The June Extraction Party, courtesy of our generous host Peggi, was a big success. A lot of us have more summer honey to extract… Should we have another Extraction Party? Thanks to Bob Weseloh, we now have two additional extractors in addition to the club’s large extractor.
Please fill out the form below to let us know if you’re interested, and what dates work for you. Thanks!
The Santa Cruz County Fair is just around the corner, Sept 13 – 17th. GBA always has a booth staffed with GBA volunteers. It is a great event, lots of fun, and a chance to promote our great club to the public. Any level of beekeeping experience is welcome, and you will probably learn something yourself while attending!
There are two ways to extract honey from your frames:
Crush and squeeze
Crush and Squeeze
The crush and squeeze requires the least amount of equipment. It is simple – scrape all the capped honey cells off the frame with a putty knife or spatula, squeeze the honey out of all the wax, and strain it.
It’s inexpensive and simple.
The wax comb on the frames is destroyed. Your bees will have to rebuild the comb, which takes significant energy.
It’s very messy and time consuming.
The club owns two extractors – a 12 frame motorized extractor, and a small hand-crank extractor. Both can be reserved here.
You will need:
Filter (optional, but highly recommended).
There are a number of uncapping tools, ranging from expensive automated frame un-cappers to kitchen forks. Here are some of the simpler options:
Works well on fresh, light golden colored caps. Not as effective on darker colored caps.
You can also use a kitchen fork.
An uncapping knife can work well if your bees have built very even honey cells. Pictured above is a “cold” knife – there are also heated knives that melt the caps.
When you uncap your wax, put that through a strainer too. You will be amazed how much honey is in there. Once it’s strained save the wax and render down to use to make other hive products such as candles and bees wax wraps.
Buckets and Filters
Remember to get a lid!! A simple lid (like these “easy peel” lids) is best – the gamma seal lids can be harder to clean and are more expensive.
Home Depot carries food grade 5 gallon plastic buckets. Check in the paint department.
Or you can use a mesh bag filter, like this, available from Amazon, or find them in the paint department at your local hardware store.
It will be easy to fill your honey jars if you install a gate valve in your honey bucket before you extract. Here’s a link to a valve on Amazon. You will need a hole saw to drill the hole in your bucket. Come to a GBA Extraction Event and we will have a drill and hole saws available for use.
Do not take frames with any brood, larvae or eggs.
Avoid taking frames with pollen.
Do not take frames that have pest damage, e.g. wax moth trails. It can add a bad taste and smell to all your extracted honey.
The honey should be capped.
It is best to only take fully capped frames. If there are a few uncapped honey cells, hold the frame horizontally and gently shake it up and down. If any liquid comes out of the uncapped cells, then put that frame back. That uncapped honey is not a high enough concentration yet – you risk having your extracted honey start to ferment.
If you are using an extractor, take an even number of frames to balance the extractor.
Removing and Transporting Frames
It is easiest to transport the frame in a hive box.
If you have an extra hive box:
Select a frame.
Brush and/or shake off most of the bees.
Put it in your extra box.
Best not to leave empty room in the super:
Remove the empty super.
Or replace the selected frames with empty frames.
Or replace the extracted frames (“wet” frames) soon.
Warning: the “wet” frames (those which you just extracted) can easily create a very ugly robbing scenario… if you are returning the wet frames to your super, do it quickly.
A small leaf blower (like this) is handy for blowing off stragglers before transporting or moving the box(es) of honey frames.
You now have a box full of sticky honey and beeswax… keep that in mind if you’re putting it in your vehicle.
Laying down a large, flat plastic garbage bag works well to protect your car.
There will always be a few stragglers… placing a wet towel over the box will keep them from flying around in your car.
Don’t forget, your box of honey frames is a magnet for other bees in the neighborhood. Keeping a wet towel or cover over your hive box will reduce the chance of creating an unwanted bee party.
Prepare for Extraction
Avoid getting yourself into a robbing bee frenzy! Keep your honey frames under wraps until you’re ready:
It is highly recommended to do this indoors, in your garage, or at a club Extractor Day. Doing it outdoors is asking for trouble.
Get the extractor setup and ready to go.
Get all your tools, buckets and filters organized and ready.
Take a moment and rehearse in your mind your workflow.
If you find extra bees in the extracting area, turn off the lights. They will fly towards a window, and can easily be removed.
Keep a bowl with water near by and paper towels to rinse your hands and hive tool when they get extra sticky.
Be careful not to get water in your honey – this can cause fermentation.
Put down a canvas tarp or cardboard or a tablecloth on the floor where extracting to catch any drips.