Extracting honey every August for 20 years has honed my honey house preparations. Similar to painting, the prep takes longer than the actual work. I never extract in the house, as it will bring stray bees in along with the frames. I have a potting shed adjacent to my bee yard which I have set up as my honey house. Lacking running water and electricity is not a problem. I use a heavy duty extension cord to provide power (extractor and capping knife) and a tub of fresh water for any necessary cleanup and wiping up.
My potting shed becomes a honey house simply by clearing out a large area in the center to place the extractor and clearing off a nearby counter for the uncapping process. Covering the floor area with an inexpensive plastic cloth makes the cleanup aftermath a breeze.
Crucial to any extraction operation is a bee tight area. Once your bee-free frames are in the extraction area, you don’t want any stray bees from your hives to be attracted to the free honey that looks to be easy pickings. Many agitated bees flying around your head while you are extracting honey is not a good scenario. So, screened windows and a bee tight door are essential.
Good airflow provided by a good strong fan is very helpful. The extraction process goes smoother in hot weather as the honey flows better in warmer temperatures, but that means that I am stuck in a hot shed for a couple of hours. I set up at least one powerful fan to move some air around, which has the added bonus that stray bees are less likely to land on me.
- Bee-tight building
- Power cord and strip for at least 2 outlets
- Roll of paper towels
- Basin of soapy water with a rag for wiping down sticky messes
- A cooler of cold drinks ( I use water, but beer is fine!)
- Plastic drop cloth for covering the floor
- Roll of brown paper for covering a countertop
- Uncapping tank with screened bottom
- Hot knife and scratcher/fork — I set my hot knife on a cookie sheet to keep it from burning the countertop
- Scale — It’s nice to see how much you extract
- An extractor that is bolted to a base to minimize wobbling
- Food-safe bucket with a gate valve
- Metal strainer for filtering honey
Below is my setup that I used recently. I placed everything in advance as I didn’t want to have to return to my house for things that I had forgotten. Ice water for hydration is essential as the days in August in my area can be in the 90’s.