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We currently run a very small and labour intensive honey house that we have been wanting to upgrade it for quite some seasons. At a minimum we would like to add an automatic uncapper to the system but more could change (including the size of the room itself!) So the question is what would your dream honey house look like if it was being rebuilt, say for around 500 - 600 hives?

 

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If I was moving up to 500 colonies, I would want the Cowan 28 extractor with the Silver Queen uncapper.  We currently have no plans to move up to that sort of scale and have built our extracting aroun

My dream honey house would be in another country where they didn't have so many stupid rules. Other than that I would have 2 eight frame  tangential Extractors like we used to have years ago and

We used to have everything contract extracted. It seemed easy, but the reality was it was extra time transporting boxes there and back, and then we had to wait in line for our turn .... So we put

1 hour ago, Dennis Crowley said:

It would be on someone else property and they do it all for me and i just pay the invoice.

 

all jokes aside, there is some very good reasoning for that. contracting out extraction does free you up a lot for beekeeping. however chasing around for extraction every year can be a major pain.

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My dream honey house would be in another country where they didn't have so many stupid rules.

Other than that I would have 2 eight frame  tangential Extractors like we used to have years ago and hand planes but they would be electrically heated rather than the steam ones we used to have. I would probably settle for a spinner for removing the wax but I would have a good look around to see what's available.

The old extractors were a lot gentler on the frames and were almost indestructible and you had very little downtime. Hand planes are a lot kinder on the frames and also have a lot less downtime plus you can afford to have a spare one or two if something does go wrong.  A lot of the old extracting plants were built on top of the platform so you didn't even need a pump.

 

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10 hours ago, southbee said:

We currently run a very small and labour intensive honey house that we have been wanting to upgrade it for quite some seasons. At a minimum we would like to add an automatic uncapper to the system but more could change (including the size of the room itself!) So the question is what would your dream honey house look like if it was being rebuilt, say for around 500 - 600 hives?

 

Thanks!

 

best thing you can do is go see other plants and understand all the issues they run into. 

 

what sort of plant do you have now?

i don't see any point of asking for a dream honey house as you will never afford it. even the ones that had no budget still have issues. what you want is something that works well enough for your size.

eg for 500-600 hives your not going to waste money on an auto-pricker, unless your contract extraction for other people.

if you have seen my posts on some of the fixes of auto prickers etc you will understand. i hope to have some more fixes coming soon.

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3 minutes ago, john berry said:

The old extractors were a lot gentler on the frames and were almost indestructible

tho a lot of that is people trying to get things done quicker, so they run them at higher speed. plastic frames can handle the speeds and staff don't care about what wax is left on the frames.

same issue with our new one, just had to slow it right down as it was set way to high.

 

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@john berry , you pretty much described what we run at the moment😆 The hand plane does work very well and quickly but isn't kind on the tired old arms... 

Interesting to hear that you would go for them, maybe I should train my arm muscles and stick with it for a while longer yet. Also using an old wax spinner, after draining the cappings for a few hours in the baskets we uncap into. 

1 hour ago, tristan said:

what sort of plant do you have now?

We run a 16 frame beetec extractor, box lifter and rotary sieve in a room that is probably 4mx6m. It has served us well but is quite labour intensive, though that is the nature of the job I guess🙂 You're right is has to work for one's size and I like the simplicity of our plant, but was wondering if there could be improvements done we haven't thought of. 

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We used to have everything contract extracted. It seemed easy, but the reality was it was extra time transporting boxes there and back, and then we had to wait in line for our turn ....

So we put our own plant in.

 

It started with a hot top and hand knife and two four frame extractors that gravity fed into a sump tank in the floor of the big shed where we stored boxes and trucks..

The honey was then pumped into drums.

 

The new regs came in and we needed a dedicated room, and the four frame painted extractors went to the museum in the roof.

 

We bought a second hand Penrose uncapper that gets refurbished every few years and works very well. It's gotta be almost forty years old now.

We have a 21 frame Pender extractor and a 48 frame ( I think ) Lyson extractor.   They both tick away and spin out white honey from wooden frames very gently.

The uncapper sits over a water jacketed tank that mixes wax and extractor honey with a stainless paddle.

 

The slurry is then pumped through a heat exchanger made by a local Lad for nuts to Ross Wards Honey Hummer that hums away all day and drops clean honey into a holding tank, from where a float switch activates a pump and transfers the honey to  two bulk tanks in the roof that hold about 2200 litres of honey.

 

The bulk honey is then pumped into drums. The pump has an cut off switch that is activated by a probe that sits in the small hole of the drum, ensuring no more sticky floors. 

 

My wish list is for a homogenising paddle in the bulk tanks , an easy way for weighing drums, and a forklift to lift a pallet of four drums .

 

But at the top of my wish list is to have a market for what I produce.

 

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Yes, been there and done the contract extracting, @jamesc, lots of double handling and long transport for us. Sounds like you got a lot of what I would dream of and I suspect I'll keep dreaming for a while. I envy you for the uncapper, but we wouldn't have the room to put one in at the moment, but dreaming is free! We haven't even got a homogenising tank, but do have a forklift, great machine and gets used for lots of jobs around the place and the boys love driving it... Also quite happy with our weighing system, we push the drums on trolleys to a hoist, that lifts them onto scales, they get labeled and then lifted with the hoist onto the pallets, done. Well, and as for the top of your wish list, we're working on it, I think everyone is....

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19 hours ago, southbee said:

We run a 16 frame beetec extractor, box lifter and rotary sieve in a room that is probably 4mx6m. It has served us well but is quite labour intensive, though that is the nature of the job I guess🙂 You're right is has to work for one's size and I like the simplicity of our plant, but was wondering if there could be improvements done we haven't thought of. 

uncapper, pricker ?

what do you use to get the honey clean after the rotary sieve?

 

the beetec extractors are great, tho a bit light weight, we have just retired ours. real shame they are not made any more.

 

the main improvements is obviously a 2nd extractor. unload/load one while the other spins. then its a matter of decapper/pricker keeping up. a single pricker would be ok but you could run two semi-auto prickers.

i would stay clear of the auto prickers, tho i have not heard what the Crystech one runs like (it looks substantially better than Boutelje).

wax press for cappings and spin float for the honey.

we have just replaced out spin float and gone with Boutelje Centrifuge. the spin floats all seam to suffer the same issue, cutting the wax. 

 

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No uncapper @tristan, all done by hand with an electric planer. Works very well, but tiring and too slow to feed 2 extractors. Thought of using 2 planers...but I fear mutiny with my unpaid helpers, i.e. kids...

We do have a pricker, manual, but only use it on manuka.

No extra cleaning needed after the rotary sieve, it's pretty clean honey because of the planer and the sieve does a fine job. Often wondered about a wax press, the spinner is getting rather old....You got me thinking so, no way I can improve it without extending the size of the room. Won't happen this season, but will put some thought into possible extensions, thanks for your input!

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two main ways are, have a decapper, pricker, big wax press for cappings and spin float etc for cleaning honey.

the honey from the extractors tends to have very little wax in it due to the decapper taking most of it, but you have a lot of cappings to deal with with the wax press.

the other way is pricking only. you get a lot less wax overall. use a small wax press for what comes off the pricker (and any honey filled burr comb), but the honey from the extractors does end up with quite a bit of very fine wax.

 

the other thing to consider is really clean honey is a blessing to packers and buyers (cheaper for them to process). which is why we decided against using a rotary filter as it let very fine wax through. 

the sieves i've seen used are typically used as a pre filter for a spin float or after filter in case of mishap.

 

the original beetech setup was to be in a tiny room. basically a semi-auto pricker, extractor, vertical heat exchange and spin float.

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17 hours ago, Gerry said:

If I was moving up to 500 colonies, I would want the Cowan 28 extractor with the Silver Queen uncapper.  We currently have no plans to move up to that sort of scale and have built our extracting around a Mann Lake 18 frame radial unit.

 

The other bit we did when we built our new honey shed, we put in a small room well insulated for storing honey prior to extracting.  We call  it the 'warm room', but in fact it's more like a 'warm closet', set up to hold 100 supers max.  This year was the first time we stored honey in the warm room prior to extracting, and kept the temp in there around 32C, so we were dealing with warm honey to extract.  We also switched to using a hot knife to uncap, used to use cold knife and or capping fork.

 

This is what we realized.  In the old system, put a load of frames in the extractor then start it out at low speed.  It would shake and rattle a LOT, it would move around if it wasn't bolted down.  After 5 or so minutes it would settle some, then we could go up to medium speed, and finally after another 5 minutes, up to high speed.  Extracting was a long, slow, laborious process.  This year we had warm honey in the frames.  Load the extractor and run it directly up to medium speed.  Very little shaking, and within a minute we could run it up to high speed.  After 5 minutes at high speed, frames were completely empty.

