Less Improvised Honey Extraction
Posted by theprospectofbees under Uncategorized
| Tags: beekeeping
| Our honey straining equipment from Brushy Mountain arrived a few days after our fun with the funnel. Except for a few parts it could be easily DIY-built given a suitable pair of food-grade buckets with lids but obtaining such proved difficult for us to do on short notice.
Honey Straining Apparatus
Working from left to right in the picture we see:
A 5-gallon bucket with honey gate. This actually comes as two pieces: the honey gate, which is a kind of valve optimized for thick fluids and the first of the hard-to-DIY parts, and the bucket, which has a hole in its side near the bottom.
The honey gate has a threaded end with an O-ring that inserts into the hole (O-ring on the outside) and is locked in place by a large plastic nut. Assembly is easier if the gate is inserted upside-down, that is, with the lever pointing left. (As with scissors there is a right-handed bias.) Then after the nut is firmly hand-tightened, the gate is given a half-turn clockwise from the outside. The walls of the bucket are flexible enough to flatten slightly and make a better seal than one would expect although a few beeks will apply food-grade silicone around the outside.
The gate pivots on the left-hand screw, loosened just enough to allow motion, as one raises and lowers the handle extending to the right. The right-hand screw fits into a notch in the handle and has a wingnut for easy loosening during bottling to allow the notch to be easily lifted off and lowered on along with easy tightening to avoid leaks while honey is being accumulated in the lower bucket.
A 600 micron filter, the second of the hard-to-DIY parts. This seats neatly into the top of the bucket. We debated over using this. While we certainly wish to remove things like bee legs and wax fragments from our honey, we want to keep any pollen. Googling reassured us that most pollen is less than 100 microns in size so we used it anyway. Four and two hundred micron filters are separately available as well and should also pass pollen.
A perforated stainless steel plate to fit into the next piece.
An assembly consisting of a 5-gallon bucket, this one with most of its bottom removed, leaving just a lip to hold the plate, attached to a bucket lid with matching hole. A DIY-er could omit using a plate by simply drilling several holes through the bottom of the bucket rather than cutting one large one, although having a plate makes it easier to clean things.
Bottom of Bucket and Lid Assembly
Seen in this second bucket are a strainer bag to hold the crushed comb and some rubber bands (ordered separately) to hold the bag in place. Various kinds of mesh bags can be used. The bag provides a coarse degree of filtration to remove chunks of comb and parts of bee. Some beeks go no finer while others use it as a prefiltration stage for something like our 600 micron filter. And it provides an easy way to remove the spent comb from the bucket for cleanup. Removing it from the bag is still messy.
Lastly a lid to keep dust and things from falling into comb as it drains or into the honey as it sits awaiting bottling.
The assembly sequence is:
- Start with the first bucket and make sure the honey gate is closed.
- Insert the filter.
- Add the second-bucket-cum-lid assembly.
- Insert the stainless steel plate.
- Insert the strainer bag and hold with rubber bands.
- Fill with crushed comb.
- Cover with the lid.
- Leave it be overnight.
And here is the first jar of honey from the late Beatrix.
Our First Jar of Honey
It is not as clear as most honey we have seen. The slight granularity detected on the tongue suggests this is due to tiny sugar crystals. If so then gentle heating ought to clarify but we probably shan’t bother.