Are you a honey lover that can’t pass an opportunity to add honey to nearly everything? We hear you! Fresh honey is super tasty and offers lots of health benefits. The reason why today we’ll be sharing with you everything you need to know about how to harvest honey.
Raw honey contains an array of plant chemicals that act as antioxidants. Research has shown that raw honey can kill unwanted bacteria and fungus. It naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, an antiseptic. So, once you’ve established your honey bee colony, it is essential to know when and how to harvest honey.
Though it may initially sound a little intimidating, you have nothing to worry about. However, there are essential steps you ought to master first; with the right tools and equipment, you can be confident you’ll be able to master how to harvest honey like a pro, and start enjoying your honey along with that sweet chamomille tea!
How to Harvest Honey
Open the Hive
Once you have put on your protective suit, approach the hive from behind. Gently press the trigger on your smoker and puff it around the hive. Remove the top of the hive and smoke the surface, making the bees crawl further down into the hive.
Pick a frame to take out. Remember to look for closed cells since that means honey. You might need to use a small crowbar or the uncapping knife to get the frame out.
Remove the Bees
Place the frame at an angle and use the bee brush to wipe off the bees gently. You can easily take multiple frames at a time. Once you’ve taken out the frames you need, you have to take them away from the hive and the bees.
Uncap Honey Cells
Once you’ve made it inside, use your uncapping knife and fork to uncap the honey cells gently. Uncapping the cells is important to be able to extract the honey. Capped cells can be extracted. However, it’s not easy and will take some time.
Hold the frame vertically, then scrape using the knife from bottom to top. Use the fork afterward to pick out any cells that might still be capped.
Extract your Honey
Place the uncapped frames in your honey extractor. If it’s electrical, turn it on and wait. If your extractor is manual, turn the lever to spin the frames.
The honey will be spun around quickly; it will then fly out of the cells and onto the sides of the extractor. The honey will then slowly run down into the spout.
Strain and Collect Your Honey
The final step is to remove all impurities from your honey. There might be tiny pieces of wood, wax, comb, or even bees in the honey. Use the honey strainer to separate the good from the bad.
Once the honey is clean, get out your jars, fill them up, and mark them with your label. Make sure your jars are sterilized to avoid any contamination.
How Do You Harvest Honey for Beginners?
Essential steps every beekeeper should know include:
- Open the Hive
- Remove Bees from the Hive
- Uncap the Honey
- Extract the Honey
- Filter and Bottle Your Honey
When to harvest honey?
- First nectar flow: mid-April to the end of May (e.g., oilseed rape, fruit trees, bushes, sycamore, hawthorn)
- Second nectar flow (main flow): mid-June to the first week in August (e.g., lime, clover, blackberry, willow herb)
- Heather Honey nectar flow: August & September
Harvesting is best done at the end of the flow and when the bees have capped the honey.
How do you extract honey from a hive?
The easiest way to harvest honey from a beehive is using a fume board. A fume board looks like a regular telescoping top/outer hive cover. Still, the inside contains an absorbent material sprayed with a non-toxic solution that the bees do not enjoy.
Extracting the Honey
- A hot knife is used to cut the wax capping off the cells of a honeycomb. This wax capping can be used to make candles. Once the capping has been removed, you can begin to separate the liquid honey from the comb.
- Either electric or manual, a honey extractor utilizes centrifugal force to separate the liquid honey from the comb without destroying the comb. This allows the beekeeper to reuse the frame of an empty comb in the honey super.
- Alternatively, the honey-filled comb can be cut out of the frame, crushed, and strained through cheesecloth.
- The resulting beeswax can be used for candles or other projects.
- After extraction or straining, the liquid honey is allowed to settle for a few days in a closed container and ready to bottle.
How often can you harvest honey?
Most beekeepers harvest honey from their hives two to three times a year or per season. This usually happens between June and September, whenever the conditions are right for them.
How is honey harvested and extracted?
Honey extraction is the central process in beekeeping of removing honey from a honeycomb to isolate it in a pure liquid form. On a filled frame, the cells will be capped over by the bees for storage; each cell containing honey will be sealed with a capping made of beeswax.
