Queen Village Neighbors Association recently awarded our garden a $5000 grant to purchase equipment for the Honey House. Items identified were an extractor, decapping tub, shelves and a multipurpose workbench. The shelves will be installed on the west side of the Honey House and will replace the shed where we currently store our bee equipment.
The decapping tub and extractor mean we no longer have to travel to Delaware to extract the honey. The workbench will provide an indoor space to work on garden maintenance projects. Space will also be available for early seed plantings. Our new equipment arrived February 12, 2012, and we have begun the work of assembling it.The bees cap each frame of honey with beeswax in the process of converting nectar to honey — we cannot extract the honey until we remove the wax cappings. The decapping tub and a special hot knife allow us to do this.
The extractor is a cylindrical stainless steel drum inside of which are baskets arranged in a radial fashion. Each basket holds a frame filled with honey. The frames spin around and around in the extractor’s revolving drum. This creates a centrifugal force which causes the honey to separate from the comb and flow to the bottom of the extractor.
We strain the honey as it flows out of the bottom via a honey gate and into a honey bucket. After the honey settles for several days, it is ready to be put in jars.
After the honey is extracted, the frames with comb are returned to the bees for refilling. Beekeepers regard these empty combs as “white gold” because they allow the bees to get right back to work manufacturing more honey rather than having to spend time and energy laying down new comb.