How To Harvest Your Honey

If you’re planning on keeping bees of your own, or have already started, then you know that a huge part of the fun is actually getting to harvest your own honey. But how do you go about doing that?

It’s not as hard as some people make it sound, so  let’s go ahead and show you how!

How do you know it’s time to harvest your honey?

If you look in one of the top boxes of your hive (often times called a “super”… Supers are the boxes that are above the screen that keeps out the Queen from entering so you don’t have any larva in the screens you want to harvest for honey.) Anyhow, if you look in your “super” boxes and see that the frames are full of honey combs that have been covered with wax caps, then you’re in business!

Pretty much all you have to do now is just remove the honey combs.

But first you have to remove the bees from the “super” box.

First, go out to your hive with your full gear on (make sure it’s light colored because dark colors can scare bees.)

You’ll need to get the bees away from the frames of that super box. One easy way to do that is to take out each frame one by one and use a bee brush to just brush off the bees from that frame one by one.

Alright, so now you have all the frames with your honey in them, but how do you actually extract it?

The first step is to remove the wax caps the bees used to seal the honey into the comb.

You can use a medal knife to remove the caps, and it’s a bit easier if you use a larger blade that has been warmed a bit to make the wax more soft when the blade runs across.

An easy way to keep the knife warm is to have some warm water in a bucket nearby and dunk the knife in there frequently.

Sometimes you’ll need a “capping scratcher” to get the rest of the caps that the knife didn’t quite get.

You can keep the wax that you scrape off for candles, or homeopathic products, etc.

Now you’re ready to extract the honey.

The only downside to extracting honey is that you’ll need a tool called  an extractor. It’s a big “pot like” tool where you put your frame on the inside and you use a crank to spin it. The spinning motion uses centrifugal motion to extract the honey. And there’s not really a better way to do it, so you’d be smart to invest in a quality extractor. You’ll be happy you did!

If you’d like to know more about starting your first hive click here to grab our free beekeeping quick start kit.

Ela Nowak says:

About 8-10 pounds of honey is eaten by bees to produce 1 pound of beeswax.
1 teaspoon of honey = 1/4 ounce.
The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
To make 1 lb of wax we need 12(bees to make a teaspoon of honey) *4 (teaspoons to make 1 oz.) *16 (oz. to make 1 lb) = 768 bees have to make their work.

So… what is the use of crushing up the combs?
Save the comb!!! Save our bees :)

I watched a video of this manual method of honey extraction.
1) Place honey comb in one 5 gal bucket. Use a tool like a flat bottom shovel and crush up the comb. 2)Pour the crushed mixture into a cheesecloth type sack that is inside a 2nd 5 gallon bucket that has holes drilled into the bottm. This bucket with holes sits on top of the 3rd 5 gal bucket that contains the pour spout toward the bottom. Leave it sit overnight and Mr Gravity does the work.

Mrs. Stepan says:

Besides melting the honey combs very slowly so the melt doesn’t get over 140, then cooling it and cutting out the wax that floated to the top, I also heard of another way….
Crushing the comb. I haven’t tried it yet, but to avoid another expensive outlay of money, I just might. I imagine that I’ll remove the comb from the frame, as with melting, and feed it through a pair of rollers.
I wonder how that’ll work….

Fran Stewart says:

I started planning about a month ago to become a beekeeper. I won’t get my first bees until the spring, of course, but I’m having great fun researching. I was delighted to find your website. Thank you for taking the time to put out good information!

The bees will probably show up in my next murder mystery somehow or other. My main character is a librarian (and a gardener), so she’d enjoy bees, don’t you think?

Have you ever tried extracting honey manually (without an extractor)? I think I’d like to try it that way, but haven’t yet found any good information on how to do it. If you have any info, I’d appreciate it.