Extracting Honey: Equipment Needed

Here is Grandpa Andersen uncapping a frame of honey. The uncapped honey is on the top, and he is removing wax cappings from the bottom.

Get ready for extracting by gathering needed equipment. 

Uncapping tools. Bees bring nectar back to the hive, put it in a honeycomb cell, cure it, and then cap the cell over with wax. This wax cap needs to be removed to get the honey out of the frame. Below is a photo of a frame that shows the foundation, honey in uncapped cells, and honey in capped cells. 

We use a capping scratcher, to remove these wax caps, as we sell raw honey. Below is Grandpa Arthur Andersen is using a hot knife instead. 

You will also need a drip tray to catch the wax cappings and honey. See his metal tub with a piece of wood across the top? It has a nail poked up through the bottom of the piece of wood to suspend the frame. That works well as a drip tray! There is some honey in those cappings, which he is collecting in a container below the drip tray.

Extractor. An extractor is a centrifuge that spins honey out of uncapped honey frames. Honey collects at the bottom of the extractor drum and can be piped out into a container. Extractors can be tangential or radial and motorized or hand crank. Radial extractors remove honey from both sides of a frame at once. Tangential extractors remove honey from one side at a time. The smaller, less expensive models cost around $400. 

A 1960’s version of a hand-crank extractor. 

Strainer. The blurry strainer pictured below (in my hand) fits well over a 5-gallon bucket. It is commercially available. You could also use any coarse screen, nylon cloth, or cheesecloth to strain honey. The strainer removes large wax particles and bees’ knees from the honey. 

NOTE: A strainer is NOT a “filter.” Filtering honey is done primarily by large honey packers. It removes any particles larger than 1 microgram. This includes pollen, wax particles, bees knees, etc. It is not a necessary step to produce honey, and there are benefits to having some of these particles in the honey. 

In this picture, you can also see a hand-crank tangential extractor. This is from our beekeeping class extracting demonstration.

Containers. You will also need a container to store honey until it is bottled. We like to use a modified 5 gallon bucket. We use two modified buckets for bottling. Something with a wide mouth works best. 

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