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With numerous threads about heat gun uncapping starting to pop up, it's that time of year, folks seem to be extracting honey and looking for easier ways to uncap.

We tried something yesterday for the first time. I bought the uncapping punch from Mann Lake over the winter, it's like a little paint roller with spikes, at the same time we bought our new 9/18 extractor. We tried it out for the first time yesterday, and all I can say is WOW, does that make a messy / difficult task simple. First load, 18 medium frames, we had them uncapped and loaded into the extractor in under 10 minutes. We aren't set up with a rack to hold a load of uncapped frames yet, so we waited till the first load was spun out, then started the second load. From stopped to spinning again, was around 5 minutes, included unloading the first batch, uncapping and loading the second batch.

The only gotcha we ran into, a couple frames in the second load didn't extract fully, and after looking things over, we realized why. The roller needs to be cleaned of wax bits once in a while, or it wont press down far enough anymore. That only takes a few seconds with a fork to clean it up. Now we plan to clean the roller a bit between each load. Our workflow will be to first uncap 18 frames and get them onto a rack over a drip tray, then clean the roller, then wait for the prior load to finish spinning.

We've been contemplating various options for uncapping, and dealing with cappings over the last year, and until yesterday, we were totally unconvinced on what was the right route to take. Now we are convinced. We will build a little jig that holds one frame to hit with the spiked roller for uncapping, then a rack that'll hold a load for the extractor with a drip tray underneath. For dealing with cappings, we wont do anything, because there wont be any cappings to deal with.

The only caveat to all of this, our frames were all warm when we extracted, fresh off the hives on a 30C day, so it was (by our standards) hot out. But that applies to all methods of extracting, the honey flows much better when it's warm.

For folks struggling with uncapping, and contemplating expensive options, I would highly reccomend you try this gadget before spending the big bucks on a bigger / spendier gadget. We did, and I'm really glad we did. It worked a treat for us, and with a small amount of setup in place, it'll make extracting an easy one person job, uncap the next load while a load is spinning, and plenty of time to stop for a coffee after uncapping, before the next load is done spinning.

I've bought a lot of little gadgets over the years, with hopes they would make various tasks with beekeeping easier and/or more efficient. Most have been dismal failures, but, this one is a gem. We can uncap much faster than we can extract, and, as an added bonus, no buckets of cappings left to deal with when we are done extracting. Just empty combs, with little / no damage, ready to go back on the hives.

We are in the process of scaling up from a small handful of colonies, to 50+ over the next year or so. Our experience yesterday has completely changed our thoughts on how we will deal with uncapping come extraction time.
 

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That's great!! :applause: I may have to look into getting one of those. I'm a first year keeper and not sure what to do with the small amount of cappings I may get. This may be the answer. Any photos of your experience?
 

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How deeply did it damage the cell walls. I bought one from Mann Lake but did not use it on the first extraction. Does the wheel get into the corners well enough or does it take some work with the scratcher?

Thanks for posting.
 

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Well that makes the purchase i'm getting ready to make a lot easier. I've been wanting to try one for a while and now I have perfect reason to do so.. Thanks for your story of how easy they work!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
How deeply did it damage the cell walls. I bought one from Mann Lake but did not use it on the first extraction. Does the wheel get into the corners well enough or does it take some work with the scratcher?
We never used the scratcher on any of the frames, and saw no signficant comb damage after they came out of the extractor. It was a wide variety of frames, from honey frames that have been fully drawn for a few years, to a few that were only half drawn in the center of the frame, from this year.

FWIW, all of the frames we extracted were Mann Lake PF series plastic frames. We dont use wood / foundation. Thinking about it more, that may make a difference, because the plastic foundation can easily stand up to significant pressure on the roller. I dunno, dont have any wax foundation frames to compare.
 

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>The roller needs to be cleaned of wax bits once in a while, or it wont press down far enough anymore.

That was one of my problems. My second problem was that I bought a 5" wide one thinking I could uncap in one swipe, not realizing that it requires more pressure to do 5" than less. If I were trying them again (I had the Hackler Honey Punch which is the original) I would buy a narrow one and make more swipes so I don't have to put as much pressure on my wrist and elbow.
 

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We used the Mann Lake one yesterday for the first time, very effective and quick. Seems to work better going from side to side rather then the length of the frame to get the edges and also to keep from digging in too deep. Cells were not any more damaged than from anything else we have used. Like anything else, after a while manually uncapping takes a toll on the wrist.
 

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Will give the punch a try in a couple of weeks. I bought a hot knife last year but I find it heavy and too bulky in the handle. Not all that fast either as I still have to grab the scratcher to get the low spots. If you have it cranked to get some speed it smokes and scorches then if you put it down for a moment or two without dialing back the setting.
 

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Do you know how this compares with the Hackler Honey punch? The Hackler unit has almost pyramidal spikes, which do seem to clog pretty easy. It is very hard to tell by looking at the Mann Lake catalog what is the shape of the spikes on their unit.
 

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The spikes are 3/8" long. About 1/16" or a bit bigger at the base and taper to a fairly sharp point. The tips are about 5/16" apart on the circle and spaced about 3/16" across the length of the roller.
 

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0712140853-00.jpg 0713141414-00.jpg 0711141829-01.jpg Ijust used this handy little gadget, did not like the hot knife.
Here are pics of the wax cappings I got after 30 frames. The bees are my clean up crew.
The goop in the large pan was from the strainer after extracting. Not really a whole lot, but will make a few dozen lip balms.
I am happy with the roller and my 8 gallons of honey from my one hive!
 

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I have all natural foundationless frames . This does a poor job on new wax I had ta clean it every 2or 3 frames and if ya roll it the wrong way the nut comes unscrewed. A Kitchen fork works better. Mine is for sale $10.00 you pay shipping.
 

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We never used the scratcher on any of the frames, and saw no signficant comb damage after they came out of the extractor. It was a wide variety of frames, from honey frames that have been fully drawn for a few years, to a few that were only half drawn in the center of the frame, from this year.

FWIW, all of the frames we extracted were Mann Lake PF series plastic frames. We dont use wood / foundation. Thinking about it more, that may make a difference, because the plastic foundation can easily stand up to significant pressure on the roller. I dunno, dont have any wax foundation frames to compare.
Are there no cappings at all with this?
Someone reviewed it last year and didn't have as good a result as you. They had real problems with it clogging.
After your experience I may give it a try:)
 

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Are there no cappings at all with this?
Someone reviewed it last year and didn't have as good a result as you. They had real problems with it clogging.
After your experience I may give it a try:)
FWIW, all of the frames we extracted were Mann Lake PF series plastic frames. We dont use wood / foundation. This may bee the reason it worked well clogges up real bad with foundation les combs
 

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I borrowed this from a friend, but I am buying one next year. Probably can get one from any supply house: Dadant, BrushyMountain, etc.
Some complain it clogs up, but only if you press and roll too hard. When it gets a bit thick you just run the scratching fork down through a few rows. I really didn't
have a problem.

NewBeeLady,

What is the brand name, source, and width of the punch roller pictured in your post # 11 ?

Thanks,
Steve
 
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