A Canterbury creation that sucks out 750 litres of honey from beeswax in one hour is creating a buzz in the industry.
Centrifuge technology, more commonly associated with laboratories, is the centrepiece of Beemaxx’s Humma separator – but unlike its gas-guzzling namesake, this Humma is energy-efficient, compact and quiet.
Initially it’s hard to grasp just how it works, but the design is ground-breaking. The Humma doesn’t wait for gravity to separate honey from its pesky wax cells – it relies on G-forces instead. Beeswax is spun at 1,000 revolutions per minute, producing cleaner honey, faster. In fact, it can separate one tonne of honeycomb in an hour.
Beemaxx has patented the centrifugal solids separator in domestic, Australian, European and American markets. In the New Zealand apiary industry, facing threats from imported products, disease and parasites, the efficiency gain offered by the Humma is a real sweetener. Exports of honey are almost $100 million in value and are projected to increase to 1.9 million tonnes by 2015.
Designed by beekeeper Ross Ward and manufactured through a joint venture with Scott Technology, the partnership of innovation and quality manufacturing is already paying dividends, as the calls from Australia and the US add to Beemaxx’s strong local customer base.
Ward wasn’t first in applying the centrifuge process to food products, or even honey, but he suits being a fast follower.
“Some competitors were using the centrific process, but we saw room for improvement,” says Ward. “Others were difficult to run, clunky and too expensive.”
To entice the small New Zealand honey producer base, the Humma would have better value than its competitors.
“Many clients are small-time operators, to achieve any uptake we needed to deliver efficiency gains for a lower price.”
Ward is the archetypical inventor – intelligent, persistent and just mad enough. It’s understandable why he opted to partner with Scott Technology.
“My passion was never in manufacturing or exporting,” he says. “It’s better for everyone for me to stick to refining the design. But I knew this had great potential internationally, so the joint venture just made sense.”
Beemaxx’s expanding clientele will benefit from Ward’s eye for improvement.
“I like that constant innovation process of refinement. If we expanded the Humma’s throughput by 30 percent for larger American producers, then we’d have an edge.”
With an obsession for quality and customisation, you might say Ward is going to be one busy bee.
How it works
- Slurry of beeswax containing honey enters the bowl
- The bowl spins at speeds between 800-1000 revolutions per minute, creating G-forces of 800gs
- The heavier honey gravitates to the outside of the bowl and escapes, in a pure form, through portholes
- The honey is caught and exits through a hose
- Meanwhile, the lighter beeswax gravitates toward the centre (along with other nasty bits like stones, chemical residue and dead bees)
- At the centre is a rotating auger assembly, which scrapes the beeswax off the honey and continually brings it forward
- The spinning motion and auger eventually spit out hard, dry wax for collection into the shroud bottom