Earlier this year, I posted about how to make an inexpensive honey extractor. Here's the improved version and it is still inexpensive to make -- under $85.
This summer, I created a honey extractor using bicycle rims as the primary component. For a variety of reasons, it just didn't work and I found myself with uncapped honey frames and no way to extract the honey.
Well desperation is the mother of invention; with just some wire mesh and a metal paint stirrer I was able to create a two-frame extractor that did a pretty good job (see below). The original posting on the project can be found at this link: How to build a Honey Extractor for Twenty-Eight Dollars.
The only drawbacks to this design were that it held only two frames, and I needed to hold the drill and honey extractor while in operation; since filled frames are rather heavy, this solution only worked when harvesting small quantities.
An Improved Honey Extractor
In this posting I'll tell you how to build an improved honey extractor that will hold four to six frames of honey and is still very easy to use. In this version, the extractor is made using an 18 inch plywood round, a threaded rod, some bolts and washers to fit on the threaded rod, wire mesh, a wooden crossbeam, a piece of plastic cutting board, Camcote epoxy and some zip ties. All these are readily available at the hardware store.
I didn't add up the costs for all these materials, but it's probably under $25 to build the interior component of the extractor. You can use any container larger than 18 inches to collect the honey during extraction. If you have some sort of container already, then the whole project will cost you just $25.
In my case, I decided to buy a used 55-gallon food grade barrel, a 24" plywood round that serves as a cover, 2 screen door handles, and honey gate. These add an additional $60. If you decide to add all this, you have a complete honey extractor for under $85. Not too bad really.
Here's how to Build the Extractor
- Drill a hole in the center of the plywood round. The diameter of the hole should be the same as the diameter of your threaded rod. The length of the threaded rod will vary depending on what type of barrel or container you will be using to collect the honey and the amount of rod you have underneath the plywood round. Adjust based on what materials you are using. In my case, I have about 5 inches of rod under the plywood round and 28 inches above it.
- Place the threaded rod through this hole and secure it to the plywood using a washer and a nut on either side of the plywood. You want the rod to pass through the plywood and extend beyond it by about 5 inches or more. The actual amount will depend on your barrel size, so adjust accordingly. The greater the height of the rod beneath the plywood, the more honey you will be able to collect before draining it from the barrel or other container. (note: screwing the washer and nut on from the bottom is fairly quick, but from the top down will take a while. You'll need patience.)
- Screw a nut cap like the one shown below on the bottom of the threaded rod.
- Now cut wire mesh so that it is 21 inches high.
- Bend one piece of 21" high wire mesh into a cylinder that is 12 inches in diameter. Connect the ends using zip ties.
- Place the 12-inch diameter cylinder on top and in the center of the plywood round. Mark the circumference of the circle with a pencil.
- You will now create holes that will allow you to connect this cage to the plywood round. You do this by drilling holes into the plywood that allow you to hold down the bottom wire of the mesh cage using zip ties. To do this, drill 4 sets of two holes. Each set of holes should be on opposite sides of the circle you drew that corresponds to the circumference of the center cage. You should place the 4 sets of holes at roughly even intervals around the circumference. (See below)
- Place the cage into the center of the plywood round.
- Thread zip ties through one hole, over the bottom wire of the cage and through the second hole.
- Now connect the zip tie so that it holds the wire to the plywood round. Do this for all four sets of holes. The center cage should now be held securely to the plywood round.
- Now make another mesh cylinder that 18 inches in diameter using the plywood round as a guide.
- Connect this mesh cage to the plywood round using a staple gun to secure it to the outside of edge of the plywood.
- Cut a wooden crossbar so that it's 18 inches.
- Drill a hole of the same diameter as your threaded rod in the center of the crossbar and two holes of smaller diameter at either end.
- Attach the crossbar to the top of the mesh cages by passing it over the rod and attaching it using zip ties as shown below. (You'll want to pass the crossbar under the top wire of the 12 inch diameter cage, or alternatively, push down the wire a little so that the crossbar passes over it.)
- Now coat the metal and wood components of the extractor with Camcote. This is food grade epoxy that deters rust and seals wood. You can get it at BrushyMountain or other bee supply store.
- When planning this project, I felt that I would need additional stability for the honey frames and cut slots into the plywood round which would allow me to insert the top tab of the frame into the plywood (see below). After completing this project, I don't believe this is necessary. But if you decide to also create these, you should add them after drilling the hole for the threaded rod. You cut a total of 8 slots (2 for each of four frames. You need two slots per frame because during harvesting you will invert the frames to draw out honey from each side). To make these slots, mark their location on the plywood round and use a drill to do the preliminary cutting. Then use a chisel to clean up the slot.
- The container for your extractor is also easy to make. You just need to cut a hole in the side of the barrel that is the appropriate diameter to accommodate whatever honey gate you purchase.
- Since I used a barrel and the plastic is fairly thin, I reinforced the area where the threaded rod would sit on the bottom of the barrel. I did this by cutting a piece of plastic cutting board and bolting this piece to the inside bottom of the barrel using four nuts and bolts. You can get cutting boards from anyplace that sells kitchenware.
- Use Camcote to cover and seal the nuts.
- I used a 24 inch plywood round for a cover. I drilled a hole in the center to accommodate the threaded rod.
Using the Extractor
- Place uncapped frames between the inner and outer mesh cages.
- Use a drill to spin the threaded rod, being careful not to run the drill so fast as to rip the wax foundation from your frames. Centrifugal force will cause the honey to spin out of the comb and onto the sides of the barrel. The honey will then run down the sides and collect at the bottom.
- When the first side of the frame is empty, turn the frame around so that the second side of the frame faces outward.
- Use the drill to extract the second side.
- Drain honey from the extractor into your straining bucket when the level of the honey rises to the point where it is touching the bottom of the plywood round.
Now just bottle and enjoy your honey!
If you like this project, let me know by leaving a comment.