Peter usually does the spinning and I do the decapping. Four Farrar frames fit in the spinner so we need to synchronise the decapping in order that we don't have too many frames piled up waiting to be spun. Once the wax is removed the honey may escape (especially if it is very runny which was not the case with this particular frame) but even if this happens it is collected in the decapping basin where it runs off from the wax and is collected in a honey bucket. I always wear gloves for decapping because it is a very messy process especially if the frames are uneven and if they contain very fresh runny honey.
The frames can be very heavy so they are balanced on a spike which you can see in the photos, this also helps to rotate the frame as both front and back have to be decapped.
There are machines for decapping on an industrial scale but our own volumes don't warrant that kind of investment. Mesimestari sells an electric decapping comb which slices through the wax covering each cell. I assume it uses heat to do that so I'm not sure what the effect is on the honey. Anyway, our bottleneck is the spinner so there is no point speeding up the decapping process.
Decapping is a repetitive asymmetric process so after a few hours the tendons in my right hand and forearm start to ache and also the muscles in the neck and shoulders. Standing on a concrete floor is hard on the legs and back. But this year we are pacing ourselves over three nights. We make tea and coffee in advance and we have background musak: the first night was Finnish Iskelma (we were too sticky to find a different wavelength) and the second night was Classic FM. I think there is still room for improvement in the audio department!
Best of all, Thomas came to help on the second night so I was able to get to bed early (about 2 am) - he was very quick and efficient and is much stronger than I am. We can decap and spin about 90-100 frames during a 6-7 hour night shift. Then the whole area and all the equipment needs to be cleaned to remove splashes of honey which might attract bees or wasps during the day.
The wax is recycled and the frames are reused unless they have become very "dark" in which case we dispose of them as they could attract disease and pests like varroa. Most of our frames are quite new (1- 2 years old).