Beekeeping has made me over use the phrase, “I am done, but not completely”. I say it often since I caught this buzz. This years extraction is over, but I am still not done completely. I have no buyers for 5 gallon pails so everything needs to be bottled. It has to be the most tedious part of the entire process. Luckily I have a good helper. My daughter has been assisting, wiping off drips and spills as well as capping the bottles.
All of my 5 gallon pails and honey gates came from a beekeeper I bought out about three years ago. I knew nothing of what I was buying and thought from the way “honey gates” were described that they would dispense honey cleanly with no drips or mess. At least in my case that has been a pipe dream. When we first started I had a bowl on the floor under the pail because of all the dripping. It was frustrating seeing the product of so much work NOT ending up in a bottle.
This was remedied with the use of some parachute cord. If you’ve never used a honey gate before before it may be a little hard to follow here, but bear with me. The weight of the honey was prying the gate out away from the opening ever so slightly. This was causing honey drips to form on the sides of the gate where the bolts are located (see picture). These drips would then fall on the bottle, my hands, or into the bowl on the floor. The parachute cord was fastened to the handle on the gate then wrapped around the bucket a couple of times, and tied. This held the gate flush against the opening and made the drips stop.
Our method is to get all of the bottles ready, open the gate, and not close it until the bucket is empty or we run out of bottles. Once you get the hang of it you can transfer bottles with very little waste or mess. The full bottles are handed to my lovely assistant who wipes off a very small drop of honey and sets them off to the side awaiting a cap.
It was pretty much smooth sailing except for a couple small mishaps. As long as everything is going O.K. things are great. However every once in a while something will go wrong and you will have a mess on your hands. What happens to me normally is that a small mess will begin to happen, I will overreact and create a HUGE mess. All you can do at that point is maintain your composure and try to get back in the rhythm.
Am I done with bottling? NOT COMPLETELY!!!
Any comments or questions? Does anyone know of a better honey gate for bottling?