The Art of Extracting Honey: Tips and Tricks for Beginner Beekeepers

Beekeeping in New Zealand is gaining popularity, here is a quick guide to help you get on your way.

As a beginner beekeeper, it can be overwhelming to navigate the various tools and techniques involved in extracting honey from your hive. In this article, we will provide tips and tricks for beginner beekeepers to make the honey extracting process a success.

Understanding the Honey Extractor

The first step in extracting honey is to understand the tools involved. The most important tool in the process is the honey extractor. A honey extractor is a machine that spins the honeycomb frames, using centrifugal force to separate the honey from the wax. There are two types of honey extractors: manual and electric.

Manual honey extractors are typically cheaper and are operated by hand. They are suitable for small-scale honey production and are a good option for beginners. Electric honey extractors, on the other hand, are powered by electricity and are more efficient. They are suitable for larger-scale honey production and are a better option for experienced beekeepers.

When purchasing a honey extractor, it is important to consider the size of your hive and the amount of honey you plan to extract. A smaller extractor will be sufficient for a small hive, while a larger extractor will be necessary for a larger hive.

Preparing the Hive for Honey Extraction

Before beginning the honey extracting process, it is important to prepare the hive. Begin by removing any debris from the hive and ensuring that the bees are calm. Next, remove the honeycomb frames from the hive and inspect them for any signs of disease or pests. Discard any frames that show signs of damage or disease.

It is also important to remove any bees from the frames before extracting the honey. This can be done by using a bee brush to gently brush the bees off the frames or by using a bee smoker to smoke the bees away.

Extracting the Honey

Once the hive is prepared and the honeycomb frames are free of bees, it is time to begin extracting the honey. The process of extracting honey varies depending on the type of honey extractor used.

For manual honey extractors, the frames are placed in the extractor and turned by hand. As the frames are turned, the honey is forced out of the comb and into the extractor’s tank. The process is repeated until all of the honey has been extracted from the frames.

For electric honey extractors, the frames are placed in the extractor and the machine is turned on. As the extractor spins, the honey is forced out of the comb and into the extractor’s tank. The process is repeated until all of the honey has been extracted from the frames.

Filtering and Bottling the Honey

After the honey has been extracted, it is important to filter it to remove any debris such as wax or bee parts. A honey strainer or a double layer of cheesecloth can be used to filter the honey. Once the honey is filtered, it is ready to be bottled.

Be sure to use clean and sanitized bottles to store the honey. It is also important to label the bottles with the date and location of the honey’s origin.

Tips and Tricks for Beginner Beekeepers

  1. Start small. As a beginner beekeeper, it is important to start with a small hive and a small honey extractor. This will allow you to gain experience and confidence before tackling larger hives and extractors.
  2. Be patient. Extracting honey is a delicate process that requires patience. Take your time and work slowly to ensure that the process is done correctly.
  3. Use a bee smoker. A bee smoker is a useful tool for removing bees from the frames before extracting the honey. It is also useful for calming the bees during the extraction process.
  4. Keep the honey extractor clean. A clean honey extractor will ensure that the honey is not contaminated during the extraction process. Make sure to clean the extractor thoroughly after each use.
  5. Extract the honey at the right time. The best time to extract honey is when the majority of the honey has been capped by the bees. This typically occurs in late summer or early fall.
  6. Use the right bottles. Bottling the honey in clean, airtight containers will ensure that the honey stays fresh for longer. Glass or plastic bottles with tight-fitting lids are ideal.
  7. Label the bottles. Labeling the bottles with the date and location of the honey’s origin is important for keeping track of the honey’s quality and for identifying any potential issues

 

View the essential beekeeping equipment here.