I feel confident that I could write an entire book on honey harvesting, but for the sake of simplicity and your sanity, I will outline the general steps in a few paragraphs.
First and foremost, you must identify the frames to harvest. In my previous blog, I described in detail how to know which frames are ready for harvest and how much to leave behind. Remember, bees make honey, not as a gift to their human beekeeper, but to survive during winter months when food is not available.
Remove the bees from the frames you want to harvest. You can do this many ways, but I find it helpful to shake the bees back into the hive and use a nylon brush to gently remove the rest. You’ll want an extra hive box or container with a lid to place the bee-less frames. Otherwise, bees will flock to these frames.
Move the frames to an INDOOR location for harvesting. Harvesting outdoors results in 60,000+ of your favorite friends finding you for the party.
Remove the wax cappings. A hot knife makes this easy! Keep these wax cappings. They are great for a number of purposes.
Place the frames in an extractor. This is a device that uses centrifugal force to pull the honey from the cells. Extractors come in a variety of sizes and prices, but members of the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club can rent one for just $10 a day! That’s about the best deal in town.
Filter the honey. There are many ways to do this. You can use material like panty hose or purchase a metal sieve made for honey filtering. Either way, the goal is to remove the little bits of wax, bee legs, or other impurities from the honey.
Jar it! There are jars and containers of many shapes and sizes. Have fun creating homemade labels. Give it as gifts or, if you have a large quantity, consider selling it.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for describing the honey harvest process. I encourage you to shadow a local beekeeper in your area, watch videos online, and read up on the topic. Honey harvesting is one of the beekeeping activities that varies the most – the supplies, equipment, tips, and tricks that different folks use range significantly. Honey harvesting is often a pinnacle moment for many beekeepers! It’s what many of us look forward to most throughout the year.
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!