DIY Honey Extractor Out of Plastic Buckets

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This honey extractor is large enough to hold two standard hive frames loaded with honey.
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Using plastic pails and an electric drill to power a spinner, James Noble extracts honey.

Spending hundreds of dollars on a honey extractor for his few hives didn’t make sense to James Noble, so he built his own. It needed to be big enough to hold two standard hive frames loaded with honey (about 6 pounds each). Using a plastic pail and an electric drill to power the spinner, he’s able to extract honey without damaging the delicate comb.

“I’m a hobby beekeeper with just three hives. I only need an extractor for a day or two each year,” says Noble.

To make the extractor, Noble needed a chamber, a spinner with a central rod with mounts for the frames, and a way to seat the spinner in the chamber. For the chamber, he selected a food-grade 7-gallon pail. It’s slightly taller than a 5-gallon pail with a similar diameter. He bought a 1-1⁄2-inch honey gate, available through beekeeping retailers for $10 to $12, and installed it over a hole cut near the bottom of the pail.

The spinner was made with a 36-inch-long, 3⁄8-inch stainless steel threaded rod and frame holding boards cut from heavy-duty, white plastic cutting board stock.

“I used 3⁄4-inch-thick stock to give the centrifuge some heft, which is helpful so the frames do not completely dominate the weight,” says Noble.

The top board is a 5-by-8-inch rectangle. The bottom board is an 8-inch hexagon. Both boards were center drilled for the rod. Two 1⁄2-inch square holes were cut out of each plate (opposite each other, not across from each other) to accept the tips of frame top bars. The holes are positioned 1-1⁄4 inches from the edges of the board.

Noble attached a threaded flange with three screws over the hole on the top side of the lower plate. Once the rod was threaded through the flange, a washer, lock washer and smooth end cap nut were attached to the end of the rod.

“The bottom board needs to be fixed in place on the rod, but the upper board needs to be easily removed to load and unload frames,” says Noble. “I put a washer, lock washer and wing nut on the rod to match the length of a frame. A second washer, lock washer and wing nut are used to secure the board when frames are in place.”

To stabilize the spinner in the pail, Noble attached a 2-inch-diameter circle of cutting board stock to the bottom of the pail. He drilled a hole in the center of the bottom of the pail and through the circle. He countersunk a 1⁄2-inch-diameter hole in the top side of the circle, shallow enough to accept a round nut. He placed a 1-inch rubber O-ring between the circle and the pail’s bottom, securing all three with a short screw and nut.

“I created a stand for the 7-gallon pail, with room underneath it for a 5-gallon pail and honey filter,” says Noble.

Two vertical 2-by-4s on either side of the stand extend above the bucket. A removable crossbar with a hole for the spinner rod attaches to the verticals with wing nuts. The crossbar stabilizes the rod.

Once he was done, the honey frames extended out over the top of the bucket’s edge, causing honey to spatter out of the bucket when frames are spun too fast. To add height, he cut the bottom off of a 5-gallon pail and slipped the top half (with its larger top diameter) into the 7-gallon pail to gain needed height.

For more information, James can be reached at  

Reprinted with permission from FARM SHOW Magazine.