Apicultura Wiki




IT is certainly fortunate for bee-keepers that centrifugal force is one of the unalterable laws of the physical world. However, this force might never have been of any use to the apiarist had it not been for a certain Major Francesco de Hruschka of Venice, who is a most interesting figure in the history of bee-keeping. Next in importance to the inven- tion of the movable frames by the venerable Lang- stroth was the invention of the honey-extractor. We have a picture of Major Hruschka in our minds as not only a brave man of war as indicated by his military rank, but also as a happy man of peace, who loved his hives with their little citizens, and who also possessed notable domestic virtues and loved the companionship of his children and was interested in their doings. For it was when his little son accompanied him to his apiary and, having a comb full of honey set up in a basket, began whirl- ing it boy-like by the rope attached to the handle, that the Major discovered the honey was being thrown out of the comb by this action. Instead of spanking the boy as most fathers would have done, the thoughtful Major cogitated on the fact that such a simple motion should have emptied the comb of honey, and he straightway proceeded to invent the first honey-extractor. This was in 1865; up to that time the liquid honey was extracted by a method which we remember well. The comb was crushed, and with it too often, alas! the dead bees, larva? and any dirt whatsoever that happened to be present; this mixture was suspended in a cloth bag, over a tub or vat in a warm room; and the honey, carrying with it much of the debris, slowly dripped out reeking with an aroma and a flavour quite unknown in these regenerate days, and forming a product that may well be spared from the world's marts.

Since 1865, many honey-extractors have been invented in America, and almost all of them which have survived the test of use are satisfactory. The perfection of the invention is an automatically reversible machine with ball bearings, highly geared in order to attain the maximum of steadiness and rapidity with the appliance of a minimum of power.

The principle of construction underlying all of the best extractors is a cylindrical can containing wire pockets in which the combs are set on edge, and which are revolved by being geared to a crank at the top of the can. There is room for more or less honey below the wire pockets, and at the bottom of the can is a faucet or honey gate, through which the extracted honey may be drawn off into a pail or vat.

The extractor is a very excellent adjunct to any apiary, however small, even if comb-honey is the chief product, for it saves much honey that other- wise would be wasted. When the apiary consists of less than forty hives of bees, one of the small non- reversible extractors may be used. These weigh less and cost less; but every frame of comb has to be taken out after the honey has been extracted on one side and reversed and put back in order to clear the honey from the other side. Though the automatic reversible machine costs more and is heavier, it is far more satisfactory on the whole, if there is much honey to be extracted.


The frames used for extracting honey are in form similar to those which hold the brood, except they may not be so deep. However, most bee-keepers use both supers containing the shallow extracting- frames, and also those filled with frames of the full depth. The bees will go into the shallow frames more readily than into the deeper ones, as they are better able to keep the small chambers warm. But if the colony is very strong and the harvest good, the deeper frames are acceptable to the bees and save the time of the bee-keeper. (Plate XVIII.)


Some producers practice extracting the honey before it is capped, so as to save the trouble and expense of uncapping. There is one danger attend- ing this method: the green, unripened honey is thus often extracted, and it is the most insipid of sweets. Honey needs to ripen slowly in a warm temperature in order to be palatable. Some, like Quinby, advo- cate the ripening of honey in vats or evaporators after it has been extracted. But it is the consensus of opinion that honey to be of perfect flavour needs to ripen in the warm, bee-odour-laden atmosphere of the hive. The bees ordinarily leave the honey uncapped for some time as it thus ripens more readily. Therefore, those who produce an espe- cially fine quality of extracted honey usually begin to tier up as soon as the super is fairly filled and before the honey is capped. The bees have ample room to go on storing honey in the interpolated super, and do not bother to cap the honey already stored above. Thus these supers, three or four or as many as practicable, are left on the hive until the end of the honey harvest, and thus the honey attains its proper ripeness and flavour.

There a.e others who claim that honey is never properly ripened until capped, and therefore practice tiering after the cells of comb are at least partly covered.


There are various knives invented for this process, the Bingham uncapping-knife being the favourite. It is used thus: The frame containing the honey standing on one end and leaning over a receptacle for the caps is held with the left hand, the knife in the right hand begins at the bottom of the comb and running backward and forward as it is moved upward shears off very neatly the covering of the cells. The knife must be very sharp, and skill in cutting is shown in just the merest film of wax which is removed. A pan of hot water should be at hand on an oil stove perhaps ; every time a sheet of capping is removed, the knife needs to be scraped on a stick, which will not dull it; and quite often it should be dipped in the hot water to clean it. If there is much uncapping to be done, it is best to have two knives, keeping one in the pan; for cleanliness and heat are quite as potent factors as is sharpness in making the uncapping knife effective.

