hannah dee

Extracting honey

We’ve had bees for about two years, and this week, we got our first honey. Roger decided which frames were full enough to bother extracting from, and we kept these inside and out of the way of the hives (the bees don’t like you stealing their honey). We borrowed a centrifuge for extracting the honey from the Aberystwyth Beekeepers Association and then it was a case of cleaning up the utility room, washing some jars, and getting on with it. The advice was that honey would go everywhere, but we didn’t have that much honey and it wasn’t really that messy in the end.

The first task is to scrape of the caps of the cells, as the bees seal the honey in with waxy stuff. This is done with a sharp metal comb thing. It doesn’t matter if you get a bit of wax in the honey as you filter it through two sieves anyway, the important thing is to break all the seals.

Once you’ve broken the seals, you put the frames carefully in the centrifuge. This is done in pairs, and we tried to make the pairs reasonably well balanced in weight.

Then you spin the frames, and the honey splatters out against the walls of the drum.

At the start it comes out really really slowly, but it’s fantastic to see it emerge.

Here’s a video of the spinning in action – it’s a bit loud, and it’s hard work. The centrifuge is basically a machine for splattering honey up the sides of a big pot, so it’s not the most efficient of mechanisms.

After a while – about an hour, I think, of taking it in turns to crank the handle and weigh down the machine – we had quite a bit of honey. About 2.5 litres.

Here it is all jarred up.

And here’s the final product. Yum.

8 comments

  1. Looks cool :)

    Out of interest, I’ve bought (and enjoyed) honey in honeycomb before. Did you just not fancy that, or do you need to do something special to make the honeycomb edible/nice?

  2. Honey’s easier to store than honeycomb, and spreads better! We can also give the left over comb to the bees next year, and they’ll need to do much less construction work.

  3. Fab article Hannah! Out of interest – has anybody thought about putting a plastic lid on the centrifuge? That way you won’t get splattered!

    Look forward to trying the fruits of your labour some time – I’ve never really eaten honey!

  4. Centrifuges look like a rather hi-tech solution to the ‘get honey out of honey combs’ problem. I’m wondering what they use in Turkey (where there’s quite a lot of honey produced, especially in mountgainous areas where you can’t grow much else except sheep).

  5. @Bill the extractor lets you re-use the comb, or rather, lets you make the bees re-use the comb. This means that they can put their energies next year into making honey. Other extraction techniques seem to involve either crushing then straining the comb, or eating it.

  6. @Matthew the extractor came with a plastic lid clearly marked “This can fall into the extractor” so we decided to go with the splatter option:-)

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