What is a Honey Extractor
A honey extractor is a piece of equipment used by beekeepers in the extraction of honey from honeycombs. A honey extractor works by using centrifugal force to flick the honey from the honeycomb without destroying the comb.
A large plastic or stainless steel drum or container holds a frame basket, which spins and forces the honey out onto the inside of the drum. The honey then hits the drum wall and drains to the bottom of the drum ready for filtering and pouring. With this method the wax comb is not damaged within the frame and it can be reused by the bees.
Before a honey frame is ready to be spun out in a honey extractor, the wax capping must first be uncapped before frames are placed in a honey extractor. The bees cap the cells of honey with a thin layer of beeswax when honey is ready for storage inside the hive.
There are a number of different types of honey extractors on the market, lets take a look at some of the different options:
Manual or Electric Extractor
Manual - Manual honey extractors have a built-in hand crank that is used to spin your frames. The benefits of manual extractors are that they are cheaper and you can extract honey without needing a power source. Manual extractors are generally better suited to the hobby beekeeper with less than 10 hives.
Electric – Electric Honey Extractors use an electric motor to spin the frames in the extractor. Due to the convenience and speed of extraction, electric extractors are favoured by commercial beekeepers or anyone with a large number of hives. Once the frames are loaded into the extractor you are free to start uncapping the next patch of frames to extract.
Radial or Tangential
Tangential baskets – Tangential honey extractors are the most common small-scale hobby extractors available. They are designed to have the frames held in the basket with the honeycomb facing outwards. Tangential extractors only extract the honey from the outside facing side of the frame so you will then need to flip the frame and repeat the process.
Radial baskets – Radial honey extractors have their basket designed so that beehive frames sit with the top bar facing outwards. With the frames perpendicular to the outside wall, honey is forced from both sides
Size of Extractor
What size honey extractor you should chose depends on a number of factors;
Cost – larger extractors are more expensive
Space – larger extractors take up more room
Time – larger extractors can fit more frames so extract honey faster.
As a rough estimate, an extractor can reasonably handle double the number of hives given its number of frames: For example
2 frame extractor for up to 4 hives.
4 frame extractor for up to 8 hives.
9 frame extractor for up to 18 hives.
and so forth
The tastiest part of beekeeping is without a doubt harvesting the honey. Investing in a good honey extractor will save you time and allow you to harvest as much honey as possible. Whether commercial or hobbyist, The Bee Store has a range of honey extractors to suit your needs.