After using a honey extractor, it will have a coating of honey on the inside of the barrel. Washing up this mess is easy work using a hose with cold water.
But some beekeepers don’t want to waste the residual honey, and if there’s messy wax, it’ll take more effort to remove. This guide runs through how to clean a honey extractor so that no honey gets wasted.
Cleaning a honey extractor – 5 steps
Step 1: Remove leftover honey
To get a honey extractor looking like new again, the first step is removing any leftover honey. It is perfectly edible and may also be used for making mead!
Close the valve or honey gate and tilt the unit so that any liquid pools in one spot. Leave it overnight and allow the honey to drain. You’ll get the best results by setting the room’s heating at a high temperature, reducing the honey’s viscosity.
Collect any honey in a container the next day and run it through a sieve.
Step 2: Wash off any propolis and wax
The overnight draining won’t remove any solid materials stuck to the barrel’s inner walls. To clean off unwanted wax and propolis, start by leveling the extractor.
Next, close the gate or valve and fill the unit with cold water. Leave it overnight before emptying the next day. Rinse with cold water and use a rubber spatula to scrape off stubborn wax.
A final wiping down with a cloth gets the extractor looking sparkling clean.
Step 3: Clean the outside
The outside of the honey extractor is usually much easier to clean. Use a damp cloth and cold water to remove dust and honey spills.
Step 4: Dry the machine
Placing a damp extractor into storage could encourage mold. Instead, allow the machine to air dry first. If you’re short on time, a hairdryer set on low heat will speed up the drying process.
Step 5: Storage
Store honey extractors in a cool, dry place away from too much foot traffic. You don’t want this expensive equipment to get damaged in the off-season.
Covering the machine to keep dust and bugs away is also a good idea. Sheets or plastic both work well.
Tips for washing a honey extractor
- If you’re short on time and don’t want the remaining honey, a high-pressure hose will quickly clean up the extractor.
- Always clean beekeeping equipment like honey extractors with cold water. Hot water causes the wax to melt and smear, making cleanup trickier. Cool water makes the wax brittle, causing it to flake off easier.
- Avoid leaving the extractor outside for bees to clean up. It may encourage robbing and spread disease.
- If your extractor’s lower bearings are exposed, cover them with cling wrap during washing.
- If you don’t have access to a heater during overnight honey removal, consider investing in a home brew heating belt or pad. They give off a constant low heat and can be left on for long periods.
Interesting reading: What are the best honey extractors for beginners.
Honey extractor maintenance
Minimal maintenance is required unless you own a commercial honey extractor with many moving parts. You’re best to read the manufacturer’s instructions to be safe.
Check the gearbox and bearings are in good condition. Most units don’t need lubricating with grease or oil.
Ensure the honey gate is still working well, including the pivot screw. This area is one of the more common problems for extractors.
Watch the video
This video runs through a quick way to wash a honey extractor.
Honey extractors aren’t cheap, so keeping them clean and well maintained is worth the effort. They’ll work better and have an extended life.
There are other important reasons to keep an extractor clean. Leftover wax and honey will encourage pests like wax moths to visit your bee room. You’ll also help spread bee diseases if you don’t adhere to a strict cleaning schedule after each use.
Thankfully, cleanup isn’t a huge challenge. Keep everything clean, and you’ll enjoy delicious liquid honey for many years.
If you enjoyed this article, also read our practical tips for using a honey extractor.