Sunday, 6 July 2014

HOT knife vs HEAT gun part 2 - the VERDICT post extraction

HOT knife vs HEAT gun part 2 - the VERDICT post extraction

Well, the experiment is over. Our mind is
made up. If you would like to know the outcome, click the video link HOT knife vs HEAT gun part 2
- the VERDICT post extraction
or the thumbnail above and take a look at the results. We believe most of you
will be surprised with the results. 

So, let’s talk about the outcome. Is there a place for the heatgun in beekeeping? That is a resounding YES. Is it good, great, or fantastic at
uncapping the honey frames? In our view, it is not. It works OK at the best of
times, and only on very specific frames, where tiny air pockets exist in between
the honey and the wax capping itself. In absence of such air pocket, the wax
did not pop open or melt at all. It simply heated the wax, heated the honey
(which is what you want to avoid if possible – although the hot knife also
heats it, so the comparison is on par for both methods), and then the wax hardened
again, thus sealing the #raw honey inside the cup/cell again, never to be
extracted unless further uncapping process, such as the use of an uncapping
fork is used.

There is a valid argument for the use of #heat gun for the
uncapping process in that it reduces the need for beeswax cappings processing.
This does take considerable time if you choose to harvest the cappings, strain them
(to reduce loss of your honey harvest), then wash, clean, melt, filter, and
refine a few times to produce a product ready for further utilisation or sale
to the many beeswax dependent industries, such as cosmetics and candle making. You
can watch our 3 part video series where we cover the beeswax processing for small
home based quantities:




However, the amount of beeswax that is left behind on the frame
itself is substantial as it is not removed by the knife, leaving a mess on the
comb itself. It also leaves the frame dirty and uneven. The hot knife tends to
level the comb nicely to maintain a healthy bee space in between your frames
and the comb is nice and straight to pull in and out of the hive as required during
the hive inspections and honey harvests if done on a frame by frame basis. Then
there is the much reduced efficiency of honey extraction to take into
consideration. All beekeepers are aware of the hard labour that it takes to go
to their apiary location, open the hives, inspect, collect the frames,
transport back to the processing sheds, extracting the honey/beeswax and by-products,
and so on. Then the trip back, re-deploy the honey supers and frames. The work
is immense. Now if you use the heat gun, the yield is almost ¼ or more less than
it otherwise would be using the more traditional, tried and tested methods. So
yes, the honey and wax are returned to the hive, so nothing is essentially
wasted (unless you are going into winter, in which case there is a problem with
so much honey retained inside your frames, but that is a separate issue), but
all that means, is that you will have to make the next visit much sooner, and
extract on a more frequent basis as the bees will fill the frames much faster –
obviously… as they are half full already.

If you choose to use the uncapping fork, then the uncapping time taken
per side of the frame is about the same and the hot knife, AND THEN you have to
deal with the tiny amounts of the uncapped beeswax anyway. Get all your gear
dirty, get the strainer out, get the beeswax washed, dried, processed,
filtered, and poured into moulds anyway.

Lastly, you don’t have the by-product that can also bring in more
revenue, or save on further costs by reusing your own beeswax for foundation if
that is how you choose to assemble your honey frames.

To conclude, this little experiment was fun and interesting to do.
It was certainly exciting at first to see all the beeswax cappings just pop
almost instantaneously, and one would be forgiven for thinking they found a
holy grail in the time consuming uncapping process, BUT… once the entire process
was completed, it was clear that it was just that. A mirage, a fun experiment,
and one that we will probably only undertake to show and teach others about the
pros and cons in our educational courses.

We hope you found this 2 part HOT knife vs HEAT gun
series educational, interesting and that we provided you with an unbiased
objective perspective on the issue. We appreciate your support and trust we can
see you come back regularly to check out our weekly video updates. We value
your feedback and invite you to SUBSCRIBE.
Enjoy your beekeeping!

Music composed, performed and provided by Groovey - Adam Kubát a Pavel Křivák. You can visit their website on:
Also, a big thank you goes to Train Robbin'Scoundrels for providing "their royalty free music "Murrow's Boys". We appreciate your kind contribution.

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