Guy Thomspon (a mutual follower on Twitter) asked me if I would be interested in making one of these.
Having never seen one before my response was something along the lines of “Interesting, possible, distracting and leave it with me for the weekend” What follows is some research, comparisons and link sourcing.
Guy got me started with a link to the fabulous Warre – BioBees website.
Stefan @ Abshof-Imker & Bienenkasten has been kind enough to send me photos of his vintage unit alongside some useful dimensions and notes:
- Exterior dimensions of trough: 620 x 320 x 345 (height) mm from 38mm timber.
- Interior dimensions: 445 x 245 x 308 (height) mm.
- Bottom Grid: 302 x 238 mm, 27 mm height. When inserted, needs to be level with interior divider and narrow openings should point to drain. Photo taken downside up.
- Side Grid: 300 x 290 (height) x 20 mm. The Bevels in side grids to allow honey to flow down. Always insert side grids with horizontal bars showing towards inside, bevels showing upwards.
- Pressing block. Protruding part has hole for hand crank, slit for crank locker. Pressure from crank is buffered by iron plate (last picture). Pressing block 195 x 145 mm, 280 mm height, plus protruding part 175 x 40 mm, 260 mm height.
- Pressing Sack Material: Square, densely woven fabric of c. 100 x 100 cm.
- Pressing jaws. 195 x 283 mm, 40 mm with indentions 10 mm deep, 15 mm wide.
- Pressing jaws x 2
- Side grids x 2
- Pressing block with protruding part
- Securing plate
- Bottom grid
Alex T’s Sketch Up Version
There is also a CAD (Sketch Up) drawing by Alex T that has kindly been made available for download (link). He has also been kind enough to leave a You Tube link so it can be seen in action and a list of further notes:
- The press is intended to be used at an incline, i.e. back (crank) end elevated to allow natural drainage of honey & wax/water out front.
- A sturdy pressing sack holding honey comb must be used.
- A heavy grade of fine poly/cotton/linen fabric must be used for hot-water rendering of wax.
- Keeping the pressing room warm (35C/95°F) is essential to keep honey flowing.
- A bulldog/A-frame 1000-lbf. jack is used, disassembled, stripped, relubed with food-safe beeswax/mineral-oil (and kept coated externally with same).
- It is inadvisable to use wood glues or epoxies in construction. All glues will fail during washing-up or hot-water application.
- Food-grade stainless hardware only! Types 18/8 or 316 advisable. Zinc-plated or mild steel will corrode and taint your honey.
- Prototype built of red oak and waterproof marine-grade plywood.
- Food-grade plastic mesh on the piston and platen grid facings may be beneficially used.
The initial suggestion by Stefan and Guy was Hornbeam. Alex T. suggests Red Oak can be used, while Mike Pugh at Wood Crafts Wiltshire has suggested Beech. A final alternative although possibly difficult to source in the UK would be Hard Maple (Acer Saccharum) which is popular for chopping boards and used in the BioBees version. Having consulted the Wood Database for characteristics we can say:
- Hornbeam – Classed as non-durable or perishable and is susceptible to insect attack. Possible alternatives include Robinia Pseudoacacia (Black Locust).
- Beech – Classed as non-durable or perishable and is also susceptible to insect attack. Probably not suitable as it also reportedly has a large amount of movement in service so may not work well under pressure.
- Red Oak – As per Hornbeam and Beech this suffers from durability and insect attack. White Oak is reported as being better but US origin, however, English Oak is from the same family and reports good resistance to decay and it often used in Barrels.
There are three immediate options for providing the pressure clamping force. The first two rely on using car or trailer jacks either as is or modified and the third is a more genuine solution.
The cheat solution would be a Bottle Jack placed between the end and moving pressure plate. Costing around £30, they are around 220mm long and can give 200mm of compression. However the ratio of compression length to press length might be poor.
Another solution is to use an A-Frame (Bulldog) Jack. Again these are readily available from places like Amazon and cost upwards of £35. Its’s possible that with some modification these provide a similar solution to the original.
The third and final approach is to copy the genuine article and build a Trapezoid (acme) Thread solution from parts. These are available to buy from places like Accu although additional parts would be required.