Saturday, September 1, 2012

From the Hive to the Bottle: Extraction!

One of my favorite things to eat for breakfast in the morning is a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and I love to bake with honey. Have you ever wondered how beekeepers get the honey from the honeybees and put it in a bottle? Beekeepers do that through a process called extraction!  Let’s take a look.
This bee brush is used to get the bees off from each frame!
Step 1: The first thing beekeepers have to do is take the honey supers, or boxes of extra honey, off the hive. To take the boxes off, beekeepers must first remove the bees from inside. There are many different ways they do this. They might use a special scent that the bees don’t like so they leave the box. Another way beekeepers get the bees out is by brushing them off each frame by using a bee brush, and there are even bee blowers that beekeepers can use to blow the bees of from each frame – kind of like a vacuum only it blows air out.

A beekeeper using a hot knife to get the wax cappings off. 
Step 2: Once the honey has been taken off the hive, and the majority of the bees are gone, the next step is to remove the wax cappings that cover the honeycomb on each frame. You see, when honeybees are making honey, they put the honey in beeswax cells and put a thin layer of beeswax over the top to keep the honey from coming out. To get the wax off, beekeepers might use a hot knife and cut them off or use a machine that will take them off.

This is a type of extractor that you crank!
Step 3: Next, each wooden frame is placed into a big cylinder, metal machine or piece of equipment called an extractor. Some beekeepers have big extractors that may hold hundreds of frames at one time, and others may have smaller ones that only hold a few.  

Step 4: Either by cranking or by a machine, the extractor then spins the frames in a circle at a high speed, which causes the honey to fly out of each frame like a centrifuge. The honey slides down the sides of the extractor, and can then be strained to take out anything that got in the honey like beeswax pieces or pollen.
Straining the honey!

Step 5: The honey may be put into a storage tank before the last step, which is to bottle the honey. Like you see in the picture, the honey flows right into each bottle.

Step 6: The honey is taken to be sold at a store or farmers market for you to enjoy!!

So, next time you eat some honey think about all the steps the beekeeper had to take so you could enjoy the liquid gold!

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