The invention of the honey extractor was one of the great advances in beekeeping of the mid-1800s. The honey extractor was developed shortly after Philadelphia pastor L. L. Langstroth built the first modern bee hive. The hive, built around the concept of bee space that Langstroth had observed in nature, held removable frames of honeycomb. With removable frames, the honey could be extracted in a convenient and nondestructive manner. Earlier methods of collecting honey involved cutting or breaking pieces of honeycomb from the colony’s nest in a hollow log or a bee skep made of straw. The honey was obtained by mashing the honeycomb and squeezing out the honey. The method was effective for collecting honey and beeswax, but it destroyed the honeycomb. The honey obtained was often of lesser quality as well, because the comb likely held some brood. Using removable frames and a honey extractor, the beekeeper could harvest honey and save the honeycomb for reuse by the bees in the following year. Reusing the honeycomb saves the bees a considerable amount of time required to draw-out new honeycomb. Also, a great amount of resources in honey must be consumed to rebuild the next honeycomb. For the bees to produce one ounce of beeswax, they consume one pound of honey.
In today’s photo frames of honey spin in the Peace Bee Farm honey extractor. The beeswax cappings covering the honey have been cut away using a sharp knife and scratching tool. Centrifugal force pulls the honey from the open cells of the honeycomb. As the honey flows from the extractor, it is strained of flecks of beeswax and any foreign matter. Traces of pollen remain in the honey. The honey is collected and sealed in honey pails to be bottled as needed. Each pail of honey is sampled for taste and aroma, and the honey’s moisture content is measured. Bee yard, nectar source, date collected, honey color, and weight are recorded.--Richard