Blast from the past: how did beekeepers get honey out of their honeycombs?
In this week’s Blast from the Past, Bourne Hall curator, Jeremy Harte reveals how beekeepers used to get honey out of their honeycombs.
He says: "Beekeeping is a Surrey tradition that goes back to medieval times, and traditional straw skeps - with a bonnet made of pieces of sacking, topped by the broken halves of a red-ware pan - were still to be seen up until the end of the 19th Century.
"Today they have been replaced by more practical wooden beehives, but the local branch of the Surrey Beekeepers still keeps up the craft at their apiary behind the Upper Mill.
"The honeycomb, with its hexagonal pockets, full of the sweet liquid, is the reward of their efforts - but how to get the honey out?
"If you just let it drip, some will be left behind. If you heat the comb, a smell of wax gets into the honey.
"This comb separator, from the early 20th Century, tackles the job much better. The cranked handle engages with a multiplier gear to spin the wax comb round at high speeds, so that the honey runs out through centrifugal motion and trickles down the sides into a waiting jar."
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