Extraction tips

by Peter Mathews

Granulated Combs

Everyone has told you how important it is to move quickly when extracting honey from oil seed rape. This sets rock hard within a short time of lifting supers from the hive. If you leave things too long it will eventually set in the comb. So once you have taken the supers off, you must extract straight away.

Okay, so you watched the World Cup instead! And, now you are stuck with combs of granulated honey. You can try extracting but will probably be wasting your time. You can try leaving it in the hive but will be lucky if the bees even look at it. The books suggest melting the comb down with a steamer, or uncapping tray, to separate wax and honey – and, you don’t have either of these. So just what do you do?

You can feed granulated OSR honey back to the bees. Soak the frames in a bucket of water and place the super of wet comb underneath the brood box – suggest using a spare queen excluder here. The bees won’t like stores under the brood and will move it upstairs when you can reclaim the empty super.

(If there is not too much granulation then just spray them with water and give the super back to the bees for them to clear out – advice courtesy of St Albans BKA)

No Jars!

The first thing one learns in beekeeping is ‘Think Ahead’. Most of us keep a spare box or two of jars up in the loft just in case we have a bumper year. An alternative, or as well as, are 7lb or 14lb or larger honey buckets. These are cheap and invaluable for storing extra honey until you have time to bottle up. Next time order more jars !

Don’t Overload Your Extractor !

You have loads of supers full the brim with honey. It is so easy to get carried away with extracting as the honey, which collects at the bottom. But, remember to run it off at regular intervals! Most extractors with full capacity of honey are really heavy. This can be embarrassing if you have an extractor you can’t lift, sitting flush on the floor where you can’t run the honey off!

Gate Valves

Your extractor and settling tank are fitted with simple plastic or metal gate valves. In the closed position the gate is held against a rubber O – ring seal. When running off honey into jars the gate is slackened off. This can allow honey to creep across the O – ring and drip down the sides of the valve. This results in sticky jars which then need cleaning up. The solution is to use light finger pressure to hold the gate against the seal when the valve is open. This maintains the seal and the honey goes in the jar and doesn’t dribble down the outside.