22 Practical Tips For Using A Honey Extractor

Closeup image of a honey extractor in a honey room

Whether you’re a seasoned expert or new to beekeeping, there’s always something new to learn. We’ve gathered some handy tips for using a honey extractor to help you get the best possible results.

  1. Keep the extractor clean: A clean machine will reduce pests and prevent contamination of your latest harvest. Get our quick guide on how to clean a honey extractor here.
  2. Choose a suitable extractor: If you’re processing a lot of frames, consider an electric radial model, as they’re ideal for big apiaries. Hand-crank models are good for small bee yards, locations without power, and beekeepers who enjoy the old-school way of extracting honey. Also read our advice on electric vs. manual honey extractors here. Otherwise, get the best honey extractors for beginners here.
  3. Start small: Hobbyist beekeepers just getting started are much better off with a small-capacity machine. They’re easier to learn with, and you can upgrade as the operation grows.
  4. Extract on warm days: Temperature impacts honey viscosity, so choose a warm day to spin frames. Unseasonal chilly weather will slow extraction times. 
  5. Ensure the honey has matured: Capped honeycomb is a good indicator that the honey’s moisture content is low enough for harvesting. For more accurate results, invest in one of our recommended honey refractometers.
  6. Select the right jars: Use containers for your honey that are durable, free from odors, non-reactive, hygienic, and tight sealing. Dark materials that don’t let the light in will keep the honey fresh longer but aren’t ideal if you sell the product.
  7. Always label: If you intend to sell the honey, label the jars with the bottling date and honey origin. This quick step helps identify potential quality issues and keep track of the best batches.
  8. Buy an uncapping knife: A heated uncapping knife makes quick work of slicing off the cappings. While other utensils, like a bread knife, will work, they aren’t as effective as a purpose-built tool.
  9. Keep the cappings: Don’t waste the wax cappings removed during the uncapping process. Collect them in a tray and then melt them down later for wax.
  10. Use a cappings spinner: If you’re dealing with a large quantity of honey, consider using a cappings spinner to recover honey from the wax cappings.
  11. Evenly placem frames: Place frames in a balanced pattern when loading them into the extractor.
  12. Gradually start spinning: Don’t start spinning too fast, as it can damage the comb. Start slowly and build momentum for best results.
  13. Check equipment before use: Ensure your honey extractor is clean and in good condition. Any dirt, debris, or rust will contaminate the honey.
  14. Straining is essential: Straining honey removes any bits of wax or debris, resulting in a purer product. Extractors have a honey gate at the bottom of the barrel for pouring honey through a strainer and into a bucket.
  15. Consider honey types: Honey from different flower sources has distinct color and flavor. Process them separately if you have frames with varying honey varieties.
  16. Extractor maintenance: Regularly check your extractor for wear and tear and fix any issues immediately to maintain efficiency.
  17. Secure the extractor: As extractors spin, they tend to move across the floor. Try placing bags of sand next to the machine or use tie-down straps to keep it in place.
  18. Safe power usage: If your honey extractor is electric, plug it into a grounded outlet and keep water or other liquids away from the power source to prevent electrical shocks.
  19. Follow manufacturer instructions: Take time to read the manufacturer’s instructions for guidelines on setup, operation, cleaning, and maintenance.
  20. Wear appropriate clothing: Avoid baggy clothing that can get caught in the extractor during operation. This advice also applies to jewelry or long hair that should be tied up.
  21. Check extension cords: If using extension cords with an electric extractor, ensure they are in good condition and rated for the appliance’s power needs. Avoid placing them in areas where they might become a tripping hazard.
  22. Use proper storage: When not used, store the extractor in a safe, clean, and dry location. This prevents pests like ants and wax moths from visiting your honey room.

If you enjoyed these tips, check out our in-depth guide on honey extraction using an extractor. There’s a helpful video showing you everything you need to know to get started.

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