For the beginner beekeeper, determining the best way to uncap frames can be difficult. You can go the easy but messy route, which can be done more quickly but will leave you with less honey. Or, you can go the more time-consuming route, which requires extra concentration but results in more harvested honey.
There are many options already out there with all sorts of pros and cons, so how do you sift through them to make the wisest choice? Here at Dadant & Sons, we have a variety of uncapping ideas we think you will enjoy.
Some of our favorite options are:
- Electric Knife (and Capping Scratcher)
- Uncapping Plane
- Uncapping Fork
- Uncapping Roller
Fortunately, all of these options work if you are using one of our high-quality frames.
Using an electric knife (just like the ones we sell here at Dadant & Sons) is by far the easiest way to remove the cappings. Using this method, the electrical knives are heated, which makes it a simple and quick process.
Electric knives are sometimes preferred because they have a cleaner cut, which leaves less wax to filter out in the end. Also, they make for fast work – which is helpful if you’re uncapping a lot of frames at once!
There are a couple of drawbacks:
- The most expensive of the methods
- Finding a place to plug it in near your frames can be difficult
If the knife misses any cappings, the capping scratcher can be used to open what’s left behind. It can also be used for the whole process, but it’s generally messier that way and takes time.
The uncapping plane, like the uncapping knife, uses electricity and heat to make uncapping your frames as easy as possible. However, unlike the knife, it has an adjustable blade. This helps if you need a device that will change how deep your cut goes.
It’s especially useful if you’re a left-handed beekeeper because the rock maple handle is designed to be comfortable from all angles.
The only drawbacks are the same as the electric knife; it’s a bit more expensive than other options and you have to find a place to plug it in.
If you don’t want to deal with electricity and decide to go a more primitive route, you might prefer the uncapping fork. It looks like a hair-pick, with long wiry teeth and a grip handle.
The uncapping fork works by sliding under the wax caps, then picking the wax off of each individual honey cell. Beekeepers like this style because it’s less intrusive when it comes to wax removal and lets you access odd-shaped combs and corners better.
There are a couple of drawbacks to the uncapping fork:
- It takes quite a while to complete the process, which can be annoying if you have a lot of frames
- It’s the most monotonous of the options
If you’re on a budget and want something simple, the uncapping fork (like Dadant & Sons’ top-tier option) is your best bet.
Lastly, we highly suggest using an uncapping roller, especially if you’re looking for an inexpensive or non-electric option. The uncapping roller is covered in small pins, which are used to pierce wax cappings.
It’s a new method for uncapping frames, but some beekeepers swear by it because it’s non-invasive to the frame. This is especially important if you want your bees to quickly recover the frame. Beekeepers also like it because very little wax is removed, meaning not a lot of wax has to be replaced by your bees.
There are just a couple of drawbacks:
- You have to roll the uncapping roller several times in all different directions, which can be time-consuming
- Since you have to roll it, cells are sometimes missed
Contact Dadant & Sons, Your Local Beekeeping Experts, with Any Framing Questions
Regardless of how you decide to uncap your frames, you’ll want to make sure your bees are happy and healthy by providing them with our best bee-feed supplies.
As always, please contact us at Dadant & Sons any time you have thoughts or comments regarding the care of your bees.