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The honey extractor is perhaps one of the beekeeping equipment that comes last in any beekeeper’s plan when getting started in beekeeping. Nonetheless, you can never do without it once the bees begin to generate the fruits of your hard labor – the honey. There are ways to make your own homemade honey extractor using locally available resources. This not only saves money but it takes the least effort and will work just like a commercial honey extractor.
The honey extractor allows the beekeeper to remove the sweet honey from the combs without destroying them. You can opt to squeeze the honey out of the combs using bare hands but that will mess with the little hexagons that take time for the bees to create. The extractor preserves these structures, hence saving energy and effort that would have been used by the bees to make new combs. This also saves time and money for the beekeeper in the long run.
Every beekeeper who intends to sell honey should have an extractor, since it is impractical to separate honey from dozens of honey combs by hand. As a matter of fact, few people are willing to buy cut comb honey. Most of them love the pure liquid honey that has been separated from wax and other components.
Commercial Honey Extractors
Commercial honey extractors do not come cheap. Some popular brands such as Dadant and Sons offer manual and electric operated honey extractors. The price range for the manually operated ones range between $75 to $85. As for the electric units, the price is within the tune of $165 and well above. A homemade honey extractor will costly barely half of what would cost to buy a manually operated unit.
VIVO is another brand that has never disappointed when it comes to honey extractors. Its unique designs are ideal for all skill levels. Goplus is also another popular brand known for its manual honey extractors. Other popular brands include: Best Choice Products, Mann Lake, Hardin, Goodland Bee Supply, and the Little Giant Farm. These brands offer both electric and manual honey extractors all of which are designed to allow the beekeeper extract the honey without disorientating the honeycomb structure.
Best Materials for a Homemade Honey Extractor
You have plenty of materials to consider when you decide to make your own honey extractor. Most of them can be collected at home, others bought online, and others procured from nearby stores. But what really defines an ideal material for making your homemade honey extractor:
- Availability – the material should be easily available and within reach otherwise it will not make sense to make your unit at home.
- Food grade – your safety should be on mind when choosing what to use in building your homemade honey extractor. Any food grade material makes the best material for the honey extractor. All components of the unit that come in contact with the honey frames and the honey should be safe. They should also be resistant to rust and abrasion. Stainless steel materials are the best for making honey extraction equipment.
- Price – if you are supposed to buy the materials, then they should be affordable otherwise the entire unit may end up being more expensive than a commercial unit. Make use of online stores such as eBay or Amazon when buying the materials for creating your homemade honey extractor.
- Number of frames – you have to consider the number of frames to be uncapped. The homemade honey extractor is ideal for those who will uncap a few frames. If you have many hive hive and many frames to extract, then you’ll probably be better off investing in a commercial honey extractor.
Design 1 – Making a Homemade Honey Extractor
Materials and Tools Required
- 20 gallon food grade container to be used as drum.
- Sharp knife or jigsaw.
- Wire mesh.
- ¼ HP motor with a spin rate of between 175 to 200 rpm.
- Wood board.
- Gear reduction.
- Wooden material for building base.
Step 1 – Drum
Take the 20 gallon food container and the jigsaw or sharp knife. Cut a 1-inch hole at the bottom of the drum close to the outer edge of the drum. This is the hole that will direct the honey out of the drum through the valve and out into the collecting jar or bottle. You should also buy a valve and install it at the hole so as to properly manage honey flow.
Step 2 – Inner Basket
This is where the honeycombs will be held for spinning. The inner basket is rectangular in shape and its sides is made using welded wire mesh. Its bottom is designed using perforated metal sheet and should have large holes for the honey to flow into the drum.
The dimensions of the inner basket should be enough to fit the drum and still provide room for spinning the basket.
You will need some basic welding tools when making the inner basket. The pattern of the inner basket should be such that it can hold up to 4 frames at a go. A center axis rod should also be created for the basket to spin on.
Step 3 – Setting up the Motor
The purpose of the motor is to spin the inner basket and ultimately push the liquid honey out of the honeycombs. It flings the frames against the sides of the drum and thus pushes the honey out into the bottom of the drum where it is directly into the valve attached at the edge of the drum. Use the wood boards to build a base for your motor across the upper part of the drum. You can also take a center axis rod that will be fitted into a variable speed power drill which will then power the honey extractor.
Step 4 – Gear Reduction Installation
The gear reduction will be connected between the motor and the center axis. This is required for regulating the basket’s spin rate. Fix this in whichever design deemed suitable but just ensure it is simple enough to be operational and consume less of your time to design. As for a power drill it is pretty easy to regulate the rate of spin thanks to its variable speed settings.
