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How it used to be done


I just harvested one of my hives without flow hive technology. I took a photograph of the action in a two frame honey extractor. Shown at 1/8000 second shutter speed, raw honey is flung to the 2 frame extractor drum by rotating the honey comb frames at a high speed.


I just love that
I look forward to it every year
A warm extraction room, the smell of wax and honey and that deluge of honey from the extractor valve into my buckets…wonderful
Then all that lovely white wax to make candles from.
There is much talk of air forced through the honey during extraction removing some of the volatiles but I think honey from wax has a taste of its own.


I borrowed an extractor to do 4 deep frames and I have to say it was very cool but what a mess and after setting equipment outside to let the bees clean it up started bee fights. It was interesting and I’m glad for the experience though the flow hive is much faster and easier. I did find it gratifying though but I disliked the the disturbance to the frames as I’m in a shortage of built up frames of wax. I was surprised at how much honey was to be had. :smiley: Great Photo!


You never do that. Warm soapy water and thorough hose down with cold onto the lawn


Martha, every time you extract honey by hand, it gets easier & less messy. You learn after a while how hard to spin so as not to damage the frames.

I found that I can extract a full box of honey in 90 minutes from start to finish. That includes removing & replacing the frames from the hive as well as cleaning up.


I used an escape board yesterday and today I walked out to the apiary, picked up 8 fully capped, fat frames in a 10 frame super(they were spaced just right), without any bees in the super and brought them into my air conditioned kitchen. Here on the east coast of the USA we have heat AND humidity and you won’t catch me standing out there for hours if I don’t have to lol.


A great photo Gerry and a picture is worth a thousand words. Well done.


Today is 92F and 75% here. I am sheltering inside. :blush:


Thanks! I think I got that! Lol I didn’t know better! I do now!


Thanks Jeff. I think I’ll end up with an extracter at some point. I did it pretty fast though I did it just after sun up before the bees were out. I tried that to avoid doing it indoors as I was unsure how large a mess would come of it.


That’s a good strategy Martha, for a single box of frames you can do it outdoors before the honey scouts find it, unless you are in a honey dearth or just after bad weather. In that case the honey scouts will find you pretty quick.

When you said that extracting made a mess of the frames, my thoughts went to @Semaphore, who used a cheap extractor that didn’t have good support for the face of the comb. You need to keep an eye on that. You definitely need good support for the face of the frames. Think of me this afternoon our time. I’ll be flat out extracting.

These are a sample & typical of 3 boxes of frames I brought home this morning to add to 8.5 boxes to extract tomorrow. I decided to start on it this afternoon instead.

A lot of the frames in the other boxes are much the same. cheers


What a great photo Martha. I’m expanding my apiary with traditional hives too and extraction will be learning process for sure. I had a practice run the other day with a couple of frames and managed OK but destroyed one of the frames. Jeff’s comments about frame support sparked my interest though. Maybe one could attach some thin wire mesh to the extractor to help support the wax? One thing I really like about it is finally getting some wax!
Best all.


Hi Jeff,
Can you tell me when you remove frames or the whole super ready to spin, what do you put back on the remaining hive while you harvest ?
Do you just put a lid on the broodbox until you return with the sticky frames?
I don’t have any spare stickys or drawn comb so would have to use spare plastic foundation and frames to replace the full frames, just wondering what is best to do when the time comes with my conventional hive
Regards Brian


For me, it depends on time of year: If it’s late and the season is winding down, I take the super and the bees don’t get one back until next Spring. If I think there is still a decent nectar flow, I give it right back to them after harvest (about an hour).


G’day Brian, I remove the full frames & leave the empty space. I leave the hive mat sticking out so I know which hives need stickies. Sometimes I’ll put an empty frame or a foundation frame next to the frames that weren’t ready to give the bees something to do, so they don’t build burr comb. If they do, I simply scrape it off before returning the stickies.

If I remove every honey frame, I always leave the empty super on the hive. In that case I’ll try & put a couple of frames in the middle for the same reason.

I don’t like removing supers from hives because I always wonder if removing them can trigger the impulse for the colony to swarm with that reduced hive space.

It’s funny, yesterday @Red_Hot_Chilipepper was trying to get away from heat & humidity while this morning I’m creating heat & humidity in my house to make extracting a bit easier. I have 6 boxes to do a bit later on. cheers


That’s interesting jeff- I have wondered about how you remove the frames you harvest. can I ask what you do at the end of the season? Do you completely remove supers over winter? I’ve worried removing the flow super before as you suddenly effectively half the space the bees have and it seems like it would be tough for them to suddenly be so crowded? The first year we removed my mums super the bottom brood was so crowded- we shook all the bees out of the flow frames and afterwards he entire hive was covered in inches of bees. they did all seem to make there way in though. At then end of autumn here numbers in the hive are still very high. I’m not sure if we should wait until say a month into winter when numbers have possibly reduced- though our queens seem to never stop laying.


I have a 2 frame extractor and best to spin at a low speed to begin with doing both sides of the frame. as the frame becomes lighter having spun out some of the honey the cranking speed can be increased. Spinning to fast with full frames of honey can cause chunks of honeycomb the break out of the frame. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. It is an essential piece of my gear Takes about 2 minutes to extract 2 frames.
Clean up is done by laying the extractor on its side near the hives. Cheers Martha


Hi Jack, I don’t remove any supers before or during our winters. If you do remove supers before winter, be aware that the reduced space wont trigger swarming because the bees are approaching winter & the days are getting shorter. A migratory lid in conjunction with a hive mat is always a good thing to use because of the added bee space that they can fit into if they need to.

I came to a conclusion recently that if any frames are not covered in bees during winter, they will get mildew on them. Also I noticed that it’s the weaker colonies that get the most moisture buildup in the lids.


cheers jeff- I came to exactly the same conclusion about mildew in regards to flow frames.


that’s exactly what I do now too. I spin out about half the frame slowly- both sides- then flip and spin much faster. The problem is when the side that isn’t spinning out is full of honey and the weight is pushing against the side that’s being spun.First time I extracted I was too fast and all my combs split- last time I did it only one had a little crack that the bees can repair. Also as jeff mentioned my spinner was poor (cheap and nasty) and had no support for the faces of the frame. I added cake racks in there and now it is much better!