Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Wonderful History of Honey Extraction

Over a hundred years ago, honey was either eaten straight from the combs or they were crushed, usually by hand, and left to drip to extract the liquid honey which was then put in jars.

The beekeeper would cut chunks of honeycomb out of straw skeps. People dug their spoons into the combs and ate it--both the wax and the honey.

Back then, they didn't know of a way to remove honey from the combs without destroying them.

But the honeycombs had a secret that it would soon be revealed... by a child.
Imagine yourself as a child in 1869. Your father is a Major in the Italian army and he gives you a basket with a string on the handle.
Inside the basket is some honeycomb with the caps cut off and you've been asked to carry the basket.

Would you hold the basket carefully? Or would you do what I'd do? I'd swing that basket around by the string.

That's what the Major's son did. He swung that basket around and something happened--something important--the honey was thrown out of the honeycombs by the centrifugal force of the swinging.
The Major noticed the messy honey all over the inside of the bakset and he noticed the empty undamaged combs.

He saw that it was possible to throw honey out of combs without crushing them. No one had realized that before.

He then set to work to make a machine that would throw the honey from the combs by spinning them just like the basket on the string.
That's where the first honey extractor, came from.

We still use the extractors to this day. Some have hand cranks and some are electric but they all spin the frames of honeycombs.
Once the combs are empty they are given back to the bees to refill. It's less work for the bees because they don't have to make the honeycomb all over again.

After his discovery and invention Major Hruschka decided he'd like to become a beekeeper.
And he did just that.
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