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New Extractor and a Billion Bees

The old extractor had to go. Good memories, of warm days and the spinning madman dancing across the floor as it spun, are all that are left to us now. It was only right and fitting that another should have the pleasure, as were just borrowing the equipment while he set up his own honey house – still, with a friend’s hive needing extracting, it was time I splashed out and purchased some gear of my own.

I am now the proud owner of a brand new Lega(tm) brand four frame, stainless steel hand cranked extractor. It is a very different unit to use than the old.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel is easy to clean
  • Lightweight
  • Very, very easy to spin – my littlest helper, A, was able to spin it well enough to extract, and he weighs less than the honey from one hive.
  • Nice nylon gate removes honey well
  • Appears to be sturdy enough
  • The perspex lid stops me wearing a glistening golden top from thrown threads of honey
  • It doesn’t vibrate. At all! I mean, the old one needed the counter weight of two adults to stop it running away, and no way could I spin the frames with the drain gate open, or the honey would fly everywhere.
  • Four frames means quicker than two.
  • The honey drips down the new one quicker than the old – polished stainless vs manky galv is a big improvement

Cons:

  • The depth of the barrel is not much, so only about 10L of honey can sit at the bottom before the cage turny bit starts whipping the honey. With my new double strainer, we could extract faster than we could strain, and the honey built up.
  • It cost me heaps.
  • It has somewhat lost that romantic macho appeal, whereby brute force was needed to obtain the apian nectar.

Our first effort at Christening the unit was hampered by bees finding their way in. Not one or two, but most of the hive seemed to pay us a visit. Bees were streaming in through the closed door faster than we could handle. I tried smoke, which produced a very surreal effect – The shed was filled with smoke, with shafts of sunlight piercing the murk like light sabres, Bees sparking into brightness as they flew through a sunbeam, to disappear into the darkness just a flash later. The smoke was wafting from every gap and crevice, giving an external appearance not unlike the lower boys toilets at school, where no nerd and few teachers dared tread. It didn’t stop the bees, however. When the lights were put on, the bees would congregate around and on them (fluoro tubes don’t heat up too much, so no mass deaths), until there were clusters forming. We often turned the lights out, and opened the great door, to watch them stream away and home – yet more were still coming.

We decided we were beaten when there were about a hundred airborne critters between face and frame when decapping, and the fan of their wings as they buzzed by our faces was ever-present. Everything we went to touch needed bees removed first, and my helper A got a sting from lifting the extractor lid. Thankfully the poor little beggar didn’t swell, and he was treated with an anti-histamine, honey on the site and in the gob, and a cold pack and kiss better. My guess is that most of the hive had arrived to join the honey party, and so we closed up and went inside the house for a cold one.

As evening approached, the bees were no longer hanging around the garage, so we opened up to finish the job. My friend Robert poked his head inside, just as the thousand or so bees inside realised the door was open – He pulled back with a yell as a thousand bees poured out of the door like sideways black hail. I just laughed and laughed.

Next time, I will wait until the evening. Even so, working in there with so many bees, we were unconcerned for our safety whilst a few years ago we would both have reacted to even one bee in the house with “OHMAGHAD ITS A BEE KILLITKILLIT BEFORE IT GETS US!!!”. Gotta love the little darlings.

3 comments on “New Extractor and a Billion Bees

  1. Congrats on the new extractor! I was waiting for the billion bees to show up, as that equates to around 20,000 hives. Glad it was only in the hundreds….

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