How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor

Honey Flowing from Extractor | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

In 2014, my husband and I entered the wonderful world of beekeeping. We are able to catch wild swarms, ensure the health of the hives, watch the bees work, and have our garden pollinated by thousands of bees who live about 20 feet away. The best part of beekeeping, though, is when we have the opportunity to extract honey from our hives!

What You Need to Know About Extracting Honey

We extract honey 1-2 times per year right now with the 4 hives that we have. Each time we extract, we collect between 2-5 gallons of honey depending on how many supers we pull from. I want to walk you through the steps that we take to put this liquid gold on our table and on the tables of our neighbors.

Equipment Needed:

When to Extract Honey

You need to extract honey from your hives when it is warm outside and when the bees have already been able to store up a sufficient amount of honey for themselves.

You will also need to be sure that each frame is at least 80% capped. Bees cap the cells of honey when the moisture in the honey is at the proper levels. Harvesting too early can cause your honey (technically still nectar at this point) can ferment in the jars.

If you are planning to make honey wine (mead), then fermentation is what you want… If you are trying to extract honey to eat or to sell, then you need to wait for the honey to ripen in the frame.

We usually extract honey in May (if there is extra honey available at this point) and in September. If you only harvest once per year, I suggest doing it in September and skipping the May harvest.

How Often Should You Extract Honey

I suggest only extracting honey 1-2 times per year. You don’t want to rob your bees of all of their honey stores because they will starve.

There are many people who believe that beekeepers take honey that the bees desperately need, but that isn’t true. Honeybees are hoarders so as long as you give them extra space (supers on top of their regular supply box) then they will continue to hoard honey. We ONLY take honey from the extra supers that have been added to the hive to ensure that the bees stay happy and healthy all year long. Also, if we leave all of the extra honey in the hive over the winter it will be unused and become crystallized.

How To Extract Honey From Your Hives

From Hive to Home in 9 Steps

1. Wear Proper Protection.

Always, always, always wear a protective bee suit with a hood when going into a hive. Some beekeepers get cocky with this and then they get stung. My husband wears a full jump suit with gloves and an attached mesh hood.

2. Smoke the Bees.

Smoking is a practice that we use for protection and to help keep the bees calm. We put grass, twigs, or paper into the canister of the smoker, light it, and press some of the smoke onto the hives as we open them. It doesn’t hurt the bees, but it keeps them calm long enough to pull the frames out without causing them to swarm.

Smoking a Beehive | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

3. Pull Frames Carefully.

Pulling the frames out of the hives can be either really simple or really tricky. This time we had one hive that was simple- just pry the frames apart gently with the hive tool and lift them out with the frame holder- but we had another hive that was a little more complicated. The bees had built comb between the frames so the wax would break into chunks each time we pulled a new frame.Pulling Beehive Frames | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

4. Transport from Hive to the Extractor.

You have to move the honey pretty far away from the hives before you can extract or the bees will come after it. We put some of our frames into the box the we use in the capping process. The rest went into our kids’ little red wagon. We then moved the frames up to our garage because we can close the doors to keep the bees out so we can extract honey in peace.

5. Brush the Bees Off of the Frames.

My husband, still in his full suit, stays right outside of the garage door with the frames that still have bees on them. I go into the garage and wait for him to brush the bees off of each frame and slide them through the door to me. I then put the bee-less frames full of honey into some empty super boxes until we have all of them brushed.

Brushing Bees | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

 6. Remove Wax Caps.

When the bees have filled a comb full of honey and it has reached the right moisture level they will place wax caps over the hexagonal openings to keep the honey from spilling out. We use a capping knife over the box that I mentioned earlier to cut the caps off so that we can access the honey. These caps can be rendered later for beeswax.

Removing Cap from Honey | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

See how we extract honey in this video!

7. Spin the Frames.

This is the most time-consuming step when we extract honey. My husband & I usually turn this into a “date night” activity. We play darts or she other game while the honey spins. The uncapped frames are placed four at a time into the extractor. We place the lid on and spin until the outermost side of each frame has been emptied. We then flip the frames and spin until the other side is empty. This is repeated until all of the frames are emptied.

Spinning Honey | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

8. Filter the Honey.

The extracted honey collects in the bottom of the extractor and runs out of the spout at the bottom into a food grade bucket with a mesh filter. The honey will run through this filter to remove any bees and wax that were still on the frame during extraction.

Filtering Honey | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

9. Jar the Finished Product.

After the honey has run through the filter we break out the Mason Jars to fill. We keep filling until we run out of honey.

Jarring Honey | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

What is Chunk or Comb Honey?

Since several of our frames had wax built in between them the comb broke into chunks and could not be placed into the extractor. Instead of wasting this precious liquid, we decided to try our hand at chunk honey.

Chunk honey is basically a chunk of honey-filled comb surrounded by more honey. Packaging this way keeps all of the propolis, pollen, and everything else that the bees put into the honey because the comb has not been uncapped, filtered, or altered by us at all. It is the most natural form of honey available. The comb is also said to be one of the best cures for allergies and asthma!

To eat it, you can use a kitchen knife to cap and let the honey drain out, but many people love to eat a chunk of the comb whole or spread it on toast. There are many different ways to utilize chunk honey to fit your palate preference.Comb Honey | How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor | Faithful Farmwife

>>More Beekeeping Resources<<


Pin “How to Extract Honey With a Hand-Crank Extractor” for later!

Interested in beekeeping or just love eating honey? Check out this complete guide that will teach you to extract honey at home using a hand-crank extractor! #beekeeping #extracthoney #rawhoney #eatlocal #honeyextraction #honey #beekeeping Interested in beekeeping or just love eating honey? Check out this complete guide that will teach you to extract honey at home using a hand-crank extractor! #beekeeping #extracthoney #rawhoney #eatlocal #honeyextraction #honey #beekeeping Interested in beekeeping or just love eating honey? Check out this complete guide that will teach you to extract honey at home using a hand-crank extractor! #beekeeping #extracthoney #rawhoney #eatlocal #honeyextraction #honey #beekeeping

Save

Save

9 Simple + Actionable Homemaking Tips for Moms
51 of the Best Engaging STEM Activities for Kids

Similar Posts

12 Comments

  1. The extraction is such a fascinating process. Filtration is very important to prevent over crystallization as well. You have a great looking blog, by the way.

  2. Thank you for sharing, Jess! I’ve always wanted to do this but being a city girl means I don’t get the chance to at least have a go at this once. Next time, let us know how we can try out these awesome things if we come for a visit at Tennessee.

  3. Great article! Jess, Thank you so much for sharing this informative article.
    I think, by using homemade honey extractor we can easily extract honey without having problems.

  4. A honey extractor is one of the most expensive individual equipment a beekeeper is likely to buy †. If you are lucky, your association could possess one or more extractors and make them available to borrow or hire. However, you remove one, after use, they must be thoroughly cleaned before recording (or returning) them.

  5. Good to see the way that using the Honey Extractor to spin and extract honey from a honeycomb. With a honey extractor allows us to extract honey without damaging the honeycomb. Thanks for sharing this useful article!

  6. No doubt this is an excellent post I got a lot of knowledge after reading good luck. Theme of blog is excellent there is almost everything to read, Brilliant post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *