New and Improved Hillbilly Honey Extraction Method

July 6, 2012 · 11 comments

Remember how I explained our honey extraction method a couple weeks ago? Well…forget all that. We’ve got a new system, and it’s way faster and easier. As far as I know, this method was “invented” by Henry’s stepmom, Joanne, after Henry dropped off some chunk honey at her house a while back.  She’s a smart and creative lady, so I’m not surprised she figured out this simple extraction process.

To start off, Henry brought down a few frames mostly full of honey, and he cut the comb into chunks. (We did this on the front porch, so yeah, Henry is sitting on the edge of our clawfoot tub.)

The chunks went into a clean bowl, oozing already.

This is the potato ricer from the Coburg Antique Fair that I haven’t used since I bought it almost a year ago. I kind of love it and am glad that I now can justify keeping it around.

Henry loaded up the potato ricer…

…and squeezed…

…and squeezed some more. The honey probably would have been a little more free-flowing if it were warmer, but even so, most of it came right out of the comb. He let it drip for a while and then pulled out the little cake of crushed wax from the bottom of the ricer and started over.

Throughout the process, we all did a lot of finger licking.

It was a pretty messy operation, but doing it outside helped. After we were tired of letting things drip and drain, we just left all the sticky bowls and comb outside, and pretty soon, a big group of bees moved in to clean things up. A day later, I just had to scrub a little wax off everything, which was no big deal.

The golden honey (above left) is what’s left from our last extraction. It’s made from maple and wildflower nectar. The new honey (above right) is SO dark, but it’s delicious, too. I don’t know if I’m imagining it or not, but it has a little almost-molassesy flavor. Henry thinks it was made primarily from chittum/cascara (Rhamnus purshiana) nectar.

The potato-ricer extraction method does let little bits of wax in with the honey, so there’s a thin layer of waxy debris on top of the jar. Thankfully, it’s easy to skim off, so it’s not much of a problem. We got about a quart and a half from five partially-full frames. That should last us a while.


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

catie July 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm

oh, to be in the land of goat milk & honey : )


mae July 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I meant to write you last week when it arrived, but it’s been a craaaazy few days – thank you so much for the beeswax! I had fun experimenting with it for the few hours I’ve been home. I’m sending something your way soon.


Nea July 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm

That honey looks incredible! I wonder how it would taste in an oats & honey type of bread.


Sweet Harvest Moon July 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm

This is looks SO good!


Erin February 19, 2013 at 6:39 pm

You guys are so cool! Thanks for posting your two extracting methods. My husband is an arborist and cut down a tree today that had tons of bees and combs. He brought some home and we were trying to figure out the best way to get the honey out of the combs. Now we know! Thanks!


Michael May 19, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I tried your ricer on a hive I have found in a wall, and moved to a langstroth hive (my first!). it worked well, messy but fun! I have about a liter and a half from six of the combs, (very dark combs) and will continue tomorrow… my computer keyboard is a bit sticky though…


Cecile May 23, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Thanks so much or this awesome tip! We aren’t ready to full on extract our honey…The weather/rain has been brutal on the nectar flow! But we need to use some of our own honey to make some lip balm and hand cream…the will be the perfect way to extract a handful. Now I’m coveting your vintage potato ricer…sure the one I just ordered from bed, bath and beyond will get the job done, certainly won’t look as cute doing it though! Much appreciation!


Judy On Big Turtle Creek November 28, 2013 at 5:41 am

I love this post. It reminded me of my mother-in-law telling me about her grandmother running the combs of wild honey that Grandad would bring home through the ringer into the washtub. Your children and your blog are all beautiful! I can’t wait till we get bees again.


Dev May 28, 2014 at 11:11 am

I just let my comb drain, then take a kitchen scissor to them cutting bite size pieces, then when I get hungry for something sweet, I take a piece out of the bag, chew it till the honey is gone and what’s left is a little ball of wax, then I spit it out. It reminded me of those wax lips & coke a cola mini bottles we used to chew when we were kids!


Steve July 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm

This is very helpful, I live in nothern Marin County, CA & I put in my first hive this year (Easter). It’s been growing like crazy & I just added my third box. I was hoping to make the top box for us, honey only.

Do you use a queen excluder on your top box? If so, at what point should I put in. I am confused about how to keep certain frames “honey only” and the brood on other frames.

I plan to use your extraction method as I can’t see paying for one of those $200+ extractors.

Another topic I would be interested in if you need a blog topic. How to create a second hive. Can I create a second hive from the one I have now?




Lee August 27, 2014 at 6:22 pm

greetings from Australia…
I’m really pleased to have found your web site. I’ve been keeping bees in my backyard, on a farm, for a year now. I have 2 hives & am about to make a new nuc box. Spring is just around the corner for us, so I’m getting ready for a good flow. Your hillbilly method of extraction with the potato ricer is brilliant, I’d much rather do things by hand! I’m going to give it a go this weekend. I’m off to Italy next month and I have friends who keep bees outside of Florence, in Tuscany. I’m going to take some of my own honey to impress them…


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