The National Uncapper

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MartinBee

Beekeeping Engineer
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2023
Messages
41
Reaction score
39
Location
Haslemere
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
14
Hello Queens & Drones, I had that same thought about building my own uncapper after looking at the Harmony Farms Simple Uncapper and realising why the American version only fits the Langstroth frames. When you try it on a National frame, the uncapping blades roll up the outside of the frame and fail to uncap ...

Anyway, i did design and make up a prototype version that suits the unique geometry of the UK National frame size. You are all a fiercely independent and opinionated bunch so i'll expect some frank feedback but i can say that it works really well in trials, is fast and clean (and has the benefit of destroying very little wax on the frames, which as an engineering beekeeper i like because of the energy balance for bees). I think i'm looking forward to your feedback, but it is always a bit nerve wracking when you send your creation out into the world. youtube.com/@TheNationalUncapper
 

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Hi Martin
Will it do lots of frames without getting clogged up?
Hi Dani, yes it seems to work without getting clogged. The one pictured is the prototype and i ran 20 frames through it on our first trial. It does get some of the capping wax between the blades but that didn't impact the performance. Tomorrow I will be trying out version 2, so i'll take some videos and post an update.
After the first trial we have settled on the best combination for the pitch and thickness of the blades, as well as the number, diameter and cross section for the O rings to apply the uncapping force.
 
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ran 20 frames through it on our first trial
Good work, Martin. I spoke to Simple Harmony a few years ago and yes, it transpired that the dimensonal difference was an issue.

What's it like after 200 frames?
Food grade materials, I take it.
Suit Manley? Don't have one to hand to compare with SN.
Depth of cut? Deeper will deal with dips in combs.
 
Popped by earlier as I was in the area and Martin kindly allowed me to have a go, inspect it and ask a few questions. I'm still thinking and want to hear how it performs after much more use but initial thoughts are below:

Looks like a solid design which has been thought through. I was able to test it on some SN4 style frames and it was quick to use and very tidy. Build quality is nice and it's a combination of polypropylene (EDIT/CORRECTION: HDPE) frame with aluminium rollers. Attention to detail excellent with chamfered edges on the frame plus everything being food grade material. Can get the full length of a frame in.

I saw frames which had been spun out following using it and it seemed most of the honey was out although a side by side comparison with 'traditional' uncapping would be interesting. Hard to be sure if the cut width is adequate for full extraction without such a comparison.

There is very little cappings wax produced/collected. This is either a pro or a con depending on what you're harvesting.

For nicely filled flat frames it works effectively on. For more uneven ones I'd like to hear more after further testing - some bulky or very uneven frames will still need a degree of uncapping with a knife although this also helps even up the frames for future use anyway. I'd suspect that it will overall reduce processing and mess even if some frames need to be uncapped manually.

I believe there are a couple of intense testing sessions happening soon, including one local association extraction day, so hopefully there will be a lot more info. on performance.

Lead time is several weeks and the design is being finalised so it may not be available in time for everyone interested this year.

Cleaning looks simple, cold water should do. the trick and it doesn't appear to clog.

20230716_181050.jpg
 
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Are the rollers sharp or do they work by bruising the surface as well? It looks a good and well thought out bit of kit. Even for someone with 10 hives over 10 years that outlay works out at ~ £3 per hive per annum which if effective is a good investment I would say - especially when you think what we spend on jars, medication etc etc and also the amount of time and money cleaning up afterwards in the normal run of things. I will certainly keep a look out for it.
 
Are the rollers sharp or do they work by bruising the surface as well? It looks a good and well thought out bit of kit. Even for someone with 10 hives over 10 years that outlay works out at ~ £3 per hive per annum which if effective is a good investment I would say - especially when you think what we spend on jars, medication etc etc and also the amount of time and money cleaning up afterwards in the normal run of things. I will certainly keep a look out for it.
They're square cut @Martin Godet are you happy for me to share the photo of the rollers here? Too early to know about longevity but as I said it appears solid. The only parts which may need replacing in time and the elastic ring tensioners.
 
They're square cut @Martin Godet are you happy for me to share the photo of the rollers here? Too early to know about longevity but as I said it appears solid. The only parts which may need replacing in time and the elastic ring tensioners.
An option to buy spares?
 
Aluminium can be food grade as far as I'm aware.
Without actually handling the machine I'd have concerns about corrosion following use. Aluminium oxidizes very rapidly in contact with oxygen which in some cases is a good thing but in other cases bad. Considering the actual contact with the product I doubt if it could create a contamination situation but if stored in less than ideal conditions over winter it could deteriorate. Proof of the pudding will be in the eating of course but I'd consider either coating the rollers with high density polypropylene or using stainless steel.
 

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