It’s always exciting when you know the hive is ready for you to extract those first frames of honey. Before you take them from the hive, though, you need to know which method you will use to extract the honey.
The cheapest way to extract honey is by using gravity and letting the honey drip from the frame. This method virtually has no cost as it needs only a few tools, some of which you probably already have. It is much cheaper than purchasing an extractor.
The Drip Method To Extract Honey
The drip method is ideal if you have only one or two frames to extract and plenty of time to allow the honey to drip out – it can take up to 24 hours for the honey to fully drain out! The rate at which the honey drips depends on the floral source of the nectar. Some nectar doesn’t flow as easily as others.
Drip honey extraction involves uncapping the honey and letting the honey drip out onto a large, clean tray. Once one side of the frame is empty, you can turn it over, so the other side starts to drain.
When I first started beekeeping and honey extraction, I used to remove the capping and cut the comb out of the frame. I would then put the comb into the sieve to let it drip into a clean food grade bucket.
However, since then, I’ve realized that it is much better to keep the comb intact so you can return it to the hive for the bees to use. By cutting out the comb, I had to clean the frame and put in new wax for the bees to draw out. Also, the honey in the cut comb would pile into the sieve, and the honey didn’t drip out as easily as the one left in the comb.
What You’ll need:
- Large food-grade bucket with a honey gate.
- Fine sieve to filter honey.
- Uncapping knife, comb, or roller.
- Clean tray/s with raised sides. It should be large enough to hold a frame of capped honey.
How Do You Drip Honey? – Step By Step
- Select capped frame/s of honey you wish to harvest and store in a container with a lid to keep bees away.
- Using an uncapping knife, comb, or roller, remove the capping from one side of the frame. Put newspaper under the frame or do the extraction over a sink.
- Place the frame on the tray and allow it to drip for up to 24 hours.
- Turn the frame over and uncap the second side, again onto the newspaper or over the sink.
- Allow the second side to drip out (up to 24 hours).
- Drain the accumulated honey from the tray through a sieve placed over a clean food-grade bucket, ideally with a honey gate at the bottom.
- Store the empty frame in a lidded tub so you can return it to the hive for the bees to use again.
How To Know If This Method Is For You
If you are practicing beekeeping only as a hobby and have (or will have) a couple of hives in your apiary, then the drip method of honey extraction is your ideal choice.
It’s also a suitable method if you have plenty of time to allow the honey to drip out. You can leave it to drain and forget about it for 24-48 hours. It’s economical because you don’t need expensive equipment, just a sieve, a large food-grade bucket, some large trays, and an uncapping knife, comb, or roller.
Some of these things you may have at home already. I have used large knives to remove the capping by heating them up in boiling water. This made removing the capping easier. You probably also have a fine sieve at home that you can use to filter the honey. However, it’s good to have one only for this purpose because it will become sticky with honey and wax capping.
An extractor is very expensive and really not needed if you only have one or two frames to extract. You won’t use it more than a few times in a year. Besides, it’s also something you can hire cheaply from your local beekeeping club.
The drip method of honey extraction is an excellent method for those who want to keep bees just as a hobby. You don’t need expensive equipment, just time to allow the honey to drip.
It also keeps the comb intact so you can return the frame/s to the hive for the bees to clean up. It’s better for the bees and less mess for you to clean up!