beekeeping equipment

A homemade extractor

Several weeks ago after I posted “The great extractor debate,” beekeeper Ivan Rodriguez sent pictures of his homemade extractor. I don’t know what I expected, but his gadget is really cool, and the best part is he now has a 16-frame extractor for less than $150.

In his comment to the post, Ivan wrote:

I consider myself to still be a “newbee.” When I started two years ago I began with 4 packages and a small amount of knowledge. I decided to go foundationless, but I do put one frame with foundation in the middle of the super.

I also decided to build my own extractor. It ended up being a 16-frame extractor but seems to work better with just 8 frames. It is made out of a 55-gallon drum and a stainless steel reel I welded up to hold the frames. [I] used an old 2 hp motor, wired it to a dimmer switch so it has variable speed, found a couple of pulleys laying around that gave me approximately 180 rpm, and added two block bearings. [I] built a base out of a couple of 2x4s and presto for a little less than $150 and a lot of head-scratching I had an extractor. (And the fact that it actually works is kind of a miraculous bonus.)

But I also tried crushing comb and, in the final analysis, I prefer the crushed comb. The honey from the crushed comb seems to have more pizzazz, more depth. I think that is due to the fact that a decent amount of pollen gets diluted in the honey when it’s crushed. It is strained through a piece of cheesecloth and a colander. I like the fact that when I am nosing around the hives, and I find a couple of frames that are capped, I just cut out the comb, replace the frame and continue on my way. So for now, crushed comb is my preference. But it’s still pretty cool to have a 16-frame extractor on site. And did I mention it actually works?

Along with the photos came this note: “The top pulley is missing at this moment. It was scavenged for some other hare-brained scheme.” So remember that as you consider the set up.

Thanks, Ivan. Sweet!

A homemade extractor.

Outside view showing wooden stand. Photo © Ivan Rodriguez.

A dimmer switch varies the speed.

A dimmer switch varies the speed. Photo © Ivan Rodriguez.

Inside view.

Inside view. Photo © Ivan Rodriguez.


  • Looks real nice. When I was a teen, and a new beekeeper, my dad and I built a 2-frame extractor using a plastic trash can (new!), a brass rod that was laying around and a drill. It worked really well. The wax got a little chewed up, but the bees fixed it. That was even cheaper. I don’t understand people that pay thousands of dollars for an extractor for small, home beekeeping.

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