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Using a Honey Press for Extraction

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Extraction of honey from comb is mainly done using centrifugal force, or by crushing the comb and straining out the honey. Machines are used to speed up the various processes and bolster other factors of production. In this article, you will learn about the best honey press machines and their use.

The two most popular types of machines in extraction of honey are centrifugal honey extractors and honey presses. Centrifugal extractors have the similar designs of the extraction chamber. They only differ by doing either tangential or radial extraction. There are two major designs of honey presses. One uses roller drums to press wax passed between the rollers. Its use is not very popular in comparison to the other the design that involves pressing on the honey in a bucket-like container. We will focus on the bucket honey press since it is the better of the two designs. The given advantage of the roller-drum honey press is the possibility to have the wax collected in one receptacle, as honey is collected in another receptacle immediately after pressing.

What is a Honey Press?

A honey press is a machine that squeezes honeycomb between two surfaces. It can use either rollers or a pressure plate, though the typical ones are those using a pressure plate – also called a bucket honey press. Typical features of a bucket honey press include the pressure plate, a receptacle for comb with honey that can let honey flow through it and use of some force on the pressure plate. Application of force on the pressure plate crushes the comb placed underneath. The crushed comb releases honey from the cells. Various methods of collecting the extracted honey and putting it into a receiving container are provided for. They are usually incorporated into the design and manufacture of the device.

In a honey press, the pressed wax is left in the sieve bucket. It is removed before more material is put in. The wax can be left on straining setups to allow more honey to flow out. In the right conditions, the honey is fully strained from wax in a day. Wax can then be stored or processed for its preferred uses. If you do not subject the wax to further straining after pressing, you can eat it as chunk honey.

In the cut and strain method of honey extraction, sieving and filtration of honey can be done to varying degrees. Using a filter that removes chunks of wax but leaves pollen in the honey is sometimes done. The pressed honey with pollen has a more pronounced flavor. The honey is also of better nutritional value because of the presence of pollen grains in it.

Extracting honey using a press is a very rewarding experience for the beekeeper. It achieves the first step in separation of two major beehive products. Subsequent processing of the wax or honey is carried out individually. With a press, it is recommended that you work on comb that is at least 800 F (26.70 C) or warmer. The process of subsequent straining can be completed in about a day if the comb is warm enough during the entire process. If temperatures are lower beyond 700 F (21.10 C), straining can be required to run for more than a few days for best results. Even then, the honey or comb should not be heated too much, so that its nutritional value is retained.

Honey Presses for Large Operations

Large beekeeping operations harvest more honey annually. They have more honeycombs to process and extract honey from. The comb often comes in large batches. Crushing the large batches of honeycomb is easy with a honey press. The beekeeper can also use the larger-sized honey presses to crush more honeycomb per run. Large sized honey presses also hold more extracted honey in them. They can last long before needing to drain the extracted honey. The beekeeper is able to work continuously at pressing comb and the subsequent straining if any is needed.

Benefits of Using a Honey Press

Honey presses have characteristics that are unique to them. They also perform differently from other honey extraction machines. Beekeepers choosing whether to use a centrifugal extractor or a honey press, should take these performance and usage characteristics into consideration.

1. When using Warré or Top Bar beehives

One major benefit is that it is great for the extraction of honey when you are using a Warré or Top Bar hive in your beekeeping operation. Foundationless beekeeping with the two types of beehive does not necessitate reuse of already formed comb. In the Langstroth beehive however, extracted beehive frames are best returned to the beehive with their comb intact. It speeds up production of honey and brood in the beehive by saving bees the time and resources needed to draw fresh comb.

2. Efficient and effective

Another advantage that makes it loved by beekeepers, is its efficiency and effectiveness. A honey press does not waste much honey. It might be economical to use one in some smaller honey harvests than a centrifugal extractor. This makes honey presses very popular among beekeepers with small beekeeping operations and those just starting out in beekeeping. Experienced beekeepers can also use the device to extract honey from some or all the honeycomb from their harvest. Honey extracted using the crush and strain method is preferred by some consumers. The honey contains varying amounts of wax or comb in it, depending on how the beekeeper carried out extraction.

3. Multipurpose

The device is multipurpose, and having one is great for beekeepers with other agricultural production operations. It can be used to press other products of the farm such as fruits. Winemakers can use the honey press to extract juice from berries. Being able to use the same equipment for more than one purpose in the farm makes it a worthy investment for such beekeepers. Using the device on anything other than honeycomb, follows the same operation procedures.

4. Getting chunk honey

Consumers that love the taste and experience of eating chunk honey, are best suited by processing using a honey press. This method of consuming honey is touted to be the most natural way. The clear honey obtained when some other types of extraction methods are used, is sometimes seen as over-purified by these consumers. To meet the demands of such honey consumers in the market, beekeepers are best suited by a honey press when preparing their beehive harvest.

