May 18, 2012

Honey Harvesting | D-I-Y Honey Press

This morning's project, thanks to my amazing husband Margo, who never ceases to amaze me with his combination of creativity and practicality.
My father-in-law has a beehive on the property. The first year that he tried to approach the hive (in all the wrong ways, against my advice), he, my brother-in-law, and my husband Margo got attacked by some very angry bees. From then on he hired a fellow to come to remove the honey-filled frames from the hive—his payment is a portion of the combs and honey. The first few times honey was harvested, we were given a bit of comb with honey, and I found it a bit difficult and messy to strain even small amounts by hand. So when my husband showed up two days ago with a bucket with three entire frames full of comb and honey, I knew we were going to have to come up with another solution to extract the honey.

I got the number of a local beekeeper who said using his centrifuge wasn't a good option because he only ran it with 17 frames inside. Plans for a D-I-Y centrifuge built with a 50-gallon drum and bicycle rims looked cool, but a bit much for our purposes. It was looking like we might have to do it by hand again, but I was reluctant and Margo said his brother was having quite a time with the mess on his hands for many other frames that he'd been working on extracting for days. Meanwhile, we didn't have *too* much time because we didn't want the honey to crystallize in the frames.

We browsed a few plans for presses. One utilized an automobile jack to provide the pressure force and looked pretty functional. It must have inspired Margo because when I asked him if he thought we could do something similar, he replied "sure" and a couple hours later he had a wooden press structure of his own design finished. We often sketch plans out before making stuff, but in the interest of time, he didn't draw anything up beforehand, just sort of eyeballed it (so, sorry there's no schematic). The jack presses a platform upon which sits the honey collecting basin basin up from below.
From above, an adjustable height arm hung from a short piece of galvanized metal tube provides the upper fixation point for a removable wooden plank that's the top pressure plate for the comb honey.
The comb honey is cut up (important to expose many surfaces to release the honey from the cells) and packaged into drawstring cloth filter bags (since I haven't found cheesecloth locally, I made them myself from sheer polyester fabric that's durable enough to withstand multiple pressing to strain materials like infused herbal oils)
The comb honey is sandwiched between the top plate and a bottom plate with legs (all pine board). 

The honey oozes out from the bag, off the planks and into the basin. I only got to try one pressing with my husband before I had to go to work this afternoon, he did the rest of the bucket and in the end it produced about 4 liters worth of delicious mesquite blossom honey. We think it was well worth the effort as our extraction process was more efficient and easier to clean a larger amount than the by hand method.
Total cost: $0 USD/MXN, all scrap materials (pine board, screws, galvanized pipe, car jack, rubbermaid basin, scrap fabric & hemp twine)


  1. Please would your husband make such a honey press for me?
    If yes, let me know the cost. Thanks and greetings. Grandma Susan

  2. That's great! I am looking to build a honey press and am loving all the innovative designs.


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