How to get that thixotropic honey
out of the frames
Now comes the real challenge
to get the honey extracted and strained. Anyone trying to extract Heather
or Manuka Honey knows what I'm talking about. The honey quickly turns into
a jelly like state and needs special tools to get out of the combs.
||The deboxer is lifting
frames out of the box, and the frames are pushed onto the chain infeed
system and taken one by one by the uncapper.
|The vibrating heated
knives cuts wax when the frames are going through uncapper.
The mix of wax-honey is pumped to a spinner where it's separated and
honey runs back to the sump.
||And the frames comes
out clean and straight to the loading rack where the chains take them
to the extractor.
The Sjoelis Honey loosener. The only efficient tool to get Heather and Manuka
Honey out of the combs. It consists of two plates with small plastic needles
that are pushed into the cells and stir the honey so it loosens up and can
be forced out during the extracting process.
||The frame hangs between
the two plates with needles, and the machine is operated with a handle
that push the plates together and needles are forced into the cells.
Five times for each frame they are pushed in, each time the frame
is moved slightly (one mm) so the needles work all honey in the cells.
|Close up of the plastic
needles. There are 1.700 of them, one for every cell in the comb.
Each one is supported by a spring so it will not brake when there
is pollen in the cell.
The cappings spinner is used to strain the Heather Honey. The flash
"freezes" the photo so it looks like the drum is not turning.
But with this gelatinous stuff
it's different. No matter how much you heat it, the wax will not float up
or the honey get any thinner. The only thing that will help is to stir the
Honey. Then it will get liquid, but only for a short time until it goes
back to "jelly" again. The pump did that work for me when I pumped the Honey
from the sump to the tank.
||A strainer cloth is
put inside the spinner basket and all Honey is pumped through it.
Normally I use a clearifying tank, and leave the Honey in it for a
day or two until the wax has floated up to the surface. Then it is
easy to pump the Honey out from the bottom and it will run like water
through the strainer.
Now this is not something I would recommend to do. The strainer cloth gets
clogged with wax very soon, and has to be taken out and cleaned. But I had
nothing better to use at the moment.
||Some wax particles went
through the spinner when I was cleaning the mesh. So to be sure to
get all of it I pumped the Honey through another strainer before packing
it to buckets for sale.
I learned a few things from
this experiment. First, I need a better way to strain the Honey, and I would
consider using a separator if I was
to produce any larger amounts of Heather.
Secondly, I killed the old myth that you can't extract thixotropic Honeys
with a radial extractor. I know now that a radial extractor works as well
as a tangential extractor.