Although the change was slow in coming, the invention of the extractor brought a revolution in the beekeeping industry. To extract the honey from the combs and return them to the bees to be filled again, opened great possibilities to the honey producer. During the good honeyflows, supers of drawn combs were filled at a surprising rate and the average yields greatly increased.
The change brought a new product to market. Since, at that day the common method of taking honey was to cut the combs from box hives or crude hollow logs and sell it in bulk, it was anything but attractive in appearance. Too often there was much pollen in the cells and sometimes brood as well. Bits of wood, leaves, and other refuse were likely to be mixed with the honey, due to careless handling. The public had come to expect
76 History of American Beekeeping that kind of product. Liquid honey was known as "strained" honey and was secured by mashing the combs and hanging them in cloth bags until the honey drained away. Sometimes the honey was heated to the point of melting the wax, when the honey was darkened and the flavor changed through too much heat. It was impossible to secure a high grade of liquid honey by such methods.
Beemen found the late type radial extractor successful.
The extractor changed all this. The cells were uncapped by a sharp knife and the honey thrown out in the machine. It was clean and unheated, and several shades lighter in color than the honey then known to the housewife. The new product was slow to gain public confidence. Instead of meeting popular favor as the beekeeper expected, it aroused suspicion.
The Dadants have told in the old bee magazines of difficulties in disposing of the first extracted honey. About 1870, they had about 300 pounds of liquid honey to sell. C. P. Dadant, then a young man, went to Keokuk with a sample to dispose of it. His sample was too light and clear, and was regarded as sugar syrup. In fact, some of the customers told him that when they wanted sugar syrup they would make it themselves.
Previously Dadants had put up honey in small frames which held about three pounds each and packed them in crates with glass at each end. To dispose of the crop they often went on a river steamboat to St. Louis, and the shipment was often much admired by the crew and passengers.
The trade, long accustomed to the sight of honey in the comb, refused to have anything to do with the liquid product and refused to believe in its purity. In spite of their best efforts, many believed that they were manufacturing the product instead of getting it from the bees as they previously had done. The worst slander was from a local man who thought that he could not eat honey. He stated that honey made him sick, but that he liked the stuff that Dadants made. He said that he did not know what they made it of, but probably good sugar, and that it was just right for him. In the face of such an attitude, it required much tact and patience to convince the public and dispose of the crop.
The first extractor. Original "smela-tore" of Major von Hruschka now in Apicultural museum in Vienna. This was operated by swinging at the end of a rope.
The difficulty was greatly increased by the fact that adulteration of the extracted honey sold in the cities became general so quickly. Since suitable containers were not then available, it became a problem to place the product before the buyer in a suitable quantity. At first much of it went to market in wooden pails holding about twenty-five pounds.
These were given a coating of wax mixed with a small quantity of lard to prevent leaking. On the 20th of October, 1874, C.
P. Dadant took a boat for St. Louis with 112 of these pails and 15 cases of comb honey. Such a quantity of honey from one apiary was rarely seen in those days and it caused something of a sensation.
For many years it took a great deal of personal argument and instruction to convince the buyers that liquid honey was a dependable product, and the difficulties were not greatly reduced until the passage of the pure food laws many years later.
The problem was further complicated by the tendency of extracted honey to granulate. This natural change was not understood and required an endless amount of explanation. Adulterators took advantage of this fact to accuse honest honey of adulteration and to claim purity for their own because it did not granulate, when just the opposite was true.
When the beekeeper began to use the extractor he was astonished to see how fast the honey came in. In his enthusiasm he often extracted honey before it had ripened and fermentation was the result. There were many lessons to be learned before he was able to make proper use of his new tool. A. I. Root even went so far as to propose to empty his cistern in which to store his honey. Much honey was stored in barrels and after it was fully granulated, it offered something of a problem to get it back to the liquid state. It was common practice to remove the head of the barrel and to dig out the honey with a bright new spade. For many years barrels were the common containers for large quantities of honey.
After the sixty-pound can came into common use, it provided a satisfactory means of handling the product. Tightly sealed, it could be kept for a long period free from dust and dirt, and could be restored to liquid form by heating before removing from the container.
The extractor largely has been responsible for the great expansion of the industry, whereby outyards and large scale production have resulted.