Our hive is happily gaining weight at a somewhat alarming pace. (Check out the bee log for details) Before too long we are going to have a pile of frames that need extracting. Honey extractors are quite expensive and take up a good bit of space. I have looked at dozens of designs online and don’t see any that I want to copy. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted, but didn’t want to first test it when extracting. Extracting is a messy job, and I don’t want to get part way in and find out my rig doesn’t work.
A lot of people use metal or plastic trash cans for their extractor. They certainly work, but if you are only doing two frames at a time, then that seems like a lot of wasted space. A medium is about 20″ long and 6.5″ wide. The inside diameter of a 5 gallon bucket is 10.5″ at its smallest. This should leave enough room for two frames and a spinner. Lastly there is height. A bucket is about 15″ tall. This is too short to use by itself. If, however, you cut the bottom out of one and stack it on another it gets taller.
Any honey that hits the sides of the top bucket will just drip down into the next. The smaller hole in the right bucket holds the spinner shaft. I decided to go with 3/4″ PVC. It is light, cheap, and strong. I started with a cross fitting that goes down through the hole, out to two side posts, and up to a bolt that my drill can chuck up. The bolt is a 1/4-20 installed in a flat plug.
It looks good in the bucket, but I need some weight to really test it. A full medium frame should weigh no more than 5 pounds. I wanted to put bags of sand or water (5lb each) on the sides of the posts. I didn’t have any sand handy, so water it was. It didn’t go well. The bolt wasn’t perfectly centered and aligned to the shaft despite my efforts, so it wobbled even with out weight. Also the bags of water were horribly balanced which introduced really violent shaking.
Improvise Adapt Overcome
So what are the issues? First, the bolt trick was neat, but not well centered. I could try again, but wanted a different tack. Instead I will use pipe reducers to get to something small enough to chuck in my drill. It adds cost, but not much. This brass barb fits in any standard 3/8″ drill chuck. A pipe clamp helps prevent the PVC from splitting under the load.
Next I need to rethink the payload. It turns out standard barbell weights fit really nicely over 3/4″ pvc. I picked up a set of used ones and sank a screw in each pvc post to hold them in place. I made them slightly off balance to simulate a set of frames that wasn’t perfectly matched.
They are set 4″ apart and are centered vertically about where a frame would be. The spinner rig is the same height as it would need to be for full frames. Now that everything looks nicer, we have to ask, will it blend? I got out my zip tie GoPro mount and shot a tiny bit of footage.
Looks good to me. I only had two issues crop up. First, the hose barb is soft brass. The chuck teeth really dug it up and caused some shavings to come off. Next time I will tighten harder, and wrap the area with tape. That way any shavings that do come off don’t get into the honey.
Lastly, as I was taking my GoPro off its mount, the buckle clip broke. I own dozens of GoPro accessories. Most are cheap aftermarket knock offs, or something I built. But no, the first one I break is an official part! Oh well, at least the extractor looks like it will be a success.