Extracting your honey is part of what makes the entire beekeeping process complete because the honey is where you will be getting your profits from. But, at the same time, you also need to keep your honey extracting equipment clean enough for the next use. After all, you need your honey to be clean enough for you to be able to sell it. In that case, how do you clean your honey extractor?
Scrape out any of the honey left in the extractor using a spatula. After that, fill the extractor with cold water. Keep the opening closed and leave the extractor overnight. From there, empty the water out, repeat the process until there is no more residual honey, and use a mop or a kitchen towel to wipe the extractor clean.
The truth is that cleaning a honey extractor should not be the most difficult thing you can do if you are a beekeeper. However, what it needs is a ton of patience from you because of how it can become a long process that can be repetitive as well. The good news is that, for most beekeepers, they don’t exactly use their honey harvesting equipment that often! It will probably be awhile before you need it again. Still, make sure that you know how to clean your honey extractor properly so that it will be clean and ready to go for the next harvest.
Why is it important to clean your extracting equipment?
If you are an aspiring beekeeper and you just started your journey as an apiarist, it is important to note that you will be needing not only your bees but different tools or equipment that you will be using throughout the entire endeavor. Of course, because honey doesn’t extract itself, you will need a way to extract it.
In some circles, the honey extracting equipment tends to be the last one on the shopping list of an aspiring beekeeper because it can be quite expensive compared to the other equipment. As such, it might be very useful, but those who can afford to purchase one as part of their initial investment are the only ones who tend to buy them. That’s because there are other means for you to extract your honey without using an extractor.
Still, we are not here to talk about the other means of extracting honey. Instead, we are here to talk about you and your honey extractor in case you purchased one at the start of your beekeeping journey or along the way when you already had the means to buy this equipment. So, for those who have honey extracting equipment, you should know for a fact that it is important for you to clean it.
But why do you have to clean your honey extractor? After all, your honey will have to go through a process of filtering and cleaning later on down the line after extracting it. As such, what is the purpose of actually cleaning your honey extractor?
First off, honey isn’t exactly clean when you first extract it from your honey supers. While bees do a good job of making sure that the honey they produce is quite clean, the fact is that there are still sediment, debris, and even larvae in the honey after extracting it from your supers. That’s why honey usually goes through a filtering process after extraction, even though using the extractor is already good enough to clean and filter out the undesirables.
In that case, because the honey extractor will be dealing with honey that isn’t exactly clean, making sure that the extractor is as clean as possible before you use it will decrease the chances of having unclean honey at the end of the extraction process.
Second, even if the honey extractor was clean before using it, and even if your honey is quite clean, you still have to deal with the fact that there will still be residual honey left behind in the extractor at the end of the extraction process.
Honey is a substance that is gooey and sticky enough to the point that it will be quite difficult for you to completely remove all of it from the extractor. This means that there will still be residual honey sticking on the sides and on the bottom of the honey extraction equipment after you have extracted it precisely because of how sticky, thick, and gooey this substance can be.
So, if residual honey builds up in your extracting equipment, this should be a cause of concern because of how the extractor will become a breeding ground for all kinds of organisms. This can include bacteria, mold, pests, and other similar smaller organisms that will try to feast on the residual honey inside the extracting equipment.
All that said, it becomes quite easy to understand why there is a need for you to clean your honey extracting equipment. You don’t want it to end up producing dirty and unclean honey or become a breeding ground for all types of micro-organisms. In that case, be sure to keep an eye on how clean your extractor is if you want to do your job well enough as a beekeeper or honey bee farmer.
That aside, if you want to save money while making sure that you are using the best mode of extracting honey, you should join a honey bee farming association that will allow you to rent out or borrow a honey extractor. Or, if you have a mentor or a good friend who is also in the same business, you can try renting or borrowing an extractor from him or her.
Another thing that you need to know is that, regardless of whether you own or have borrowed the honey extraction equipment that you are using, it is important that you should actually clean it. What we mean by that is that you shouldn’t leave the cleaning up to your bees.
There are some circles and honey bee “experts” who would say that the best way for you to clean your honey extracting equipment is to leave it out for the bees to clean because they will collect and recycle the honey themselves.
While that can be helpful for removing the residual honey inside the extractor, you should know that there will be different bees from different colonies or even different insects that will try to “clean out” the honey from the extraction equipment. What happens is that there will be a chance for them to spread diseases from one colony to another when they are sharing the same space inside the extractor. As such, never follow this advice. Just stick to actually cleaning the honey extractor instead of letting your bees do it for you.
Do you clean honey extracting equipment after every use?
Now that we have established why there is a need for you to clean your honey extracting equipment, you might be wondering how often you should be cleaning it. Should you be cleaning it right after every extraction? Or do you have to clean it after the entire day of extracting honey is done?
It would actually be ideal and great if you could clean your honey extracting equipment right after each and every extraction. After all, this ensures that your equipment is as clean as it should be whenever you need to extract honey again. However, this can be very time-consuming, as you would find out later.
Cleaning your honey extracting equipment will require a lot of time from you, and you simply can’t spend time cleaning the extractor right after every extraction and then clean it again after the next batch. This can be very tedious and time-consuming, especially if you are expecting to extract a lot of honey during an entire day of the extraction.