5. Portable

A honey press is very portable. It is usually lighter in weight than a centrifugal extractor of equal capacity. You can also dissemble it for storage. It requires simple assembly when you need to use it again. In storage, the device takes up little space. These factors make the device more useful to many beekeepers. They can easily move the presses to apiaries and back home if needed. If a fellow beekeeper borrows the honey press, they have easy time transporting the press to the location where they want to use it.

Issues with Using a Honey Press

Various persons, including beekeepers and organizations have raised issues with the use of honey presses. The most common issues raised are realized when it is compared to a centrifugal extractor. These issues should be considered when making the choice of what extraction method to use on honeycomb harvested from the apiary. The major issues include:

1. Not to everyone’s taste

The finished product from pressing honey may not be very appealing to some honey consumers. There are consumers of honey that prefer clear honey, and there are also some that want honey in comb prefer it to be unpressed. These two types of honey consumers do not enjoy honey processed using a honey press.

2. Destroys comb

As a beekeeper, you cannot speed up honey production in the beehive if you crush comb during harvesting. Comb that is intact after honey extraction, is placed back in the beehive to be immediately reused to store more honey. Bees clean it and quickly take to storing honey in the comb. They then re-cap the cells in which there is enough of ready honey.

3. Labor intensive

Using a honey press is sometimes too tiring for beekeepers. It is seen as being more labor-intensive than using a centrifugal extractor. This is especially true when you take into consideration that some centrifugal honey extractors are electric and do not involve any hand cranking at all. However, new developments in design and modifications are helping to overcome this disadvantage.

How to Use a Bucket Honey Press

The operation of a honey press is simple and can be done by both beginner and experienced beekeepers. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Put the pieces of cut beeswax into the press sieving bucket. The total amount of unpressed comb to put in depends on the size of the sieve bucket, preferences of the beekeeper and how much force can be applied using the press on the honeycomb.
  2. Press the handle of the device. This is the T-shaped handle at the top of the device. Pressing it in allows you to set the press to its ready position. The handle is also used to convert motion to pressure applied on the honeycomb.
  3. At the pressure plate, there is a screw. It runs the distance from the middle of the pressure plate to the T-shaped handle. On the pressure plate, it goes into a hole in the middle of the plate. Lead the screw until some tightness is felt. The handle should also be aligned well with the screw.
  4. Rotate the T-shaped handle of the honey pres. Most honey presses require clockwise rotary motion. Rotating the handle results in the screw pressing on the middle of the pressure plate. The pressure plate then transfers the pressure to honeycomb in the basket. Honey begins flowing out of the honeycomb and sieve as the comb is crushed under pressure.

Cleaning a Honey Press

After pressing honey, you should clean the honey press, which involves removing stuck bits of wax and honey. If left, they make the device quite dirty. They can also encourage bacteria and fungi growing on them. Microbial growth on the press can affect the next crop of honey if the press is not cleaned before use. The crop of honey is ruined and the loss can be injurious to the continuity of the beekeeping operation. Honey that is in the open can also attract insects. Some of the attracted insects may predate on nearby beehives and bees. If some of them are honeybees, they can rob nearby honey bee colonies.

Good hygiene in beekeeping keeps the quality of beehive products out of question. Quality often determines the price that your beehive products will fetch. The highest quality products get the best prices. Clean beekeeping equipment and other beekeeping management practices help keep the good quality of beehive products. Equipment such as honey presses that are used only at some time periods in the year, should be cleaned before and after use. They should also be kept covered so that dust does not settle on them. Cleaning also helps the equipment last longer and perform at its best.

You can use warm water and some food safe detergent to clean the honey press. When washed using some detergent, proper rinsing with clean water is needed. For detailed cleaning, honey presses are made to be easily dissembled so you can clean all parts properly. Contrary to some sources, you should not boil honey in the press to make it flow out better. Some heating can be done but it ruins honey when it exceeds  1040 F (400 C). Nutrients in the honey get destroyed when subject to high temperatures.

 

Best Honey Presses for Extraction

3. Large Hand Crank Honey Press, 12L

Honey Press - Large Hand Crank Honey Press, 12L

This is a large capacity hand cranked multipurpose honey press for beekeeping operations with a lot of honeycomb. It has a capacity of 12 liters that allows you to work longer at pressing comb without having to stop and empty the honey press. It has a handle that is T-shaped to save effort when pressing honey. This large capacity device is made with a frame on which other components sit. The frame elevates the press to a height that does not hurt your back when working with it. It also allows easy placement of containers to collect honey flowing from the press.

