A honey extractor is usually one of the last pieces of equipment that a beekeeper gets after learning how to raise bees. Starting beekeeping can be pricey, but there are some ways to save money and making your own DIY honey extractor is one of them. We’ve come up with a method that works well and saves money since you don’t have to buy a formal honey extractor. The supplies are easy to find and the method is not too cumbersome.
What kind of extractor you need depends on your beehive plans for raising honey bees. If you use foundation-less frames or top bar hives you’ll need an extractor that crushes and then drains the honey from the wax. You can use a crush and drain extractor for frames with foundations but you will need to clean the frames and put in new foundations before putting them back in the hive.
Supplies Needed to Make a DIY Honey Extractor
The following is a list of supplies you will need to get started. The great thing is that most, if not all, of these items can easily be found right in your kitchen and home.
Shallow baking pans
Colanders (These are optional.)
Two five-gallon food grade buckets (One bucket with small holes drilled into the bottom of it.)
Five gallon bucket lid with the middle cut out (This is optional. You’ll need one with a liquid spigot.)
Paint strainer bag
Cheese cloth (This is optional.)
Five gallon paint stirrer
Potato masher or meat grinder (Or something else that you can to use to crush.)
How to Make a DIY Honey Extractor
When you first bring your frames or top bars inside, you will need to cut the comb out. For foundation-less frames, either a cutting board with a well around it or a shallow baking pan works great. For top bars, just hold them over a large bowl and cut the bottom portion off. It’s best if you leave an inch or two of comb on the frame or top bar.
Next, you’ll need to crush the comb. You can use a potato masher and just mash it in the bowl or pan or you can send it through a meat grinder without the grinding plates in it. One time we tried using a tortilla press but the press was broken before we finished the job. So if you think that using a tortilla press is a great idea, you might not want to use your Grandma’s press to try it out.
Now comes the fun part: draining the honey. We’ve used several set ups to drain our honey. One set up is to line each colander with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl or pan. We usually put a clean kitchen towel over the colanders and then let them sit overnight and drain.
Another way is to use five gallon buckets. Put the lid on the bucket without holes. The lid needs have the middle cut out with about one or two inches left around the edges to hold the second bucket. Line the bucket with holes with a paint strainer bag draping it over the edges. Put the bucket with the holes on top of the first bucket and fill with the crushed comb. Let the crushed comb sit overnight to drain into the bucket with the bag or the bowls.
The next day you can take the bag with the comb and tie it to the five gallon paint stirrer. Twist the bag to get the last bit of honey out and let it drain into the bottom bucket. If you are using colanders, lift up the cheesecloth and twist it to get the last of the honey.
The last step is to jar your honey. Your jars need to be clean and dry. You can just run them through a dishwasher or you can wash them in hot, soapy water. A canning funnel and a ladle will make the job much easier. If you used a bucket with a spigot for your bottom bucket you can put the bucket on the edge of a table and fill the jars without a funnel.
To get beeswax, put the comb in a large pot with two or three inches of water and heat until the wax is melted. Any honey remaining in the comb will be dispersed in the water and the wax will float. When all the wax is melted, turn off the heat and let it cool. Once it’s cool, you will have a block of beeswax to use.
What do you use for a homemade honey extractor? Have you used this method or do you have another DIY method that works well? Share your ideas in the comments below so we can learn together.