Most of us at some point will need to use a cappings scratcher. Typically there are two uses for the scratcher:
- After using a knife to cut off the cappings a scratcher can be used for places the knife missed. This keeps you from having to “dig in” with the knife and possibly damage the comb. This is especially useful when processing a lot of frames as at least some will be uneven.
- If you’re not using a knife the scratcher can be a slow but good way to open each comb. You can use this method if you’re going cheap and simply letting the honey drain from the combs rather than using an extractor. You can also use this when using an extractor though likely not if you need to process a lot of frames.
So how do you use the cappings scratcher? The important point to remember is that if you use the claw side to “dig in” to the frames you’ll have comb that is clawed up to return to the bees. The point of processing honey in an extractor or using the drain method is that it gets the comb back to the bees so they don’t have to build more next year. If you damage the comb excessively they might not have to build comb but will have to spend a lot of time repairing comb. Clearly not an ideal situation!
So to correctly use the scratcher turn the claw side around and use the back side of the scratcher. This should just poke holes in the comb without digging in. If this isn’t working for you go ahead and use the claw side, but do it as gently as possible so the bees have good comb to work with next season!
Did you use a scratcher this year for harvest? How did it go?