The third step in harvesting honey is extracting. Most of the honey that is sold today is in the form of liquid honey. In order to produce the liquid honey, it must be extracted from the comb.
I extracted this year’s crop of honey yesterday. With the set up and clean up, it takes up most of the day. I estimate that my two hives produced about 14 gallons of surplus this year but I won’t know the total until I bottle it.
How Bees Make Honey
Honey is made from the nectar of flowers. The bees take the nectar and add an enzyme to break the complex sugars down into simple sugars. They then evaporate the moisture out of the nectar until it is below 18% water content. Once the honey is cured the bees place an air tight wax capping on the honey.
The honey bees produce a complete product. Due to the low moisture content and the acidity of honey it will keep indefinitely. The honey can be consumed with the comb but then the bees must produce more comb again next year. Producing extracted honey allows the honey comb to be reused, all the bees have to do is make another capping.
To extract honey, the wax capping must be removed. The frame of honey is then spun in a centrifuge called an extractor. Filtering is the next step of the extraction process. Once the honey is filtered it is ready for bottling.
I use a nine frame radial extractor with integrated tank that I purchased from Brushy Mountain. The advantage of radial is that I do not have to flip the frames to spin out all the honey, thus saving labor. Being able to extract nine frames at a time is convenient because each honey super contains nine frames of drawn comb. There is a stainless steel mesh screen between the extractor and the honey tank that filters out large pieces of wax.
If you have any questions or comments about extracting honey let me know in the comments section below.