The best Honey Uncapping Tools
For most beekeepers, harvesting honey is the ultimate goal of keeping bees and the first step is using honey uncapping tools to uncap the honeycomb. The methods and technology utilized by beekeepers in the task of uncapping honey vary vastly. Any way you do it, it’s very satisfying!!
The honeybee has honey production down to a precise science. Using their wings, the bees fan the honey to evaporate any excess moisture until the saturation of the honey is 17%. They then seal off each comb with a wax capping. Sometimes, beekeepers choose to harvest from the honey frames prior to the bees having had the opportunity to cap the cells. This means the honey has not ripened and will still have a water content higher than is optimal. Dehumidifying the frames is then needed prior to extracting the honey.
Dehumidifying is a whole other discussion in itself and not one we have time for here, but we will be discussing uncapping and removing the tiny layer of wax with the least amount of damage to the cell walls. In this way, the bees can then reuse the same cells to store more honey next time.
As a beekeeper, I believe there isn’t much that is more satisfying to witness that seeing the curl of wax as it is removed from the frame with honey uncapping tools, rolling away to reveal the golden honey goodness below. The tools featured here are usually used on frames that will then be spun in a centrifugal honey extractor. Let’s have a look at the positives vs the negatives of these methods.
Another in the honey uncapping tools arsenal is the heat gun. Honestly, this is a new method for me. Using a heat gun to remove the wax caps off the honey will only take a second or two, eliminating any danger of your wooden frames igniting. The wax melts and shrivels easily. My best suggestion is to start with the lowest setting, wave the heat gun quickly over the frame from approximately 10 inches away and gradually get closer as needed.
- Physically easy to maneuver as no force is required.
- Could be slightly faster but very similar to the heated knife.
- Any time honey is exposed to heat, the beneficial enzyme count will be lowered. As the heat from the heat gun is only in contact with the honey for such a short period of time, the effect on the enzyme count may be inconsequential. However, if you’re going for maximum enzyme count with your honey, best to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for any heat gun you consider buying.
- It’s not as neat and tidy as other methods; the melting max does drip down the frame a bit and essentially blocks lower cells. I found the corners a bit difficult with this method too but maybe I’m just not used to it.
Honey uncapping tools include a capping roller. Covered in small metal or plastic pins that pierce through the wax cappings, a capping roller needs to be rolled several times in different directions to make sure all the caps are pierced and the honey can flow out easily.
- No electricity required.
- Non-invasive method– bees recover the frame quickly and reuse for future honey storage.
- Minimal wax removal so the bees don’t have to work as hard to replace too much wax.
- This is a time-consuming uncapping method.
- It’s possible to miss cells because of the nature of the rolling action
An excellent addition to your honey uncapping tools is the heated knife – and it is exactly that! It has a long blunt edge to the knife. You plug it in to heat it up. The blade length allows you to span the honey and the heat melts the wax caps off the combs.
- You can filter out the wax at the end because it provides such a clean cut.
- The result allows the bees to easily do their own clean up job of the hive.
- It’s really quick and efficient, which is particularly important when you need to uncap many frames.
- The knife is the most expensive option for uncapping.
- You will need to do your uncapping work near a power source.
Another great choice in the honey uncapping tools arena is the uncapping fork, which looks similar to a hair pick with its long, teeth-like wires. It easily slides underneath the wax caps and picks off the wax from the honey cells.
- Cheapest option
- Simple to use.
- Unobtrusive to the bees.
- Easy to get in the corners.
- Definitely the method that takes the most time.
Last but not least to be mentioned in our honey uncapping tools is the cold knife. Similar in technique to the heated knife, instead of melting, a cold knife requires the use of a serrated back and forth motion to cut the tops of the caps off. This takes a bit of elbow grease so consider this carefully before deciding on this option.
- Leaves the job clean.
- No electricity needed.
- Takes much longer than the heated knife.
- Requires more physical strength.
Well that’s it for “Honey uncapping tools: the best methods reviewed”. I hope it provided you with some helpful information. So good luck with your honey harvesting!