My wife and I have been making honey sticks (or honey stix) for some 6-9 months now and they do seem to be fairly popular. But that’s where the problem lies. We basically make them by hand. This is fine for making a small number for samples, but really does get tedious when making them by the hundred. (For those who don’t know, honey sticks are simply drinking straws filled with honey and sealed on both ends. This is great for a snack, to carry when you need to increase your blood sugar (apparently it’s better than table sugar), or to take to work or a restaruant for your coffee or tea)
Initally we used a large plastic syring from US Plastics, and this did work well, but was really slow as you had to refill the syring after every 10 or 12 sticks. We did find that using a device to hold a dozen straws made the sealing pretty easy with an impulse sealer, but filling the straws was a big problem. We have since switched to a stainless steel pressure tank, the kind premixed carbonated drinks came in. The tank is connected to a air compressor and a hose with a nozzel and valve to fill the straws. This works quite well so long as you keep the tank warm so the honey flows quickly. But this still takes quite some time and is still very labor intensive (and gets quite boring). I really have better things to spend my time on.
So an exaustive search for a honey stick machine was made. Unsuccessfully. There are (or were) two such machines on the market.
- Goldrush from www.anthonysbeehive.com. This is a manual machine and really isn’t any better than what we are already doing. I also think it heats the honey up too much and it appears the straws aren’t sealed exactly on the ends so they need cut and/or washed out after sealing them. The price is around $600 and claims to be patent pending. Most disturbingly it appears the owner may not be very trustworthy several reports of machines not delivered and refunds not made (or only partially made) posted on beesource. Plus the owner use to sell them on ebay but his account was mysteriously closed.
- The Sticky Machine from Busy Bee Farm. This machine looks like it has promise as it is more fully automated. I did manage to contact the owner and unfortunately the machine is no longer being made. The owner did state that another person has taken it over but does not know when he may begin making machines. (Another source indicated that this has been the story for the past several years, and given the lack of updates to the Busy Bee Farm website it could very well be true). In addition the machine does appear to have some fundamental problems involving the sealer that needs cleaned every 100 sticks and the video on the website shows that the finished stick must be manually removed. The machine costs $3000 delivered (2003 prices from the website) and appears to be protected under us patent 7,047,709. (Note: the abstract of the pantent makes it appear so general as to apply to any automated honey stick machine ever made, though the actual text of the patent is much more specific in it’s claims.)
That pretty much sums it up. There are two machines, but don’t expect to get ahold of either of them. (If anyone is interested I’d be happy to post the deails of how we fill our honey sticks currently).
So I’m now working to develop my own honey stick machine before my wife decides to lynch me when the next honey stick order comes in.