Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Redneck honey extracting.

After a fantastic honey harvest last year, 7 1/2 gallons from one hive, a relatively easy winter with lots of honey to tide the bees over till they could produce again, I was shocked to find I had no bees in my hive this month. Some were there when I put the supers on, those are the small boxes to collect the honey for me but when I checked a few weeks later, no one, zip, zilch, nada, not one little bee. Just a bunch of ants, picnic bugs and a field mouse with a nest of babies in the bottom hive box, YIKES!! The little bugger made a mess of it, chewed the frames and pretty much destroyed the hive body.

The upper hive body was full of honey so hauled it home along with the empty supers. But big problem, what do you do when your honey man is gone and his extracting equipment is all locked up in his garage? Well, I turned to Mr. Google, "How to extract honey by hand?" After perusing several sights, I learned that I, too, have a honey extractor, other people would call it an 88 Chevy Celebrity.

Set it in the sun and it quickly heats up to 120 degrees, allowing honey to flow.

Then take an empty cooler, put a refrigerator rack over the top and load the honey filled frame. The bees seal the frame with wax and that needs to be removed before the honey will drip out. To uncap the wax covering on the frame, some people buy a $100 hot knife, the red neck pulls out their trusty black and decker heat gun bought on sale at Bomgaars.
I, being rather impatient, made a 3 frame extractor by using 3 coolers, I do not recommend this in the future because eventually you have to clean up all that equipment. But this is what the red neck does, learns by experience.
I did have the foresight to line the back seat of the extractor with a big sheet of plastic and I also warned Bruce to let me know if he decides to take an extractor for a run. I needed to remove my honey trays or things could get real ugly.
After a hot afternoon in the extractor, the honey comb is soft and peels right off the frame into the cooler, along with the wax.
A cooler filled with lovely honey ready to be strained.


A cheese cloth covered colander over another bowl serves as a strainer. For obvious reasons I can't photograph pouring the honey and dregs into the bowl by myself, but I must say a sane person would not do it on a floor covered with carpet. Especially if you are not the person who keeps the floors clean, since I am that person, I can do anything I darn well please but I did have a big, wet, towel handy.  

The cooler is a bit cumbersome but, with some careful positioning, I was able to pour and scrape the contents into the strainer. Then it is a matter of letting all the honey run through the rest of the wax bits, helping it out with another bowl over the top as a press. The goal is to get as many utensils as possible covered with honey, I did very well.

TAA, DAA!!! The finished result, isn't it beautiful??

It's even prettier in the jar.

The moral of this story is not to be deterred when faced with a challenge, the end result can be very sweet.



  1. I want to have bees, but I don't have a 1988 chevy celebrity, can I use a different model when I have to extract honey?? RosannaVan

  2. Great job Julie !! You are so inventive :-)

  3. Good grief, woman - is there NOTHING that you can't do?!?!? the honey looks amazing!! You are indeed fortunate to have your own 'cooker' also....this was a great post although I myself was worn out after just reading all the work you put into this! Great job, Julie.

  4. Tried to comment the other day and it would not go through. Will try again. Just what did we do without the internet before now.

    Looked like a lot of work, it was great that you got some honey. Hope your bee population improves next year.
    Super job!!!

  5. Thank you for your explaination. I have often wondered if it was possible to extract the honey with 8 frame honey extractor.