As with any harvest, you have to work hard to collect the honey from your beehives at the end of the season. Honey extraction can be a long, messy process, but the reward is more than worth it. You can make your honey harvest even more successful by preparing all the supplies you’ll need and taking extra caution with your bees. Prepare for a happy, delicious harvest with these tips for extracting honey from a beehive.
Tools You’ll Need
Before you begin the harvesting process, you need to make sure you have all the necessary supplies on hand. Many of your regular beekeeping essentials will come in handy when you’re working around the hives and handling your hive frames. Make sure you have your protective clothing—especially your hat and veil—on hand. You should also use a smoker to keep your bees calm while you approach and work within the hive. A standard hive tool is also useful for prying up your frames. In addition to these tools, you might also want to obtain a honey extractor, an electric uncapping knife, bee-clearing agents, and other extraction tools and accessories.
When it comes time to collect your honey, the first step is to remove the honey frames from your beehives. Do your best to coax your bees out of the honey super ahead of time. You can do this by inserting a bee escape or using a bee-clearing agent to keep your honey bees away from the super. Once the bees have cleared out, you can pull the frames you want from the hive. Make sure the honeycombs on the frames are capped with wax—if they don’t have cappings, they aren’t ready for extraction. Use your bee brush to gently remove any lingering honey bees from the frame, and take it to your extraction set-up.
Uncapping your frames and using the extractor can take a while, and bees will smell the honey you’re handling. Make sure you set up in a ventilated room that your bees can’t access. Once you have your frames, use a heated electric knife to scrape across the frames and remove the wax cappings. You can keep these cappings to make candles, lotions, and other beeswax products. In the meantime, place your uncapped frames into the honey extractor. Make sure the frames are well-balanced so that the extractor runs smoothly. You should also work in warmer temperatures to allow the honey to heat up and flow better.
Harvesting your own honey is just one of the many satisfying parts of being a beekeeper. Now that you know these top tips for extracting honey from a beehive, you’re ready to harvest your own hive’s honey during the next harvest. Head on over to Kelley Beekeeping for our beehive starter kit today.
What tricks do you use during harvest time? Share your advice in the comments below.