Home Made Honey Extractor

Kirsty and I are planning on moving one of our hives to the farm soon. In preparation, I removed the second super and extracted three honey frames. The partial honey frames were moved to the new hive to replace foundation frames. One frame was quite full, the other two were about 1/2 to 2/3 full. We got about 4kg of honey.

I used a home made, two frame extractor which I constructed last year from the following bits :

* old hot water service plastic drum
* some pine timber
* scrap bits of aviary wire
* small plastic chopping board
* 8mm threaded rod
* nuts and washers

Approximate cost was about $20, not including the drill and G clamps (which I already had).

I was going to purchase a new one but they did not have any in stock at the time, had to improvise.

The lid was cut off the drum to size. A plastic bearing and bush was crafted from the plastic chopping board with a hole saw. Two wooden handles were added to the sides at level for the basket to be clamped onto. A hole was cut into the bottom of the drum to allow the honey to drain out into the strainer and settling container.

A wooden basket was constructed from plain non-structural pine. The threaded rod was bolted rigid centrally through the basket and a plastic bush was bolted onto the end of the rod. The aviary wire was nailed onto the basket where the frames site. An earlier trial without the wire caused the frames to break up easily.

The nuts attaching the basket to the central rod have to be very tight, or they come loose and the rod moves up or down depending on the direction of rotation. May be some spring washer or lock nuts would be better.

The basket is clamped onto the drum, the cross piece is hardwood for extra strength. I smear a teaspoon of honey in the plastic bearing for lubrication.

I waited for a warm day (30 degrees C), Kirsty put the super out in the sun during the day, with a lid and on newspaper to keep bees out.

An electric drill is used to spin the basket. If the frames are reasonably balanced the basket spins quite well. The drill I used was 700watts and got quite hot after several minutes of spinning. It took about 2-3 minutes to extract the honey from two frames.

It was a bit of a juggling act to balance up three frames for extracting. The drum danced around a bit if it was out of balance, and needed a firm grip. After about a minute of spinning the frames evened up and it got easier.

While it is generally not recommended, we just leave the drum and basket out on the balcony (not near our hives) for a day or two and bees clean up thoroughly.

We will most likely buy a commercial extractor, may be next season. The home made one is fine for doing a couple of supers, but I reckon we would go through a few drills.

Another alternative is a commercial handle and bearing kit which we can get locally for $125 to use instead of a drill.

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