I’ve just spent the last couple of days preparing my backyard hives for winter. This mainly involves removing any excess stored honey and , in the process, reducing the hive size and checking and organizing the brood chamber for the cooler weather ahead.

As a result I ended up with 10 or so frames of honey to extract and so began setting up the extracting equipment in the spare room. During a coffee break I mentioned to my wife how I really needed to improve on my boiler system for the steam heated un-capping knife. Over the years I had used a variety of boilers and heating devices, including old pressure cookers on gas camping stoves and electric hotplates and modified electric rice cookers, none of which were entirely satisfactory.

After a bit of thought she said “Why not try the little coffee machine we were given by the neighbours a couple of years ago”. I had totally forgotten about this little EM4800 which had been stored away un-used since the neighbours ‘up-graded’!! to a fully automatic Saeco.
Rather surprised by her suggestion I decided to see if it would be suitable.

It proved to be a quick and easy job to pull off the panarello and unscrew the little nozzle from the steam wand so the plastic tubing of the steam knife could be pushed on. With the tank full of rainwater and the power connected I soon had my steam knife hot and ready to start uncapping.
As a steam boiler it proved surprisingly effective, with the flow rate quite adequate to keep up with the knife and the added advantage that it could simply be turned off after uncapping every two frames while they were spun in the extractor.

Later in the day, with a large bucket of very nice honey to show for my efforts, I happened to ask my wife why she thought of using the coffee machine. That’s when she admitted to realizing that I might ask to use the electric pressure cooker I had bought secondhand for the purpose some time ago, and which she had subsequently commandeered for the kitchen because it was too good for me to use.

Amazing how inventive some people can be when it suits their purpose!