Harvesting honey

Last week I was up to my elbows in honey, as I prepared my hive for its new residents, arriving sometime the second week of April. My first batch of bees arrived last April, and blogging about their installation was one of my first posts on this blog. Unfortunately, my bees up and left sometime in December, for reasons which are still unknown to me. But, they left behind a hive full of honey and other interesting specimens.

In January, I put the hive atop a wheely cart and visited my kids’s classrooms, talking to their classmates about raising bees and where honey comes from and all that. Ever since, when I visit their classes, one or two children always come up to ask when the honey will be ready. I decided that last week was the time to get to it!


The two supers – the bottom one, closest to you, is the main box with the brood chamber and pollen stores. It is where the queen lives. The one in the back is the second super I added, mostly for more brood, but I think my bees ended up using it for honey storage. 

This is a frame with brood comb built up – the brood chamber is where the queen lays her eggs.

Up close on the brood frame. You can see a white larvae, and just down from that, what looks like an emerging bee.

These bees are actually not alive, but they remained on the comb, and I thought they were really photogenic. 

These are frames with capped and uncapped honeycomb. I use a special fork-like tool to scrape the cappings off. I save them, along with the beeswax from the comb and will melt it and see what fun projects come about.

And now onto harvesting the honey:

My bench scraper came in very handy for this process – I scraped the honey, along with comb, off the frame and into a colander set over a bucket. The bucket is from Safeway – I went to the Bakery and asked for an empty food-safe bucket. They were kind enough to provide one for this project.

After a day, most of the honey had drained down into the bucket, leaving the colander full of cappings and beeswax. I soaked the cappings and beeswax in water for two days, changing the water every 24 hours, and then left the wax dry. I have it stored in a container until later when I have time to melt the beeswax down.

The honey still had some small bits of beeswax floating on the top, so when I filled a couple jars, I strained the honey again. When the honey bears arrive, I will have to figure out another way to get the honey in that is less labor intensive and messy. Perhaps I will look into cheesecloth.

Final product – half-pint jars of Northern California honey! Such a sweet treat 🙂

7 comments

  1. This is amazing – you’re so talented! I bet real honey is delicious.

    mariss last blog post..Skillet Cornbread with Caramelized Onions

  2. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    Oh, I am definitely not the talented one, the bees are. I am mostly just curious. And yes, the honey is delicious! 🙂

  3. My grandfather used to raise bees & would “rob” them in early summer. My sisters & i were there one year & helped. We used a hot knife to take off the caps of wax, & loaded them in a 55 Gal drum that then was spun to force the honey out. It came down & out a spigot, was filtered & bottled. A bit more work than what i’ve said here, but i appreciated the chance to help & know more about honey.

    Thanks for sharing & bringing up nice memories. 🙂

  4. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    thanks for sharing the memory! The Bee Guild that I belong to has an extractor that I could have borrowed, but since I only had one hive and a little bit of honey, I thought the extra work cleaning the extractor would be too painful. Next year, I am hoping that I have a larger honey yield and then I would have to use the extractor!

    Cheers,

  5. I was so excited to find your info. Friends just gave me a hive and the bees had died in late March. They did not want to mess with the honey. It is in the process of draining now. Biggest problem I have is I keep going out on the deck and grabbing a hunk of honey comb to chew on. I am 67 and this experience is sure taking me back to my childhood! Thank you so much for the info 🙂
    granMH

  6. Kitchen Gadget Girl

    glad to know it is working for you! I was so happy to learn about the draining method, it takes a while, but it is something you can have going while you go about the rest of your day. I did find that I needed to strain it again through a finer sieve, as there was still a little bit of wax after the first drain through the colander. Maybe if I had cheese cloth in the colander, that would have helped.

    Happy Honey Harvesting!

  7. Just a note to let you know I have finished my honey from the hive given to me. I got just over 4 gallons using your method. Probably means I have honey until I die. 🙂
    Thanks again for the info
    Gran

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