Extracting honey used to be quite a heavy and tedious task.
A honey extractor is a gadget that has made the process of obtaining honey much easier and simpler. The traditional way of extracting honey in the old times was to squeeze the honeycomb to separate the honey from the wax. But thanks to advances in technology, modern appliances such as honey extractors have eliminated the heavy and tedious work.
This device removes honey by applying a centrifugal force. The use of this appliance also prevents the wax from being destroyed, and the bees could reuse the frames of the honeycomb.
Before we go further to see how honey is extracted, let’s look at the main gadgets needed for this process:
1. Electric uncapping knife (or uncapping fork)
2. Honey extractor
3. Honey ripener fitted with a honey strainer.
Now it’s time to look at the step-by-step process of extracting honey.
1) First, the honey frame is removed by tipping it slightly forward so that the capping falls away easily when it is cut.
2) Next, the wax cappings are removed using the electric uncapping knife/fork, starting from the bottom of the comb upwards. Once one side is uncapped, the same technique is used to remove the wax cappings on the other side.
Note: It is important to use an uncapping knife that is sharp, clean and heated before you start the extraction process to avoid honey from sticking to the blade.
3) The uncapped comb is then placed vertically on the honey extractor. Honey is extracted by spinning the comb, forcing the honey out of the cells.
It’s good to warm the extractor before using it (by washing it with boiling water, for instance), as honey that is kept warm is more fluid and can be extracted more easily.
4) The handle is turned, slowly at first and gradually increasing the speed gradually. This has to be done carefully to avoid the combs from being cracked or forced out of the frames.
It takes around 5 minutes to extract one side of the comb. Honey extraction is done one side at a time, so when one side is completely extracted, the frames are taken out to extract the other side. Some extractors are designed with a reversing gear to make it easier to extract the other side of the comb.
5) When extracting is complete, honey should be allowed to flow into a ripener. In the ripener, honey will be filtered through a strainer to allow wax, air bubbles, and other particles or impurity to rise to the surface. Honey will usually be left in the ripener for 4 or 5 days before putting it into bottles or jars.
There is one type of honey, however, known as heather honey that is usually obtained from Scotland and Northern England which is really thick and dense and cannot be extracted from the combs using the same method as other varieties of honey. For this particular honey variety, extra pressure needs to be applied using a special press that squeezes the honeycomb to extract the honey.
Honey that is obtained immediately after extraction is known to have the best flavor and color. Extracted honey may be divided into two categories, for table use, and for manufacturing or commercial purposes. For large-scale business or marketing purposes, honey producers will still carry out required processing before selling the honey.