There are on the market uncapping-cans, the Dadant being the most popular. It is a double can with an arrangement on top convenient for holding the end of the frame on a pivot and with wooden cross-pieces on which the knife may be wiped. Below there is a wire screen for holding the cappings, with a space in the bottom of the can for the honey which drains off, and which is always of the most excellent and delicious quality. Of course, the cappings are saved to be made into beeswax.


Honey, whether in the comb or out, will crystallise when subjected to low temperature or when left standing for a long time. However, extracted honey crystallises much more readily than that which is in combs; and this crystallisation is one of the problems of putting up and marketing extracted honey. To prevent it extracted honey should be evaporated until it is thick, sealed while hot in air- tight cans, and kept in a room the temperature of which never falls below 65 F. It should be kept in tin or galvanised iron cans, rather than in wood. Some people seem to have been successful in using wooden vessels for holding the honey after having given them a coating of wax; but the way honey gets through small places is more proverbial among bee- keepers than is the ability of the stingy man to do the same; even when a tub or pan seems water-tight the honey will triumphantly work its passage through.

In order to preserve extracted honey in packages it must be canned or bottled, and the air entirely excluded. There are two methods of accomplish- ing this : First, the honey is heated in bulk, and run off into hot cans or bottles. Second, the honey is put in the bottles first and then heated; in both cases the honey is heated by hot water. Perhaps the easier method is to heat it in bulk, and if there is not at hand a double boiler, one can be improvised by using a wash-boiler in which pails containing the honey may be set. In any case the honey and the water surrounding it should be of the temperature of the room to begin with; then a slow, steady fire is needed to bring the temperature of the water up to 160 F. Mr. Root advises the use of a gasoline stove for this purpose as the heat may thus be care- fully regulated, and it is very important that the process be a slow one. After the temperature of the

Taking off upper story of hive containing combs for extracting. The bees have been removed from the supers by the bee-escaps seen at the right.

Photozraths by Verne Morton

Extracting-room showing extractor, strainer, uncapping can, bee-escape, smoker, uncapping knife, gloves, funnel, supers and sections, extractor pocket containing extracted sections, partly filled sections as yet uncapped, extracting frame with comb, etc.


honey reaches 160 F. it may be poured into freshly scalded cans or bottles and sealed, air-tight. If bottles are used, the corks should have paraffine poured over them so as to make sure of excluding the air.


Mason fruit jars are extensively used for this as they are practical, cheap and useful afterward. The No. 25 honey-jar, somewhat resembling the Mason can, is made purposely for putting up honey, and is attractive in appearance. The Muth bottles are made in four sizes for extracted honey; the largest holding two pounds, and the smallest a quarter of a pound. These bottles are decorated with a design of an old straw skep, and bear the prophetic inscription "pure honey" moulded into the glass. Jelly-glasses are often used and paraffined paper is placed over the honey, just as it is placed over jelly to exclude the air before the tin cover is put on. Glass packages are by all means the most attractive for extracted honey in small quantities. However, tin pails of various sizes are in use, and may be ser- viceable for a cheap and inferior grade of honey, which is thus made ready for the consumer who is willing to buy "aside unseen." But a fine quality of honey rejoices in the light of day and in the scrutiny of eyes which may look at it first critically and then longingly.

The most practical packages for shipping honey in quantity are the large, square cans in common use which hold sixty pounds each. These are convenient for shipping and for measuring and are safe from breakage.

The advantages of extracted honey over that of comb-honey are: Almost double the honey may be produced, because the bees having no comb to build, devote their energies to storing honey; and also the honey from the brood-combs may be extracted; it is more easily and safely handled and shipped; it is more easily produced, since the bees work more readily in the emptied cells of the extracted combs than in sections where they are obliged to build new cells; swarming is more easily controlled, because the bees more readily accept the enlargement of their quarters when the supers contain fully made comb, also larger hives may be used.

The disadvantages are: It is more "mussy" and requires special apparatus; and unless great care is given, the bees will be starved through this con- venient way of pilfering their stores.


Use glass or tin, rather than wood, for honey receptacles.

Be careful not to expose the honey as you take it out of the supers, lest the bees begin robbing.

Honey should be canned while hot, and kept from the air.

Heating honey to a higher temperature than 160 destroys its flavour.

Cooling honey to a temperature below 60 pro- duces granulation.

Work in a warm room.

Have a label of your own, with some unique and individual design, which, when placed on the pack- age, will render it attractive.