Introduction: Extracting Honey From a Hive

Honey is an amazing product of nature. When kept sealed in the combs or a jar, it will never spoil. It even has medicinal and antibacterial properties.

Over time all honey naturally crystallizes. It’s still edible and delicious, just in a different form. You can even return it to liquid by heating it. However, if you cook the honey, you may kill the live enzymes and nutrients. I like to take a jar and put it in a bowl of warm water (almost boiling, but not). I leave it in there for a few minutes and even stir the honey, returning it to a liquid state.

This instructable covers how to extract honey from frames that have a plastic foundation.

Step 1: Uncapping Combs

To start, we uncapped the honey on all of the frames. To do this we used a heated knife and careful sliced away at the wax cappings to reveal our golden honey.

This was the first time I had extracted honey. The extraction process requires some serious equipment if you want to do it right. We were lucky enough to have a connection with a more mass-produced local honey operation who they let us use their equipment. The extractor alone runs anywhere from $2000-4000. Yikes! Then there was the uncapping tub which goes for another couple grand. As small operation beekeepers, we were more than happy to have access to professional equipment.

Step 2: Reveal Golden Deliciousness

This is what it looks like when all caps are removed.

Step 3: Centrifuge

Once you have enough frames uncapped to fill the extractor, insert them into the extractor. This is a 12 frame extractor. This machine uses centrifugal force to spit out all of the honey from the frames onto the walls of this giant stainless steel tank. At the bottom sits a tap where the extracted honey would dispense.

From here the honey drained through a mesh filter removing any wax, bee parts, or other particles that shouldn’t be there. For me I had about 0.75 gallons of honey and it had mostly gone through the filter in about an hour or two. Some will take longer.

Step 4: Jarring

For this harvest, I only filled 4oz jars as I was not extracting very much honey. I bought these 4oz Mason jars at the hardware store, sent them through the dishwasher on the hottest setting, and began filling. Unlike canning and jarring other foods, due to honey's natural antibacterial properties, mold or bacteria won't set in. You also do not want to heat or pasteurize your honey as it will kill nutrients and enzymes. The honey will no longer be considered raw. Raw is the best!

Step 5: Labeling/Branding

As with anything I do, I love to nerd out on the branding and create a beautiful finished product. I mean, the bees already put in their effort, I might was do the best I can to help present it well.

Comments

author
sixsmith (author)2014-09-15

For a couple of pulling seasons I worked for a fellow that ran a fairly large scale "hobby" honey business back in Mississippi. He had built his own motorized decapping machine and had a really nice horizontal centrifuge extractor, he collected the honey in a sump and pumped it through some pantyhose as the filter.

He processed something like 500 or so gallons of honey per season (Spring and Fall)
I always thought the pantyhose was a great idea.

author
SJU87 (author)2014-06-24

Nice to see the process. Probably a good idea to go this route at least the first year as a beekeeper. I am in my first year and would like to see it done before I attempt it myself. Many beekeeping clubs have their own extractor(s) that you can use for free or at low cost. For those that would like to make their own, their are instructables (here's one https://www.instructables.com/id/Honey-Extractor/) and many other DIY examples many claiming well under $50 construction (some fairly, uh, interesting concepts) and you can buy extractors at Mann, Dadant, or Amazon for under $200.

author
le-Sid (author)2014-06-07

Very educative, I love it!

author
Tecwyn Twmffat (author)2014-05-30

Nice!

author
mpwilson (author)2014-05-29

Nice! Gotta be able to make a honey extractor for an awful lot less than that.

author
Jobar007 (author)2014-05-29

I've used a hand crank outside in late August in Missouri and it was hot and miserable. Using professional equipment in a climate controlled building is a dream in comparison. You were fortunate to be able to use good equipment because it can really make a difference.

author
Wolfbane221 (author)2014-05-29

I was lucky enough to find a four frame hand crank extractor in a garage sell a couple of years ago for a hundred bucks! I like your end product! :)

author
sevinstraus (author)2014-05-28

How long does an extractor cycle take to run, once the frames are loaded?

author
thehivelife (author)sevinstraus2014-05-28

This larger extractor actually took some time. Probably about 10-15 minutes to be thorough. I've used some small hand cranked extractors for 2 frames at a time, and that took only 2-3 minutes. I actually prefer hand cranked extractors.

author
craftclarity (author)2014-05-28

Such an important process to life on earth as a whole, and such an easy one. Thanks for sharing this!

author
thehivelife (author)craftclarity2014-05-28

Thanks for the comment!

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