New and Improved Hillbilly Honey Extraction Method

July 6, 2012 · 19 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.

 

{ 18 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 : )

Reply

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.

Reply

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.

Reply

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

This is looks SO good!

Reply

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!

Reply

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…

Reply

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!

Reply

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.

Reply

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!

Reply

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?

Thank-you!

-Steve

Reply

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…

Reply

Melissa July 6, 2015 at 7:47 pm

so thankful to find you here on the web today! Especially since I have a super FULL on honey on the island in my kitchen!!! Excited about spending some more time on your blog! simple and fun!

Reply

Amy July 28, 2015 at 12:59 pm

I’m not a beekeeper (although I’d like to be) and while my Grandpa had a standard type hive and all the extra equipment (the extractor and whatnot), I’ve never had a chance to see how collecting and extracting the honey was done since a bear moved in and destroyed his hives the second year he had them. He never replaced them. Lately, I’ve been looking into trying my own hand at it (and using the “electric mesh fence” method to keep the bears away!) With Grandpa’s old equipment gone, and how expensive it would be to get new stuff, I was interested in how extracting honey could be done without the use of the expensive extractor machine. After reading both your articles, I find I might actually prefer the older method. It’s low-tech (which I like very much) and seems to produce a “cleaner” honey. And I think the older method will work better with the type of hive I want a get – a Warre type hive. Also, I don’t have a potato ricer. As for the sticky mess left behind – very hot water will dissolve the leftover residue and send it down the drain. A sad loss surely, but clean-up must be done.

Reply

Teresa August 18, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Thank you for the great idea! I don’t have a potato ricer but I do have something that works even better. I wouldn’t have thought of it if you hadn’t posted. It’s called a chinois. I can put a lot more in it, and it doesn’t take the hand strength required by a potato ricer. It’s a cone shaped colander with a wooden pestle. My mother-in-law purchased it for me 25 years ago. At the time I wondered what in the world I would ever use it for — ahhh youth. It gets so much use — straining seeds from mulberries and persimmons — well endless. These can get expensive, and the best ones come with a wooden pestle for mashing ingredients against the sides. They are cone-shaped, which allows for more straining surface area, and they are used mostly for making sauces, soups, and custards that need to be super smooth and silky. The holes are extremely fine, and you can use the pestle to pulverize every last drop of liquid out of the solid ingredients without mashing through any grit.

Reply

Teresa August 18, 2015 at 12:50 pm

One last thought. When you talked about honey being easier to work with when it was warm that gave me another idea. I have a large seedling mat that I use to start seeds with in late winter. It provides a gently bottom heat — around 80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. It worked great! Again, I wouldn’t have thought about it without you great page!

Reply

Nannette & Peter September 9, 2015 at 8:16 am

So glad to find this website. This morning my husband and I started our extraction process…and I thought there has to be a better way! Well…unless you want the expense of the electric extractor this method as described is great. We use the chinois method and yes, it is messy but the results are worth it. Not sure where our colander and wooden pestle came from as my husband has had it for many years. Now, I can smile as we do this “chore” as I know others are also working in this manner. We had 10 frames full of honey- but wax moths invaded 5; so they are a loss. However; it is our fault, we didn’t extract the honey as soon as we should have. We will have 4 quarts of honey at the end of this morning. We put the jars in a 170 degree oven for several hours in order to get the wax and impurities to the top,. If our oven went to 160 degrees F. we would use that temperature. Happy Honey!

Reply

Alison October 18, 2015 at 5:30 am

Love this post : )
Until i find on at an antique fair, Ill be using your colander method. Usually spin with an ancient and beautiful extractor borrowed from a friend, but the last harvest did not even enough frames to fill it! I had not put the supers on soon enough and so many residents absconded with a queen. I could see them all hanging in a tree in my neighbours property…. not confident enough to try to catch them. So I hope they are in a spot that someone else will tend them and reap the rewards.
I have had hives in my urban garden for about 5 years, not only is it fascinating, but the honey is delicious! The bees fly straight up and zoom off to forage I don’t know where…. point I’m making is it would be wonderful to have many many more urban hives.

Reply

Debra C Johnson March 19, 2018 at 6:54 pm

How do you separate the wax and where did it go? Do you have a mold an how much wax do you get from that jar of honey?

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: