We used to get all our honey contract extracted quite a few years ago , but had to wait in line for our turn, and when short of boxes it just did'nt work. Added to that was taking thee boxes to the extractor and carting them back .... I'd get home at 10.30pm . It was'nt really sustainable.
So we set up our own plant. It did'nt cost a great deal. We bought an extractor and sump tank for a grand. We started off with a hand knife for uncapping. The hand hot knife does a lovely job on the frames.
Later we traded another extractor for a drum of honey.
We still use the uncapping machine and one of the extractors. They get rebuilt every few years. Extracting honey ... and Adam Boot is gonna love this ...."Is not rocket science !!"
What cost the money was when the Gvt jumped in and toughened up the regulations. We had to build a new food grade extraction room ( which is very nice) but cost us 100k and some fancy wax separating gear, and of course the RMP regs.
The advantage is that we can extract honey when we want. The boxes are available the next day and we don't grumble when not enough drums are filled at the end of the day.
We talked with several other beekeepers about setting up a joint enterprise, but nothing eventuated. Most beekeeeprs are too much of individualists.
I think it's a bit like a cocky owning a quarter of a million dollar Header they only use for a week a year ..... they can harvest the million dollar crop when it's ready and reap the reward of a quality product.
Most small business's don't happen overnight. They grow in fits and starts as the operator gains experience and confidence .... and has a few spare dollars at the end of the season to upgrade.
I remember dropping a load of honey off one day down at Davidson's honey shed in Timaru. He commented to his crew that my one man band with a truck and a crane was probably quite a good way to make money in the honey business. I was'nt so sure. Over the years we grew our operation and employed quite a lot of Beekeepers. We have since shrunk back to a two man operation and I am now inclined to agree with Mr Davidson.
He has been dead a few years now, but I hear on the grapevine that when he died there were'nt many bees left ..... such is the joy of employees