Extracting Honey : Fall 2013

In the last post I mentioned that I pulled about 35 boxes of honey this year.  Happily I was able to pull those on nice warm days.  The moment I finished, the rain pulled in.  But I was inside the nice, warm 85F (30C) extraction room.  A side note: I extracted about 2 weeks ago, but I didn’t have time to post at that time…so, I’m playing catch-up with the posts.

I mark my boxes with pieces of tape as I bring them in.

Boxes of Honey Waiting For Extraction, Brookfield Farm Bees and Honey, Maple Falls Washington

Waiting To Be Extracted

No tape means the honey came from the “down river”, agricultural area, hives.  Blue tape means they came from the “up river”, forestry area, hives.

I always extract the up-river honey first.  It’s a lighter honey that included fireweed, thistle, and big leaf maple.  The down-river honey is darker with raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, brassicas, and other agricultural crops.


As you can see by the above image, my extraction room is small: 8 feet by 8 feet.  It works for me, and it is easy to keep warm.

At this time I use a decapping tub and a hot knife.  But I don’t use them in the normal way.

It hurts my wrists to hold up a frame of honey and cut down towards the tub.

So I clamp two clean pieces of wood to either side of the tub, leaving just enough space to fit a honey frame. Then I place the frame of honey on the over the opening.

A frame of honey ready to be uncapped.

Before Uncapping


Using another clean piece of wood to guide the tip of the decapping knife, I use both hands to draw the knife along the frame.  Rather like a two-handed plane.  This works well for me.  The honey is uncapped and my wrists don’t hurt.

An uncapped frame of honey

After uncapping


I have a 20 frame Maxant Extractor.  The “action” shots:

Honey Extractor (centrifuge) loaded with frames of honey

Loaded and Ready to Spin


Honey frames spin in a honey extractor

Extractor Spinning
(don’t open spinning extractors, it’s dangerous – but I wanted the shot)


Honey pours from Brookfield Farm's extractor

Let The Honey Flow

It is a good size for my operation and for the size of my extraction room.

It usually takes about fifteen minutes for the honey to be fully extracted.  Now, anyone who knows me might think:  “Bean is sitting still for 15 minutes?!!!”.   But it does give me a moment to catch up on world news.

Small but serviceable Honey Extraction Room

Waiting On the Extractor

The newspaper in the shot is  the Guardian Weekly.  Which, if you’ve not read it is a brilliant newspaper that combines the Guardian, the Washington Post and Le Monde.


It took me four days to uncap and extract this year’s honey.  Each 20-frame load took nearly 2 hours to prepare, and fifteen minutes to extract.  Which is an inspiration to search for a nice, small, decapping machine.  So if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.


It started raining when I started extracting, over 2 weeks ago.  Since then we’ve had 2 days of nice weather.  During that time I ran around to all the hives to start to prepare them for winter (and grumbled about the weather). More on that in the next post – the preparation, not the grumbling.

About Bean

I am the beekeeper at Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, near Maple Falls, Washington. My bees fly from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives in the foothills of Mt. Baker (the second most glaciated volcano in Washington). I sell the raw honey my bees make, as well as honey produced by Washington beekeepers who are friends - the emphasis is on raw honey from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives. I also make and sell Beeswax Salves. You can find me at the Ballard Farmers' Market in Seattle on Sundays from 10-3. When not with the bees, you'll most likely meet me up some mountain trail, pinhole camera and digital camera slung over my shoulders, and my pack goats trailing behind me.
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