Step 5 – Base of the Extractor
You can use any kind of material imaginable to build the base of your extractor. Plywood or a piece of wood makes a good material for building the base. This is designed to securely keep the extractor in place when spinning. You can also fix the extractor in a permanent place such as a wall or the floor. The extractor is now ready for use.
Advantages of Design 1
- It is easy to create.
- It does not destroy the honey frames after spinning.
- Requires easily available materials to build and operate.
- It is easy to clean and maintain.
- Its simplistic design takes less time to build.
- It is cheaper to build.
- Easy to operate.
- Quite sophisticated overall design compared to anything homemade.
- The in-built valve makes it easy to control the honey flow and avoid any wastage.
- Powerful extractor given the motor capability.
- Highly efficient.
Disadvantages of Design 1
- Some of the materials have to be bought separately.
- It is a little complex for some people to build.
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Design 2 – Making a Homemade Honey Extractor
You can also make your honey extractor using a second technique explained below:
Materials and Tools Required
- Metal paint stirrer.
- Wire mesh.
- Wood molding.
- Zip ties.
- A drill.
- Prepare a cylindrical cage using the wire mesh. You can do this by bending the wire mesh into that shape.
- Ensure the cylindrical cage is large enough to hold two honey frames. The upper part of the cage should be left open for inserting the frames into the cage.
- Use 4 zip ties to connect the bottom of the cage to the circular metal section of your paint stirrer.
- Take the piece of wood molding and a hole at its centre to allow the shaft of the paint stirrer to go through it. The total length of the wood should be equivalent to the diameter of the cage and the hole at its centre slightly larger than the shaft so as to allow for a snag fit.
- Cut a hole at the end of each side of the wood molding such that the holes are large enough to allow a zip tie go through.
- Attach the wood molding to each end of your cylindrical cage using the zip tie.
- Your homemade honey extractor is now completed. This should take no more than 30 minutes to complete if you have all the required materials for the job.
How do you operate it?
This simple honey extractor is easy to use and clean. To operate it, follow these steps:
- Connect the shaft of the paint stirrer to an electric drill.
- Take two uncapped honey frames and put them inside the cylindrical cage.
- Place the extractor inside a food grade barrel or container. Hold the cage in the center during the entire operation.
- Switch on the drill and the cage will begin to spin the honey frames. As the frames are spun, the honey will be removed from the honey frames and flow to the bottom of the barrel or collecting container. Ensure you keep in check the speed of the drill such that a reasonable speed is maintained throughout the honey extraction process. Keep turning on and off the drill so that the speed is kept at optimum level. Excessive speed will tear apart the honey frames and too slow spinning will not extract any honey from the frames.
- Take out the spun honey frames and re-insert them into the cylindrical cage, only that this time the opposite side faces outwards. Switch on the drill once again and extract the sweet honey from the opposite side of the frames.
- Take out the empty frames and your work is done.
Advantages of Design 2
- The materials are easily available.
- It takes a short time to build.
- Easy to operate.
- Simple to build.
- Easy to clean and maintain.
- It does not destroy the honey frames but rather keeps them intact which allows you to reuse them.
- It is effective in spinning the honey out of both sides of the honey frames.
- Cheap materials.
- Longer lasting design.
- More efficient given the fact that it is machine span and yet operated manually as well.
Disadvantages of Design 2
- It requires some physical strength to hold the drill and honey frames within the barrel.
- Spins a maximum of only two frames at once.
This second design is quite easy to build and will suit a beekeeper with a few hives. The simpler the design, the better it is for a small scale beekeeper. The beekeeper with more hives may find this design to be inefficient. A good one would be one that can spin at least four frames at once and be operated without the need to hold drill and frames when spinning. Of course, large scale beekeepers are best suited with a commercial honey extractor.
A Final Word
DIY skills for building a homemade honey extractor can help you save the money you would have incurred in procuring a commercial extractor. The beauty of it all is the fact that all that is needed is some simple materials that are available locally. It also takes a little effort and time to build your own honey extractor. However, the downside to making a homemade honey extractor is the fact that it seems complex to do it, especially if you have not done it before. Fortunately, once you begin it becomes so much easier.
As they say, “There is no single and only way of doing something”, this applies to honey extractors too. Check out other DIY designs that have been tried by other beekeepers and pick one that might work for you. Improve your skills and make beekeeping more fun and more exciting by building some of your beekeeping accessories, such as the honey extractor, at home.
What do you think of this DIY guide? How do you suggest it could be improved, or how would you do it in your own way? Leave a comment below and let us know.