't get most of the honey out; I assume you mean you'd have honey by mid-September 2015 because that's likely what it will take.

I've seen videos of people spinning a frame in a plastic container on a rope; not sure how well it works but it was fun to watch. Maybe an option; I don't know.
 

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Especially if you didn't freeze, be alert for wax moths and Small hive beetles which can make a mess while it is dripping. I think first honey is among the best!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This is the only way I can think of to do one frame at a time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0tbPhWWrFo
Cool! Since I already have the thing in that type of plastic container, maybe I should find an open spot in the lawn and let it rip!

What have I got to lose (unless I knock over some potted plants)? This particular frame of honey is probably mostly sugar syrup anyway. And I don't want to wait to September 2015, or forever.

Logistically, we could have loaded it in to the extractor with a counterweight, but we brought the frame home and uncapped it, so now that would be a 130 mile trip with an uncapped frame.
 

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I had an idea to put it into a large plastic bucket, leaning at an angle, then just swing it around 8 or 10 times. Turn frame over and repeat. Have not had a chance to try it. If you do let me know how it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My wife vetoed the "swing it around" approaches.

Five days in the back of an SUV in the sunshine drooled enough to fill a "honey bear". Today I looked at the comb and decided that the honey had come from just a few cells, and those were drained dry. The rest were just hanging there. So I took a blunt-ended round toothpick (you could cut a round toothpick in two) and used the blunt end to press into the cells. This expels some honey and lets air in if you do it right. It should start drainage. I started working the cell systematically, hoping to produce faster drainage.

I think this method may get most of the honey out of one frame by mid-August (2014). Labor required may only be, oh, say, about 5 hours. But the whole time I get to think about how much work the bees had to do to make it.

All this is to avoid crushing the comb. As somebody said on another thread recently, "Drawn comb is gold." And it would have to be for this to be worthwhile.

Still, it is working and will be satisfactory for this year's hugely unambitious one-frame harvest goal.
 

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My bees just drew & filled 9 frames of medium frames in 2 weeks. I think the difference was adding a high volume top feeder (they were going through a gallon of syrup in 2-3 days). I'm not so concerned about saving comb anymore as it seems they can draw it pretty fast if they want to.
 

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I took a blunt-ended round toothpick (you could cut a round toothpick in two) and used the blunt end to press into the cells. This expels some honey and lets air in if you do it right. It should start drainage. I started working the cell systematically, hoping to produce faster drainage.
In a few years, if you are still keeping bees, you will look back at this post and shake your head.
 

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>I took a blunt-ended round toothpick (you could cut a round toothpick in two) and used the blunt end to press into the cells.

I don't consider it practical, but if you are going to push something into each cell individually, use a 1/4" dowel with the end slightly rounded and you'll displace a lot more honey a lot faster...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Jackam, I'm shaking my head NOW.

The sad part of this is that, having said we didn't need one this year, my wife got wind of a deal on a small extractor. The thing is just sitting in the garage all shiny and underutilized. And I think the bees could have spared 2 frames instead of just one, or we could have counterweighed the load. Honestly, cleanup probably would have been no worse than what we'll end up with, and extraction would have been far more productive.
 

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Jackam, I'm shaking my head NOW.
Honestly, cleanup probably would have been no worse than what we'll end up with, and extraction would have been far more productive.
Not really. The first couple frames will turn into your 'slippage' from using the extractor. We used to extract using the club 2 frame very very old maxant. The honey doesn't really start to flow till you've put in the second load, the first load just wets the whole thing down with honey, and covers the bottom, but doesn't quite make it to the gate. Two frames is just enough to get the extractor into 'needs cleaning' state, but not enough to get any appreciable amount into that bucket under the honey gate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, then maybe this method is not too bad for a patient beginner just looking for a taste. The one frame, fully capped on one side and about 1/4 capped on the other, has so far produced about a pint of honey, and looks like it has more to give.

Michael's probably right about making a fatter toothpick, but that requires a slightly larger Round Tuit than I had at hand when I started messing with it. If you can get air into the top of the cell using a probe of some sort, the cell does drain pretty thoroughly overnight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Final result.

One normal-sized bear of honey, and two tiny ones. About 10-12 fluid ounces.

The frame was still pretty gooey and had a lot of honey in it when we stuck it back in the top super on Friday, replacing an empty. It was rather beat up looking but looked salvageable.

Two days later we pulled it out to check it. It was totally cleaned out and repaired, a perfect comb ready to go again. Just in time for Mountain Mint, which they have acres and acres of and are working like mad.

The bottom line is, the method works, but is an awful lot of effort for very little honey. It met our goal, which was a taste of honey, harvesting only one frame, and preserving the comb for a further harvest.

It is madly inefficient, but for a new beekeeper, maybe OK as a one-time experience.
 
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