This honey press is easy to clean. Its operation is also very simple and intuitive. The simple design makes every part of the press easy to reach when cleaning. The stainless steel material used to make the honey press is also easy to clean. The stainless steel is strengthened by thickening. It is food safe and does not impart flavors or smells to honey processed using this honey press. It is great to use in a farm where the beekeeper is also producing products that need juicing. You can make juices and wines from fruits and vegetables using this honey press. The metal mesh has a diameter of 5 millimeters only. It arrests wax and other large pieces of material very well while allowing honey and liquids to flow through.

Pressing honeycomb without proper care and the right equipment can result in a lot of losses. This large capacity honey press arrests all the honey pressed from honeycomb in its container. There are no leaks or spills when the press is set up properly. However, this container is small and would require frequent draining into a collector bucket. A honey spout is provided to allow for the installation of mechanisms that regulate the flow of honey out of the press. Most honey gate sizes and models can fit onto the spout for use in controlling the flow of honey.

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2. Large Hand Crank Honey Press with Bucket, 10L

Honey Press - Large Hand Crank Honey Press with Bucket, 10L

This hand cranked honey is made using stainless steel for the major components as well as those that come into contact with honey and wax. Stainless steel is a food-safe metal alloy. Using it in the manufacture of this device is a great step towards making sure the press does not lower the quality of beehive products.

The honey press features a frame on which two buckets sit. One of the buckets is inside the other wider diameter bucket. The outer bucket is for collecting honey when it is pressed from comb. An inner bucket is used as the receptacle for unpressed honeycomb. It is not completely closed to allow honey to flow out. At the sides of the outer bucket, two supporting bars rise from the base. They are joined by a third bar that joins them over the top of the buckets. At the middle of the top bar, an attachment for the screw of the honey press is installed. One end of the screw has the handle to crank the honey press. The other end of the screw is at the pressure plate of the honey press.

This honey press collects honey in the outer bucket, where it is held until you are ready to let some out. The outer bucket is molded with a spout on which a controlling honey gate can be installed. The honey gate helps your avoid spilling honey. The gate is closed when pressing is going on and when there is not collecting container under the spout. The raised frame of this honey press helps with emptying of the honey bucket. It allows most popular honey collection and storage containers to fit under the provided honey outlet.

This honey press has a capacity of 10 liters. Its handle is long enough to allow use of little force when working with it. Its inner bucket of metal mesh allows honey to flow through it with ease too. These features of the honey press make it great for use in beekeeping operations that have a lot of comb to be pressed for honey extraction.

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1. Grasshome Stainless Steel Manual Honey Press, 10L

Grasshome Stainless Steel Manual Honey Press, 10L

This stainless steel honey press has a capacity of 10-liters and is manufactured by Grasshome. It is made using stainless steel in the most popular and effective design for honey presses. It sits on a frame that raises it off the ground. Extracting honey using this honey press is a breeze and I love it for its ease of use and excellent craftsmanship. The parts of the honey press that are joined come together in strong joints. It is made of various parts that are assembled to make the complete honey press. It can be dissembled with ease for storage and detailed cleaning. The honey press is built to function well with a honey gate for the regulation of honey flow installed. A spout on the honey press helps with the installation and successful operation of the honey gate.

Stainless steel and all other materials used to make the various parts of this Grasshome honey press are food safe. They do not release any chemical elements into honey or beeswax. The materials also leave the honey without foreign smells or flavors. They do not accelerate oxidization of honey or the loss of the honey’s nutritional value. The honey press can be used in various industries in addition to beekeeping. It can also be used to make derivative products of honey such as honey cream and honey mustard. This property of the honey press makes it very suitable for use with honey. It keeps the high quality of your beehive products during processing and value addition.

The inner bucket of this honey press has a diameter of 23.5 centimeters and a height of 28 centimeters. Its outer bucket is 30 centimeters in diameter and 30 centimeters high. The dimensions of the inner bucket allow for placement of a suitably large amount of honey comb for pressing. This works well with the large size of the outer bucket. It allows a lot of honeycomb to be pressed before you need to drain honey from the outer bucket. The honey press has a total weight of about 13 kilograms. It is not too heavy and can be transported with ease. Setting it up is also easy since it is easy.

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A Final Word

Pressing honey out of honeycomb is one of the great ways to separate honey and wax. It has some advantages over using centrifugal extractors. Crushing comb and then straining out the honey also has a few drawbacks when compared to other honey extraction methods. Beekeeping operations by both beginner and experienced beekeepers benefit from having a honey press in various ways. They are effective and efficient when used well. Using machines in beekeeping helps boost production and good quality of products. Use one or more of the reviewed best honey press devices for great results and user experience making crush and strain honey.

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