How To Harvest Honey – Bees & Beekeeping Information

honey

How to harvest honey in the most efficient way?  This is arguably one of the most common questions of people who want to take up beekeeping as a hobby or something that they can turn into a lucrative business.

Having the right beekeeping tools is the key to make honey harvesting a pleasant and rewarding experience.  A good rule of thumb is to invest in high-quality, durable tools, which in the long run can save you money as opposed to buying cheap products with an equally cheap design.

This is not to say that you should spend tons of money to get your hands on the fanciest brands.  For starters, stick to basic beekeeping tools and just borrow expensive equipment such as the honey extractor from local beekeeping groups or colleagues.

Beekeeping, whether you see it as a hobby or a part of your homestead business, has a fairly affordable startup.  Starter kits, which include 1-2 hives and the basic tools, typically cost under $1,000.

Read on the step-by-step guideline on how to harvest honey.  We also include product reviews and recommendations so you will know the features and functions you have to look for.

1. How to Harvest Honey Safely: Wear Protective Clothing.

Wear Protective Clothing

Before you approach the hive, make sure you're in full battle gear.  For beginners, it always makes sense to invest in a durable beekeeping overall.  At a bare minimum, don a veiled hat and a pair of elbow-length gloves. Knowing how to harvest honey, and how to harvest honey safety is obviously essential to your well-being.

Beekeeping Suits with Veiled Hat

Gloves

2. How to Harvest Honey Quickly: Use Bee Escape 24 Hours Before Removing the Frames.

Bee Escape 24 Hours

While you can collect the frames right away, placing a bee escape between the honey super and brood chamber 1-2 days before you harvest can make it less stressful for your bees.  Also, make sure that you work on your hives between 9 am and 4 pm when they are busy foraging.

Many beekeepers only collect frames from honey supers and leave the brood chamber so the colony will have sufficient food especially during winter. Meanwhile, a bee escape is a piece of board with a small hole in the center that makes it easy for the bees to get out of the honey super and into the deeper box, but hard to climb back because of the mesh wire.  Just make sure that you insert it correctly.

Of course, before you place the bee escape between the honey super and the brood chamber, you should smoke the entrance first.  Remove the top and puff another round of smoke.  Smoke tricks them into thinking that a forest fire is nearby, prompting them to eat honey to prepare for possible relocation.

Ideally, you have to wait for a few minutes to give the bees enough time to gorge on the honey.  When full, they are significantly more docile.

Also, avoid over-smoking because you may taint the taste of your honey.

With a growing preference for a more natural beekeeping approach, bee escapes are becoming popular these days.  While some still use chemical repellants to collect frames straight away, take note that they are not just toxic but are also known to taint the taste of your honey.

Bee blower is another possible alternative although it comes with risks such as blowing away your queen.

3. Beekeeping Tools You'll Need

Beekeeping Tools

Smokers

Bee Escape

4. Return to the Hive.

Beekeeper harvesting honey

After 24 hours, return to the hive.  Use your smoker to force the remaining bees to get out of the honey super before you collect the frames.  A frame that is at least 75 percent capped (others prefer 90 percent capped surface) is ready for harvest.

Harvesting too soon--i.e., the surface of the frame is mostly uncapped--is not ideal because the high moisture content promotes fermentation.  And if the honey becomes fermented, this can be poisonous even to your bees.

Meanwhile, you can remove any bees that remain on the frames with a soft brush, which should be used sparingly to prevent over-agitating them.

During harvest, many professional beekeepers recommend keeping an empty deep or a plastic bucket at least 50 feet away from the hive.  While this means walking back and forth every time you pull out a frame, this prevents the bees from swarming around them.  Just cover them with a clean towel.

Another technique to "appease" the bees is to replace each frame right after you pull out one. (That's why it makes sense to buy extra frames.)

Beekeeping Tools You'll Need

Frames

Hive Tools

Honey Extractor

Uncapping Forks, Knives, and Rollers.

Honey Extractors

Sieve

5. Return  Frames to Your Hive

Bee Hive Frames

If you also collect wax (which you can turn into lip balms, candles, lotions, and a myriad of products), it still makes sense to return frames with "empty" wet comb so the bees can clean them out.  After a week, you can remove the empty, clean frames to store them.

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