Honey Extraction 2023

Extraction of honey from the club’s supers is planned to be undertaken during Saturday 5th August in the Henfold Pavilion, managed by Iain Oliver & Neil Holden.

New and new’ish members are strongly encouraged to participate and learn, not just how to extract honey, but also how to prepare for a hygienic & efficient operation, and how to effectively clean equipment and facilities afterwards. Members with some practical experience will also be required to guide novices please.

  • Set-up needs to start during Friday the 4th and be completed early the following morning.
  • During Saturday, experienced hands will then be needed to run a number of ‘work stations’ and mentor less, or inexperienced, participants in procedures and use of the equipment.
  • Cleaning and clearing up and away can commence once all RBKA’s supers have been processed, with Sunday 6th remaining an additional day to complete the cleaning if needed to return the pavilion to sticky-less general use. 

For the main activity on Saturday, participants will be expected to sign up for a full day of activity, from 9:30am until the extraction is competed and if time permits some clearing-up can commence … until some time around 5pm. Drinks provided, but bring a packed lunch.

All offers of help and participate to both Iain & Neil please.
Either provide your name and contact details during preceding Wednesday evenings or send them an  email message.  cottageinthewood@hotmail.com   &  neil.theholdens@gmail.com

RBKA OnLine No.14 – Recorded: Honey Extraction.

Video recording of the presentation by Andrew Cornwall of arrangements and equipment used in harvesting honey from the division’s hives: inc Q&A’s that followed.

… from the online Zoom group conference on Wednesday 22nd July 2020

End of 2019 Season – Quartermasters Service

Wednesday 7th August

Wednesday 14th September

Wednesday 28th August

Wednesday 25th September

Place orders and make current year price enquiries with Maggie Bourne during Wednesday evening meetings or by phone: 07714 984133, or email: mb@thebournes.co.uk

Payment in full is required to confirm all Orders please.



1lb/454g      Without Lids (P)           tbc (£14.70 /72 in 2018)
1lb/454g      With Lids                      tbc (£22.40 /72 in 2018)

12oz/340g   Without Lids (P)           tbc (£17.65 /72 in 2018)
12oz/340g   With 63mm Lids           tbc (£25.90 /72 in 2018)

8oz/227g     Without Lids (P)            tbc (£17.65 /72 in 2018)
8oz/227g     With 63mm Lids           tbc (£25.90 /72 in 2018)

190ml          Without lids (Wh)         tbc (£24.00 /96 in 2018)
190ml           With 63mm Lids           tbc (£34.10 /96 in 2018)


12oz/340g   With 63mm Lids (Wh)  tbc (£32.70 /84 in 2018)

8oz/227g     With 58mm Lids (Wh)  tbc (£14.20 /36 in 2018)

4oz/110g     With 48mm Lids (P)      tbc (£17.30 /72 in 2018)


Wednesday 7th August


Extractor         Metal,  6 Frame,  Manual  (1 off)
Extractor         Plastic, 9 Frame,  Electric  (1 off)
Extractor         Metal, 9 Frame,   Electric  (3 off)

Wax Melter     Brood Box Steamer          (1 off)
Wax Melter     70 Ltr Wax Steamer          (1 off)

Plastic Settling Tank(s)                        (various)

Deposit of £20 per item, refunded only if Equipment is Returned ON TIME and CLEAN.
Hire fee of £10 per item/week, Wednesday to Wednesday.


Wednesday 14th September


MAQS Strips               2 Hives                 tbc (£14.30 in 2018)
MAQS Strips            10 Hives                  tbc (£54.70 in 2018)

APIGUARD                 5 Hives                  tbc (£20.40 in 2018)
APIGUARD                  1 Hive                   tbc (£ 4.10 in 2018)

B.S. Eke                                                     tbc (£ 7.80 in 2018)

API LIFE VAR (w)          1 Hive                   tbc (£ 2.20 in 2018)

THYMOVAR                 5 Hives                 tbc (£22.80 in 2018)


ACETIC ACID              1 ltr                     tbc (£17.55 in 2018)

CERTAN                                                 tbc (£14.00 in 2018)

HIVE ALIVE               100ml                   tbc (£16.15 in 2018)
HIVE ALIVE               500ml                   tbc (£63.65 in 2018)


Nitrile               Standard (JG)          tbc (£4.00 /100 in 2018)
Nitrile               Long Cuff (JG)          tbc (£5.50 / 50 in 2018)

Latex                  Opaque (JG)            tbc (£3.50 /100 in 2018)


Wednesday 28th August


Wednesday 25th September
ONLY from HENFOLD COPSE Between 6.00pm and 8.00pm
Collections may be made on any Wednesday Evening up to 25th September

Flow Hive – Break Through or, Gimmick

Flow™-Hive-Full-Reveal-YouTube-262x262The “Flow Hive” is a huge internet sensation that during 2015 raised almost $AUS 13M in crowd funding for the development of a new concept in hive design.

Funding has come primarily from non beekeepers, who have always been fascinated by the promise of a hive from which liquid honey could be directly taken, without the need for actually handling bees.

Jack Chapman provides his opinions …

  [Read more…]

Extracting Your Honey

Extracting the HoneyUnless you are fortunate enough to have a purpose built extraction room, honey extraction usually takes place in the kitchen or, in the shed.

Before starting, the floor will need protection from the inevitable drips of honey and the odd pieces of sticky wax and propolis. Newspaper is suitable for this, or sheets of cardboard, or any other absorbent material that will soak up any spillages. I use plastic sheeting which can be mopped and used again each year.

Honey Extraction Room

When processing a food like honey, hygiene should be your first priority. Wear a clean overall or apron to protect you from the honey but, most of all the honey from you!  All utensils should be made from stainless steel, or food grade polythene, and water should be on hand to wash sticky fingers (best to wear disposable nitrile gloves) and knives etc. (Read more on “Hygiene Regulations” when extracting & bottling honey). When the supers are brought in, an upturned hive roof or tray is useful to stand them in, to catch any drops from fractured combs. A second tray/roof is required, and a spare super to receive the wet frames following extraction. An uncapping utensil is required. This is usually a heated (electrically or, via a hot water tray) uncapping knife or, an uncapping fork. It’s easier if you use a heated knife, it slides through the wax easier, with fewer cappings clinging to it. If you use a water heated knife, it should be wiped dry before each use, to avoid adding any excess moisture to the honey. Some people like to uncap running the knife upwards, and some prefer downwards, but which ever way is preferred, great care should be taken to keep fingers and hands guarded. The frame is uncapped holding one of the lugs, while the other one is rested in a non‐slip position on the uncapping tray. An uncapping tray is a very useful device when dealing with several supers, but if only two or three are involved, then a smaller receptacle, such as a large tray or a meat dish, will suffice. If you haven’t done it before, it will be stickier than you think, as you can see from this short video:

The uncapping process involves running the knife just under the cappings, removing as little as possible, in order that there are not masses of cappings to deal with later, and the thickest comb possible can be returned to the bees. In selecting the combs for uncapping one invariably finds that not all the cells are capped. The reason for this is that the bees have not been given sufficient time to reduce the moisture content adequately, and if too much of this is included in the extracted honey, we run the risk of fermentation in our stored honey. A general rule of thumb is that if the frame is seventy five per cent capped, and when held horizontally no honey shakes out from the unsealed cells, then it is ripe enough to extract. If however, a large part of the frame is unsealed, or, honey does shake out, then any such frames should be placed in a separate super, and returned to the bees for them to complete the work. This might result in the bees using this honey themselves, but that is much better than ending up with buckets of fermenting honey.

When loading the extractor, it is advisable to place consecutive frames on opposite sides of the extractor. Consecutive frames in the super are usually of a similar weight, and if the extractor is well balanced, it will prevent wobble during rotation.

There are two types of extractor, radial and tangential.

Top View of Frame Arrangement in Tangential vs Radial Extractors. Arrow Shows Direction of Force on the Frame

Top View of Frame Arrangement in Tangential vs Radial Extractors. Arrow Shows Direction of Force on the Frame

In a radial extractor, the frames are placed in position radiating from the centre like the spokes of a wheel, with the top bars furthest from the centre. Utilising the slight upward angle of the cells to the midrib of the comb, both sides of the frame can be extracted at the same time, using a slow rotation to begin with, and then speeding up as the combs empty and become lighter.

Using the tangential extractor involves placing the frames within a cage, where they rotate at a tangent to the centre. This results in greater centrifugal force being placed upon the honey in cells on the outer side of the comb, but the honey on the inner side is being forced against the midrib, and great care must be taken that the comb does not fracture or, “blow out” of the frame. The usual procedure is to rotate the first side slowly, and partially empty the cells, then turn the frames over, and fully empty the second side, then turn them back and complete the extraction of the first side.

The extracted honey can be run from the extractor into honey buckets. It will then need straining through a course strainer to remove any pieces of wax, and a straining cloth to remove minute particles of propolis etc. This process can be greatly facilitated by gently warming the honey for a few hours, when it will be liquid enough to pour straight through both mediums. It is then caught in a suitable receptacle, and allowed to stand for twenty four hours, to allow all the air bubbles obtained during the process, to rise to the surface, where they can be skimmed off. A honey tank, which incorporates a strainer at the top and a honey valve at the bottom, is ideal for this, but again, if smaller quantities are involved, then more manual solutions should be found. Kitchen strainers can be useful in these circumstances. The honey can then be either bottled, or run into clean honey buckets to be stored for bottling as required (remember most honey granulates and reheating sealed, labelled, honey jars to return the honey to its liquid state is not recommended!

The cappings can then be dealt with, as there is usually a substantial quantity of honey left in them, and the wax itself is valuable. If a small amount is involved, then once again the colander or kitchen strainer can be utilised to drain the honey from the cappings. This can be achieved by leaving to drain over night, in a warm room, into a suitable receptacle. This honey should be processed in a similar manner to that which came from the extractor. The remaining cappings can be spread out on a tray, and placed over the crownboard of a hive, where the bees will come up through the feed holes, and clear all traces of honey, leaving dry particles of beeswax which can be taken away and rendered. If an uncapping tray is being used, the cappings should be left on the tray for twenty‐four hours, for as much honey as possible to drain away.

Pollen in Super

Pollen in Super

At this point two anomalies should be considered. One concerns pollen and the other granulated honey. Most of our bees do not follow the rule of putting pollen only in the brood chamber. Invariably, we find some stored amongst the honey in the supers. This is not a huge problem, as the pollen doesn’t usually spin out during the extraction process, but it does sometimes have the effect of unbalancing the extractor, causing the machine to wobble during rotation. This can be overcome by moving frames around to rebalance the load.

Granulated combs are a rather more difficult problem to deal with. It’s usually discovered during the uncapping process, and sometimes involves a part of the comb, and sometimes the entire frame. When granulation in a frame is discovered, you need to consider which is most valuable to you?…… the honey or the comb. If there is only a little granulated honey in an otherwise extractable frame, then you might decide to extract what is possible, and return the rest to the bees. If, on the other hand, the bulk of the comb is granulated, then the honey might be considered more valuable than the comb. The only realistic way of then harvesting this honey is by the use of a heated uncapping tray. The entire comb is cut out of the frame and placed on the tray, where both honey and wax will melt and run into the separator.

