An honey extractor machine

Honey extractor: Equipment and function

Beekeepers with beehives designated for honey production look forward to extracting honey from the combs. As a beginner or backyard beekeeper, you need to know the equipment required to extract honey from the comb. A honey extractor is an equipment used to extract honey from a comb by centrifugal force spinning, in a process that doesn't destroy the comb. The frame containing the comb is inserted into a honey extractor and removed after being used. With the use of an extractor, the bees' frame and comb can be used again for honey production. Honey extractors can be manual or electric. Also, while various honey extractors brands exist, a beekeeper can learn how to make a homemade type. Below are the types of extractors and how to use each.

Types of honey extractor

Radial honey extractor

A radial honey extractor spins the frame containing the honeycombs as it is placed with the top bar facing the outside. Then the frame rotates against gravity as a centrifugal force is applied. With a radial extractor, the structure doesn't need to be turned; the honey within the comb will fly out at both sides while spinning. Depending on the size, a radial extractor can take between 4 to 50 or even more frames at a time. It's used not only by large scale beekeepers but also small scale beekeepers.

Tangential honey extractor

Tangential honey extractor extracts honey, one frame at a time. The frames are placed in a basket with the honeycombs facing outwards. The tangential extractor is not commonly found among large-scale honey extractors due to changing the frame sides for full honey extraction; since this process slows down the speed of the work. An extractor can be manual or electric. A manual extractor is hand-controlled but suitable only for small scale or backyard beekeepers. The advantages of manual extractor are as follows:
  • Can be used without electricity
  • Less costly compared to the electric type The electric type is powered by electricity and is an ideal honey extraction equipment for large scale bee farm owners. The advantages of the electric kind are:
  • It's easy to operate
  • It has a honey spinner that is suitable for large scale extractions
  • An electric extractor extracts honey in a large volume compared to the manual type.

Choosing a honey extractor

Extracted honey
As a beekeeper, your bee farm's size and the number of frames you have will decide the type of honey extractor to purchase.
  • For small scale beekeepers with about 5 to 10 colonies, an extractor with the capacity of 3 to 5 frames is suitable.
  • For 10 to 50 colonies, an electric honey extractor will suffice.
  • Beekeepers with 200 commercial colonies can use an electric radial honey extractor, taking up to 30 frames and more.

Maintaining a honey extractor

Proper cleaning is key to long term use. So, follow these simple steps to ensure an appropriate cleaning and overall maintenance of a honey extractor:
  • Always empty the machine of any honey leftover before cleaning
  • Keep the honey gate clean after use
  • For big extractors, keep the bearing gearbox free of water
  • Rinse the machine with cold water (leave it overnight then expel it)
  • Dry the dregs with a towel after cleaning

The takeaway

Honey harvesting is one of the most rewarding aspects of bee rearing. To effectively extract honey from your colonies, employ good honey extractors. Good honey extractors, be it manual or electric, will prove helpful and fast when extracting honey without damaging the combs. When you purchase a honey extractor, keep it well maintained for long-term service.

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