Showing posts with label Beekeeping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beekeeping. Show all posts

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How to Make a Honey Extractor

Photo: Wikimedia
In order to get honey from your beehive, you have to be able to extract the honey from the honeycomb. In order to do this, you have to have to have a honey extractor. There are manufactured honey extractors available on the market, they typically cost approximately $200 to $300, the average cost of starting a new hive of honey bees. If there is a group of beekeepers in an area they will sometimes pool their money together to purchase a honey extractor that they share. If you are not in a large beekeeping environment and do not want to spend a few hundred dollars on a manufactured honey extractor you might want to make your own.

The materials you will need to build a honey extractor include; a metal rod that is at least one meter long and is thickly threaded, two bicycle wheel rims, two pieces of wood, one meter of 2-3mm fencing wire, a large metal drum, ten bolts for the metal rod, four 400mm sections of 8mm threaded rod, a self centering bearing, six coach screws, and one pillow block bearing. When choosing a large metal drum for your homemade honey extractor make sure that is was never used to store potentially toxic materials. The tools you will need for constructing your honey extractor include; an electric drill, a welding machine (and preferably some welding experience), a socket set, and a hacksaw.

The first thing you're going to do is remove the end of the drum that does not have two pouring holes, the newly opened end will be the top of your honey extractor. Use the coach screws to attach one of the pieces of wood across the bottom of the drum. Once the wood is in place use coach screws to secure the pillow block. After inserting the threaded rod through the centre of the first bicycle rim, securely bolt the rim to the rod approximately ten centimetres from the end of the rod. At the opposite end of the rod you will want to thread a but for the other wheel, the second wheel will rest on this nut. When both of the wheel rims are in place you will want to drill holes in four spots around each wheel, when this task is complete you use the 8mm rods to lock the wheel rims together. Use two nuts onto the rod. Make sure that two cm of the rod protrudes.

When this is complete you are going to cut a slit that is10mm deep and 3mm wide into the end of the rod. After this thread the lock and the nuts together at the end of the rod. After you think the nuts are in place use the welding machine to permanently lock them into place. Fasten the wire to the spokes of the bottom wheel rim, approximately 5-8cm from the rim. You have now successfully made the basket of your honey extractor.

Take your newly crafted extractor basket and place it into the drum, settling it on the pillow bearing. Now you're going to want to bolt the second piece of wood to the sides of the drum and the self-centring bearing.

After drilling a screwdriver bit into the chuck, place the chuck into the slit into the slot in the top of the threaded rod.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

California's Almond Orchards

Almond Trees - Photo: Pixabay
The California almond industry is attracting the interest of beekeepers all over the country. The almond orchard's demands for honey bees is so strong that many beekeepers in Florida have actually defaulted on their contracts with local watermelon producers to bring their bees to the west coast where they lease their hives and bees to the almond growers.

Almonds were first found growing a long way from California's sunny landscape. The first almonds were found in China and central Asia. Franciscan Padres first brought almonds to California in the middle of the 1700's, before the American revolution. Sadly Padres efforts were unsuccessful. It wasn't until the early 1900's that almond lovers discovered that California's Central Valley had perfect growing conditions for genetically improved almond orchards. Nearly a half million Californian acres are devoted to growing almonds. It is estimated that there are six thousand almond growers in the state. 

Today, California is the only place in North America where almonds are successfully grown for commercial use. The reason that California is so successful for almond producers is the climate. Almond trees love hot summers and cool winters. Almonds don't like sub-zero temperatures. Because almond trees are not self-pollinating they require the use of bees in order to produce almonds. Every February,  when the almond trees are in bloom, beekeepers set up hives in the orchard so that the growers can enjoy a lucrative harvest. The inability to self-pollinate force almond producers to plant multiple varieties of almond trees.

Almonds are harvested when the split in the shell widens enough for the nut to dry. This typically happens between the middle of August and early October. When the hull is completely open its time for the almond harvest to begin.

When its time to harvest the almond crops, orchard owners have the orchards swept so that they are completely free of debris. Once the orchards are debris free, the mechanical tree shakers are brought in. The mechanical tree shakers gently shake the trees. The almonds fall from the trees. The almonds are left on the ground to finish drying. When the almonds are dry they are swept into rows where they are gathered by a machine and deposited in the huller. 

Nutritionally almonds have a lot going for them. There are only seven grams of fat in one ounce (a single serving of almonds is one ounce). Almonds do not have sodium and cholesterol free. Almonds are an excellent way to get magnesium and vitamin E. Almonds are also a source of Riboflavin, Phosphorus, and copper. 

Seventy-five percent of California's almond crop is exported.