 

The lesson learned from that exercise, investing in how we prepare the honey for extracting allows us to make far more efficient use of the rest of the equipment.  Prior to this exercise we felt that after 50 colonies we would need a bigger extractor because it was a stretch to do 3 loads an hour in the unit we have.  Now that we can have warm honey  on extracting day, we can extract much faster, and the bottleneck is more likely to be uncapping than spinning.

 

I dont know about that manuka stuff, we dont have it in our part of the world, but for regular honey, I have learned it is a mistake to focus on extracting equipment without first putting the focus on how you prepare everything for an extracting run.  A proper warm room has got to be first on the list if thinking about upgrades to the extracting facilities.

 

So back to the original question, the 'dream honey house' for a 500 colony operation.  I've actually had a tour of exactly that.  On the input end it has room with concrete floor, in floor heating, holds about 1000 boxes.  There is an overhead system that allows picking up a stack of boxes then go thru the door and drop the stack by the de-boxer.  The same overhead picker then is used to put them in the de-boxer one at a time.  After de-boxing they go thru a silver queen uncapper, then next is the Cowan 28 extractor.  On the far end, frames go back into empty boxes and on into another cold storage room same size as the warm room.  The extractor and uncapper outputs are mixed, then pumped into a spin float.  Honey coming out of the spin float is further pumped into a large tank that feeds into the nassenheider bottling setup.  The whole facility had multiple floor drains in strategic spots and was completely set up for cleaning with a hot water power washer.  The day we went thru, the facility was spotless.  An amazing facility, on one end you bring a truckload of boxes off the hives, out the other end comes cases of honey in bottles with labels at one door, and boxes of empty frames at the other door.  There wasn't a barrel to be found anywhere on the property.

 

The business case for that setup was equally stunning.  No middle man anywhere in the process.  The family runs bee colonies, and the honey ends up in a large store chain as store label product.

That does sound like a dream, like the overhead pick up, big size warm room and same size cold storage room and then the packing straight into jars, awesome. Food for thought! 

Agree with your comments about warming room, rather important. We actually got two, both with heating tapes in the concrete floor, work a treat. Our bottleneck is the uncapping, but I'll stick with it for another season at least, but good to hear others ideas and set ups. We live quite remote and I don't get to see many other honey houses, so thanks for the detailed reply.

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On 24/11/2020 at 10:31 PM, Goran said:

In this one old advertisement, you can load it, unload it at ease ( it has its own supports). 

 

WWW.NJUSKALO.HR

Pokretna vrcaona sa vrcaljkom i svom opremom Pokreta vrcaona sa vrcaljkom radijalnom 20 okvirnom inox

 

 

Hi @Goran, I believe there's some movable units in NZ, haven't seen one myself. 

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On 24/11/2020 at 9:23 PM, tristan said:

two main ways are, have a decapper, pricker, big wax press for cappings and spin float etc for cleaning honey.

the honey from the extractors tends to have very little wax in it due to the decapper taking most of it, but you have a lot of cappings to deal with with the wax press.

the other way is pricking only. you get a lot less wax overall. use a small wax press for what comes off the pricker (and any honey filled burr comb), but the honey from the extractors does end up with quite a bit of very fine wax.

 

the other thing to consider is really clean honey is a blessing to packers and buyers (cheaper for them to process). which is why we decided against using a rotary filter as it let very fine wax through. 

the sieves i've seen used are typically used as a pre filter for a spin float or after filter in case of mishap.

 

the original beetech setup was to be in a tiny room. basically a semi-auto pricker, extractor, vertical heat exchange and spin float.

Had a long day, but just reading this again, maybe we'll use both, the planer and pricker this season. Put one of my boys on the pricker and one can load, while I work the planer...that should speed things up. Never had any problems with the honey not being clean, I think the mesh on our filter is quite fine and the rotary action lets the wax pick up more wax, so it ends up being one big wax sausage at the end of the day. 

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we used to run a decapper, but they always miss bits which needs pricking or scratching by hand. right pain.

then we started pricking everything and it was faster. it saves a lot of hand work unless you get enough needles broken.

however for a dream extraction plant i would still use a decapper, but in a different role. simply use it as a sizer to cut down oversized comb, burr comb etc. that makes it easier for prickers to work.

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