When extracting is finished, you will be left with supers of very sticky frames. These are best dealt with by returning them to their original hives for the bees to clean up. This is best done close to dusk when the bees have finished flying for the day, the roof can be removed, and wet supers stacked above the crownboard, so that the bees can come up through the feed holes, clean up our wet frames, and take any honey they can glean, back down into the hive. During this process care must be taken not initiate robbing (you really don’t want this to happen). A crownboard should be placed on top of the wet supers, with the feed holes covered, and any gaps or loose joints in the supers should be sealed. The entrance to the hive should be reduced, to make it easier to defend against opportunistic robbers. The supers can be left in place for two or three days, depending on the number of supers to be cleaned, and the strength of the colony doing the job. After this, they can once again be cleared of bees, and taken away to be stacked & stored for the winter.

Clearer Boards

One Way for BeesBefore taking honey supers away from a hive, the bees need to be “cleared” from the supers. This needs to be done in a way which causes minimal disturbance to the colony and avoids prompting bees to go robbing nearby hives.

If only one super needs to be cleared of bees, shake and brush the bees from each frame on to a ramp placed in front of the hive, this allows the bees to run back in through the hive entrance.

However, an easier way to clear bees from a super (and particularly if you need to clear more than 1 super) is to use a “clearer board”. Before using the clearer board, assess the frames in each super. If there are still a few unsealed frames remove these, consolidate them into a separate super box and put this super directly over the queen excluder. Delay clearing supers until the nectar flow is finished and the last box of consolidated frames is sealed.

When you are ready to clear bees from all the supers in the stack, put an empty super immediately above the queen excluder to provide room for the clearing bees.The clearer board should be placed above the empty super and below the bottom super of the stack you wish to clear. Once the clearer board has been inserted, and the hive rebuilt, it’s important to ensure that the bees cannot gain access to the supers from the outside. Any small gaps in the supers should be sealed, and it’s often good insurance to run some parcel tape around the joints. The feed holes in the top crownboard should be covered, as it is not unheard of, for the bees to find a way up under the roof. The hive can then be left alone for the bees to be cleared. The bees will find their way down through the clearer board to join their queen and brood below. You can later remove the super(s) to a bee-proof area to await extraction. The timing of this is a function of the size of the colony, the number of supers to be cleared and the type of clearer board being used. If you find the bees just refuse to leave a super, check for the presence of brood in the super!

There are several types of clearer board in use.

Crown Board – with Porter Bee Escapes

Clearer Board

Clearer Board with 2 Porter Bee Escapes

The most commonly used clearer board is a crown board with “Porter Bee Escapes” fitted into the “cut outs”. The board is placed under the super(s) to be cleared and above an eke placed over the brood box. The eke can be an empty  super and provides sufficient space to avoid “congestion” below the clearer board. The bees exit by entering the central “hole” in the plastic casing of the Porter escape and push their way between the springs, which close behind them. When using Porter Bee Escapes, careful attention should be paid to the springs before use. If the gap between the springs is too large (the gap should be 3mm wide) the bees will of course be able to return!

Porter Bee Escape

Porter Bee Escape

Also there is a tendency for the springs in the “escape’ to get propolised and stick, or for dead bees to block the way … so beware, it’s not always reliable. It may take 24-48 hours for the bees to clear the super(s). Porter Bees Escapes can be left in place for a long time without the problem of the bees re-accessing the super(s).


  1. Canadian Clearer Board 

Canadian Clearer Board

Canadian Clearer Board

The Canadian board contains 4-5 plastic cone inserts. The image to the left shows the underside of the board. This is the side which is placed over the top of the empty super/eke. The reverse side is a flat board with 4-5 holes, under which sit the cones. The bees in the supers descend on to the flat board and easily find the exit holes into the cones. It is highly effective in rapidly clearing bees but , it is a single function board i.e. it cannot double as a crown board. If the board is left in place for more than a few hours (typically within 4-6 hours) the bees do eventually work out how to re-enter the cones to access the supers again. Please note: very few clearer boards are 100% effective. Inevitably a few bees refuse to leave the supers. Consequently, the best time to remove  “cleared”  supers to your extraction (or, storage) room is close to dusk. The supers can be opened and bees will fly to the light in a window. If the window is opened the bees will return to the hive……you may need to eject stragglers! However, they will share with the rest of the colony directions to your honey supers…hence the operation is best performed close to dusk when few bees are flying.

2. The Rhombus Maze

Top Side of Rhombus Maze Board. Shows bees entrance into the

Top Side of Rhombus Maze Board. Shows bees entrance into the “maze”.

Shows internals of  plastic

Shows internals of plastic “maze”. The exposed side is placed over the hole in the crown board & fixed in place on the screw heads shown. The 2 exits to the maze are at left & right ends.

The Rhombus Maze is usually supplied separately, to be used with a spare crown board. If you don’t have a spare crown board you will need to acquire one with a centre cut out for a Porter Bee Escape. If your board has a second cut out this needs to be blanked off. The plastic Rhombus Maze is fixed to the underside of the crown board and centred on the cut out in the board. Four small screws are required to fix the device to the board.

Once this has been completed the screws can be partially slackened and the device will slide into place over the screw heads. As with the Canadian board, the bees are typically cleared within 4-6 hours, depending on size of colony. Left for much longer the bees will figure out the way back through the maze into the super.

Extracting & Bottling Honey

2014 Extraction 09Make plans to extract honey. The first week in September is a traditional time but, sometimes honey is taken late Spring too, if good weather prevails.

Choose a warm day if possible. The extraction of warm honey will make the whole process easier Choose a suitable hygienic room which is bee proof (the smell of honey will attract every bee & wasp in the neighbourhood!) and cover the floor with newspapers or, plastic sheeting. Set out the equipment listed below.

Wash your hands and have a bowl of water and towel available.

For the whole procedure you will need:

  • Extraordinary care, otherwise honey will drip everywhere & create a very sticky environment!
  • The honey supers
  • The extractor
  • An uncapping knife
  • A bowl to hold the wax cappings
  • A board to rest the frames on whilst uncapping
  • A coarse meshed sieve/strainer to sift out wax particles from the extracted honey
  • A finer mesh sieve for smaller wax particles
  • A settling tank or large container (the extraction process creates lots of tiny air bubbles in the honey). These will eventually rise to the top where they can be skimmed off
  • Some jars and lids.

Firstly start by uncapping the combs using a bread knife or special forks/heated knives for this job. Secure the frame on the board over the bowl and with a sawing motion side to side the caps should fall into the bowl. Uncap both sides then transfer the frame to the extractor. A damp clean cloth is very handy throughout to mop up any drips and prevent too much sticky mess occurring!

Extractors are dustbin like containers which come in different sizes, can be manual or electric with a tap at the bottom to run the honey off from time to time. They are radial or tangential, both types use centrifugal force to empty the combs of honey. Load the frames to balance the weight in the extractor or it will move around the room when at speed. Keep an eye on the level of honey and run it off regularly.

It is useful to have help or a little production line as the extractor and buckets can become very heavy.

Coarse straining filters out pollen, wax, bee parts etc. stir occasionally to enable a steady flow and prevent clogging.

If you intend to sell the honey it is necessary to remove smaller pieces of wax and debris with a second filtering through a nylon mesh or muslin cloth, the honey needs to be kept warm to allow air bubbles to rise slowly (ripening) over 24 hours. If you only have one hive you may prefer to fill jars/bottles immediately after the honey has ripened. Beekeepers with more hives usually transfer ripened honey into food grade, plastic honey buckets. Jars can then be filled as needed. This can be advantageous where the honey harvest contains a rapidly granulating honey source such as rape seed oil….where you only bottle honey for immediate consumption.

If using for your own consumption any clean jar or container will do. Clean jars and lids with attractive labels will show the honey to its advantage.  Cleaning up is best done with copious amounts of cold water, and damp cloths for surfaces etc. Super frames can be returned to the hive for cleaning up by the bees or stored wet with honey securely covered in a safe place.