We put the frames inside of the extractor and it spins around very fast, flinging the honey out of the frames and onto the sides of the extractor.
Then the honey slowly flows down the sides and out the spout at the bottom, where we collect it.
Because there are always some wax cappings mixed in with the honey, I allow the honey to flow through a metal strainer (see image above). The strainer catches the wax, leaving the honey to flow into a collection bucket. After letting the honey sit in the bucket for 24-48 hours, I bottle it up into glass jars, where it stays until someone eats it.
After extracting, I'm not done yet. Yes, was up early in the morning to remove the honey frames from the hives. Then my family helped me to extract the honey from the frames for 6-10 hours. We are all tired and sweaty and in need of cold beverages and a swim. But before I'm done, I must return the frames to the beehive (or sometimes, the beeyard), where the busy bees clean up any remaining honey, polish the wax cells out, and start filling them back up again with fresh nectar.
These frames that I return to the bees are jam-packed with empty wax cells, ready to receive new nectar; they are known as frames of "drawn comb." Drawn comb is very valuable to beekeepers because it jump starts the ability of the bees to make honey. This makes sense, because drawn comb saves the bees a step in the honey-making and storing process. Here is the honey-making and storage process*:
So drawn comb allows the bees to skip step 1 (making honeycomb) and head straight to step 2 (filling the comb with nectar). The bees seem to absolutely love the efficiency of drawn comb, and they go to town producing many, many frames of surplus honey multiple times per summer. If I instead fail to return the drawn comb to the bees, they have to start over all the way back on step 1, drawing out new wax cells before they can store new nectar (step 2). Because wax production is time-consuming, it holds up honey production for the hive.
The reason I just used a whole paragraph to rhapsodize about drawn comb is because it relates to my next honey blog post, which will be all about cut comb honey! Until then, here's an image of some freshly extracted honey--yum! (And let's not ignore the beautiful Calendula inflorescences in the background!)