Making honey sticks (or maple syrup) sticks is a straitforward and simple process. The basic steps involve filling a straw with honey and then sealing both ends. The difficulty arises in actually getting the honey into the straw and doing it efficently (so that the time it takes to make them isn’t more than the value of the honey stick itself).
Initally to see if they could be simply made, a sort of proof of concept, and so that we could make some as samples we used a large plastic syringe (pictured to the right) from US Plastics. The tip did need modified slightly to fit inside a standard drinking straw (available from any resturaunt supply store). The tip can be molded by heating it and molding it carefully with your fingers, being careful not to burn yourself. It does work reasonably well if the honey is warm, though is not really suitable for making large numbers because it needs to be refilled every dozen honey sticks, is relatively slow and can be quite a strain on the hand.
Sealing the ends or the straw is a simple task using an impulse sealer (left). Again these are available from US Plastics, on ebay and from many other retailers. The heat is easy to adjust with the knob on the front of the sealer. You will need to adjust it by trial and error until you get a good seal. Do not adjust it by using an empty straw. You will quickly find that it needs far less heat to seal an empty straw than a honey filled straw. (I should also note here that the impulse sealer is also very usefull for sealing plastic bags and even making pollen patties, so it is usefull for more than just making honey sticks.)
Making honey sticks in larger numbers requires a better setup for filling the honey sticks however. Instead of using a heated honey tank, hand pump and manifold that holds several straws, we have used a simple stainless steel pressure tank. This tank (right) is a surplus tank originally used for holding premixed soda (or pop). Mine was purchased on ebay. Honey is placed in the tank and an air compressor is attached to pressurize the tank to 90psi. The straws are then filled using a simple valve with a brass nozzle. It does work better if the honey is warm, though I do not like heating up the honey as much as other systems do and have found this system works resonably well at 90 degrees. Before we start the tank is placed in our honey warmer, but during use it’s placed in a 5 gallon bucket with a band heater to keep it warm (sold for heating up honey buckets by Mann Lake and others).
To make it easier to fill many straws at once, a plastic or wooden bar with holes (and split down the middle) is used to hold a dozen straws at once. This makes it relatively easy to fill and seal several at a time (below). It does make a bit of a mess, hence the newspaper for easy cleanup, but does not make as near the mess as the plastic syringe. Once sealed the straws ends can be cut close to the seal and washed in warm water to make the finished product. With practice you can get to the point where many of the straws are sealed very close to the end and don’t need cut.
I am building an automated honey stick machine as it’s simply getting to take too much time when making honey sticks by the 1000. But if you are looking to make some as samples, or even several hundred at a time, the above works pretty well with considerably less expense than a commercially available system.