That said, we recommend that you only clean your honey extracting equipment at the end of the day when you are completely done extracting all of your honey. This way, you only have to clean it once without eating up a lot of time that you could have used for other, more productive things. And don’t worry about sanitation because waiting for the entire honey extraction process to be done at the end of the day won’t be enough time for bacteria and mold to build up inside the extractor. As such, in terms of time efficiency, it is best to clean the extraction equipment only after you are completely done extracting all of your honey.
What are the tools you need for cleaning your honey extractor?
We now have the preliminaries covered, and it is time for us to actually talk about cleaning your honey extractor. But before we get to the process, let us first get to know the things we need to clean the extracting equipment. And don’t worry, because these are just basic household items that you should have lying around the house somewhere.
That said, here are some of the basic things you would need to clean your honey extractor:
- Cold water
- Cleaning towel or cloth
As you can see, these items are all quite easy to find in any household. That’s why cleaning your honey extracting equipment shouldn’t be something that is difficult or expensive. You don’t even need special cleaning tools to get the job done. As long as you actually cleaned it well enough with the tools we detailed above, you should be able to have an extractor that will be clean in time for your next extraction.
How do you clean beekeeping equipment?
At this point, you are probably ready to know how to clean your beekeeping equipment and your honey extractor. We are now going to talk about how to actually clean the extraction equipment so that you will know how to best clean the extractor for the next time you will be extracting your honey. And we actually have two ways that are effective enough in their own right.
Before you clean the honey extraction equipment, you have to do something first so that you don’t leave anything to waste. And we are actually talking about collecting all of the remaining honey that has been left over in your honey extractor. Here is how you do it:
- This is where the spatula comes in because you would have to scrape off all of the remaining honey around the walls and the bottom of your honey extraction equipment. The process can be messy because of how deep an extractor is. In that regard, you would have to expect that your arm will have honey all over it from your wrist up to your armpits.
- If you are not willing to scrape the residual honey from the inner walls of your honey extraction equipment, here is the next best thing that you can do, which is actually easier but more time-consuming:
- Close the honey extractor and make sure that its valve is firmly sealed so that the honey won’t leak out of it when you are doing this method.
- From there, tilt the extraction equipment towards the valve gate without opening the valve or the gate.
- Leave the honey extractor in that position overnight in a room that is particularly warm. You can actually crank up the thermostat a bit to warm the room up. The purpose of doing so is to make sure that the honey inside the extractor won’t harden and will be loose throughout the entire time.
- At this point, the honey inside the extractor will begin to make its way to the valve opening overnight.
- The next morning, you will see that a lot of honey is near the valve opening. Collect the honey, as you would usually do.
After you have collected the residual or leftover honey that was still in your honey extracting equipment, the next thing you need to do is actually clean it. Let us now go over the two methods of cleaning your honey extractor.
1. Cold water and wait method
The cold water and wait method is one of the most effective ways for you to clean your honey extracting equipment by making use of simple household items. In fact, all you need here is cold water and paper towels. Here is how you do this method:
- After collecting the residual honey from the honey extracting equipment, there will still be honey and beeswax stuck on the walls of the extractor. What you need to do now is to clean them up by filling the extractor with cold water. Using cold water is a lot better than using hot water because it will allow the honey to remain in a more solid state so that it will be easy to clean it off. Meanwhile, boiling water will only make the honey stickier and gooey, which will make it harder to clean.
- Leave the extractor filled with cold water overnight. This is where the patience part comes in as this can take up some of your time. But don’t worry because you probably don’t need to use the extractor again for a while. However, time can be of the essence if you are merely borrowing your extractor or if someone is looking to use it right away after you are done with it.
- The next day, empty the water out of the honey extractor and check if there is still honey and wax sticking to its inner walls. Try to see if you can easily wipe or scrape the residual honey or beeswax. If so, you can just wipe them off using a kitchen towel and dry the extractor completely after using a hairdryer or by leaving the extractor open for it to dry out in the air. Give it a final wipe after the extractor has been dried off.
- If the remaining honey and beeswax are still too stubborn, you just have to repeat the cold water process and then leave the extractor overnight once again. Do this over and over again until the honey and beeswax are easy enough to wipe off.
Again, be patient with this method. It might be easy, but it can take time. So, if time is of the essence for you, this might not be the best method to use since it might take a few days for the extractor to become completely clean. But if you are not rushing, then this should be a good method to use.
2. Hose method
The hose method will require a bit more effort on your part, but it still is quite effective. And the best part is that you don’t have to wait a while for this method to work. Here is how you do it:
- After you have emptied the extracting equipment with the residual honey that can still be collected, the next thing you need to do is to clean the remaining honey and beeswax inside. You can do so by grabbing a hose and then using warm water to try to remove the honey sticking on the inner walls of the extractor. Don’t use hot water because it will melt the honey and the beeswax. Go for warm water instead.
- Keep on hosing the insides of the honey extractor until you see the stubborn honey and beeswax starting to soften up. Try to wipe them with a kitchen towel or a cloth or even scrape them using a spatula. If they are already soft enough to wipe off, completely wipe them off and then finish the process by using soap and water to rinse the honey extractor.
- After rinsing the extractor with soap and water, allow it to air dry. You can also use a hairdryer to dry it off.
- However, if the honey and beeswax are still too tough to wipe off, keep on hosing until they soften up.
The problem with this method is that it might be easier to do, but it might not be as effective at softening up honey and beeswax that are stubbornly clinging to the inner walls of your extractor. So, if it doesn’t work, try using the cold water method instead. But if you are rushing, this should be the quicker method that you can use.