Many man-made beehives are rectangular boxes that can have 10 or more aluminum frames for bees to create their combs. These combs are usually covered with wax once the bee has filled it with honey. Some bee keepers use machinery to extract the honey from the comb, but there is another way to harvest honey. After crushing these combs and removing the wax, the honey can be procured without the need for heavy machinery.
- 10 Frames
- Bee brush
- Knife (6 inch chef knife)
- 1 Sheet pan (18 by 24 inches)
- Wooden pestle
- Straining Bucket (5 gallon)
- Cheese cloth (10 sheets)
- 10 wide mouth jars (1 liter)
- Protective Gear (coveralls, helmet, netting and gloves)
Smoke the hive and remove the honey comb frames. A smoker is a tin or plastic canister that emits smoke, which helps to calm the bees as the keeper is tampering with the hive. Once each comb is removed from the hive, the bees are shaken and brushed off with a bee brush or stiff broad brush in front of the hive so they can return to the hive.
Cut the honey comb off of the frame with a chef knife. Leave about an inch of the comb all around, so that the bees can have a good starting point to rebuild the comb. Break the comb in half, fit it onto the sheet pan and return the frame to the hive. Repeat this with all the other saturated combs in the hive, disregarding the ones that are not ready. One hive can render close to 3 gallons of honey combs filled with honey.
Crush the combs with a wooden pestle, which will break apart the wax that is covering each comb, freeing the honey that is inside. Scoop the mashed comb and honey into a straining bucket. This specially designed container has a spout at the bottom, with a filter that keeps the debris, which is the mashed comb and wax, inside of the bucket.
Prep wide mouth jars by placing one sheet of cheese cloth over the top, pressing the cloth about 1 inch inside of the jar, before secure it with a rubber band. The cheese cloth will help to catch any fine particles that the straining bucket missed. Pour the honey slowly from the straining bucket through the spout into the jar. Be sure not to overflow the cheese cloth during this process. When the bottle is filled, remove the cloth and secure it with a lid, before moving on to the next bottle.
Store the bottles of honey at room temperature. Three gallons of honey and comb should yield about 10 one-liter bottles of fresh honey.
Tips & Warnings
- Honey pours slowly, so the dual straining process might take up to 10 minutes per bottle.
- When dealing with bees, protective gear can help prevent injury. A bee keeping suit, complete with coveralls, hat, netting and gloves is the normal gear worn during honey harvesting