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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not commercial, but am running about 60 colonies now and hope to get to about 100 within a year. Currently I do all the honey processing myself, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I'd like to bring some level of automation to the uncapping problem, which as of now is the tall pole within the process. It seems that the Maxant chain uncapper might be a potential solution to this bottleneck. I'd like to hear from others the pros and cons of automation in uncapping and any particular comments about Maxant's chain uncapper.

My understanding of the chain uncapper is that it will put a lot of small wax particles into the honey, which will pose issues with screening the honey. I guess most people using such a process use a settling tank to allow the wax to float off and get processed separately. I have a 40 gallon jacketed tank that I think I could use as a settling tank. I realize that 40 gallons will then become the bottleneck, but as a one man operation, I'd be happy with 40 gallons per day.

I welcome any comments.
 

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An uncapper is nice, but does not generate revenue, just saves you time. I would buy a GOOD electric knife, insurance on your other hand, and save the money to get a better uncapper. Do it right the first time.

Crazy Roland
 

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A chain uncapper, fed into a cappings spinner, drained into a heated, water jacketed, settling tank (sump) works rather well, although the cappings tend to become drenched in honey all too soon. I have all Maxant, but have never incorporated my chain uncapper (a mentor did).

'Hot knife gets really old with 60-75 hives and 2-300 supers. Cappings get drenched, all the same.

Nice concept, though...If I were building UP, I might dust the uncapper off...;)
 

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Learn how to use an uncapping plane will be a heck of a lot cheaper and just about as fast as a chain uncapper. Maxant sells them and it's what I use.

In 1992 we had 110+ hives and I extracted 28,000+ pounds using a uncapping plane and a ten frame radial.
 

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I'm not commercial, but am running about 60 colonies now and hope to get to about 100 within a year.
I welcome any comments.
I grew up working in our families 5,000 hive operation in an extracting room manned by 3 good people, 2 of them with a Master uncapping knife in hand and the third running 2 or 3 50 frame radial extractors. Cappings were uncapped directly into a modified extractor with a bottom in it and perforated holes around the outside of the reel. We typically extracted about 2 drums (1,300 lbs.) per hour if the boxes were full. Hard work? Yes, but imminently doable. Handling a hot uncapping knife is a bit of a lost art form. Quiet, neat, no broken frames, no missed cappings, no worries about brood getting uncapped, no adjustments or machinery to break down and ahh the aroma.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the valuable feedback.

So, can I correctly interpreted the feedback as a vote of lack of confidence in the Maxant chain uncapper? The videos that I've seen make a good impression, and its priced well below the silver queen unit. The silver queen unit seems like a great machine but, well above my price range. If my interpretation is correct, then would someone care to provide specific feedback on why the Maxant is not recommended?
 

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I really wish you folks could have seen a well run hand uncapping honey house in action. I haven't found anything more than a few lame videos demonstrating hand uncapping to the tune of well over a minute per frame when a skilled person with properly heated knife can actually do a frame in about 20 seconds INCLUDING the top and bottom bar, something no uncapping machine is capable of doing.
Yes, we eventually made the switchover to an uncapping machine. Primarily because an unskilled worker can be quickly trained to do the job at 3 times the speed. Make no mistake about it, though. No machine can do the job as well or as neatly as it can be done by hand.
Sorry if I come off as an old curmudgeon espousing the old ways but as I said, I guess you just need to see and experience it in action to fully understand.
A silver queen? If that's your price range, then that's a horse of a different color. It will do around a box per minute and is a machine fully capable of doing the job for several thousand hives and is capable of extracting the honey from a hundred hives in about a day. If you are thinking of putting one in then bear in mind that it can uncap at least as fast as 2, 50 frame radials can extract. We ran 4, 50's behind ours for quite a few years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I really wish you folks could have seen a well run hand uncapping honey house in action. I haven't found anything more than a few lame videos demonstrating hand uncapping to the tune of well over a minute per frame when a skilled person with properly heated knife can actually do a frame in about 20 seconds INCLUDING the top and bottom bar, something no uncapping machine is capable of doing.
Yes, we eventually made the switchover to an uncapping machine. Primarily because an unskilled worker can be quickly trained to do the job at 3 times the speed. Make no mistake about it, though. No machine can do the job as well or as neatly as it can be done by hand.
Sorry if I come off as an old curmudgeon espousing the old ways but as I said, I guess you just need to see and experience it in action to fully understand.
A silver queen? If that's your price range, then that's a horse of a different color. It will do around a box per minute and is a machine fully capable of doing the job for several thousand hives and is capable of extracting the honey from a hundred hives in about a day. If you are thinking of putting one in then bear in mind that it can uncap at least as fast as 2, 50 frame radials can extract. We ran 4, 50's behind ours for quite a few years.
Jim,

I do really appreciate your input. Some of the constraints I'm facing is that I'm a one man operation. I do not plan to bring in extra help, so I'm looking for a solution with this constraint in mind. Regarding the silver queen, I realize that not only is it way beyond my current and projected needs, it is outside of my budget. If I could do 20 seconds per frame, that is something I would consider. However, everyone I've seen using a hot knife is no faster than I am with a good cold knife. In fact, I invited a 40 year veteran beekeeper to my facility to extract where we did side-by-side uncapping. He used his favorite hot knife and I used a cold knife. I was about 30% faster than he was, but still not fast enough for my liking.
 

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In fact, I invited a 40 year veteran beekeeper to my facility to extract where we did side-by-side uncapping. He used his favorite hot knife and I used a cold knife. I was about 30% faster than he was, but still not fast enough for my liking.
Not trying to in any way be rude but I am really having trouble with the visual picture of a 40 year veteran with a heated knife getting outpaced by someone wielding a cold knife. Hand uncapping was something of a legacy in our family with the standard always being that you were expected to do 150 to 200 medium boxes per day and we did it daily for weeks on end.
A Master uncapping knife has a touchy thermostat. They need to be turned high enough to do the job when in continuously use but NEVER left "dry" for long or they can be burned out. When properly adjusted it is quite literally like a hot knife through butter. A single swath through a medium frame should be no more than 3 to 4 seconds per side another 5 to 10 seconds on the top and bottom bars and the rest of the time is devoted to removing the frames, scraping the box and setting the uncapped frame on a holding rack or directly in the extractor. A fourth person in the extracting room could speed things quite a bit by relieving the uncapper a from the work of scraping boxes and carting in more stacks of honey. Deeps take a bit longer though it is quite possible to cut them in a single swath as well. As I said, I guess you just need to see it in action to fully understand. The fact that you are working alone makes it somewhat of a moot point, though, as a hot knife should never be left unattended for more than a minute or so, which means constantly unplugging and reheating which isn't a good option.
Sorry, I disrupted your thread, I'll let it die. Best of luck.
 

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I know a guy running 600 hives who hired a few students and gave them scratching forks... work well as long as he had the students to work
 

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What about Kelly's electric vibrating knife. Would that work for you? Maybe someone on here has some experience with one.
 
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