Will harvesting honey harm the bees?
If you know what you are doing, the answer is no; harvesting does not harm the bees. You will probably make them angry if they realize you are taking it from them.
When harvesting, you need to be aware of what you are doing. Always make sure that the bees have enough to survive on. If you don’t, you could potentially starve them to death.
If you want your colony to keep producing honey, you need to keep the bees healthy.
What’s the average amount of honey a beekeeper can expect to harvest?
Through a rather industrious process, honey bees make honey from plant nectar. The resulting honey is stored in the hive and used during cold weather or drought as a food source for the hive. Bees work very hard and often make more honey than they need, allowing beekeepers to harvest the excess. On average, a beekeeper can expect to yield about 50 pounds (4.2 gallons) of honey yearly from a healthy colony in a fertile area. However, the amount can vary quite a bit from year to year and from location to location.
What is the equipment necessary when handling bees?
Recommended Product: VIVO Professional Beekeeping Suit
Beekeeping suits: Always have a veil for your face and wear clothing to protect you from stings. You will want to wear clothing that will protect you and don’t mind getting stained.
Enhance your beekeeping experience with this multi-purpose XL beekeeping jacket from VIVO! The lightweight polyester fabric protects against stings while keeping you cool during hot summer days.
The veiled hood is self-supporting and collapsible. It has a heavy-duty zipper that partially unzips for user convenience.
- Elastic sleeves
Recommended Product: Stainless Steel Bee Hive Smoker
Smoker: Smoker, if used properly and not excessively, will help to calm bees. A small smoker is fine for a couple of hives. You want to produce cool white smoke. To do so, you can purchase smoker fuel or use dry pine needles in your smoker.
Beehive smoker made of stainless steel produces safe, cool smoke to help calm bees and protect them from stings during hive maintenance.
Heat Shield protective guard that surrounds the smoker to help prevent burns. The smoker is both easy and safe to use. Mounting Hook on the side of the heat shield allows you to suspend or store your smoker safely.
- Stainless steel
- Heat Shield
- Mounting Hook
Recommended Product: Bee Hive Tool
Hive tool: This is a device that is used as a lever to loosen frames and boxes. Most beekeepers have more than one hive tool.
The Beekeeping hive tool is a mini crowbar that is used to pry apart hive bodies and supers.
The sharp edge for cutting off beeswax as a scraper is a multi-function tool. This Stainless J hook hive tool is made of Stainless steel, making it very hard to bend or break.
- Sharp edge
- Made of steel
Recommended Product: WEICHUAN Frame Grip
Frame Grips: Frame grips are metal pincher devices many new beekeepers use. They make removing frames from the hive easier with one hand—a useful tool to consider.Reliable Stainless Steel and Wooden handle, Convenient and durable to use.
Easy to grip the wooden handle, and lifting the frames out from the hive becomes high quality, and solid.
- Stainless Steel
- Easy to use
- High quality
Recommended Product: Frame Stainless Steel Honey Extractor
Honey extractor: A honey extractor uses centrifugal force to remove the honey. It’s a fairly simple device consisting of a drum or container with frame baskets.
This honey extractor fits shallow, medium, and deep frames and keeps the metal gears enclosed to clean honey. You can hold up to 8 small and medium frames or four large frames to extract your honey.
With this product’s quiet 120V AC Motor, extracting honey has never been easier. The honey gate is elevated 15.25” from the floor to help keep the drum clear of extracted honey and allow a 5-gallon bucket underneath the gate.
The stainless steel drum on this 4-frame honey extractor is 23.75″ tall and 18.5″ in diameter, perfect for extracting much honey at once.
- Steel Drum
- Clear Lid
Additional Tips on How to Harvest Honey
- Be prepared, and do not try to rush the honey harvesting process. Gentle, calm movements and not big, exaggerated ones; will help keep the bees calm.
- Ensure that you are not wearing perfumes, colognes, aftershaves, etc., as this will entice curious bees to fly toward you, making it harder to work.
- Honey jars don’t need to be sealed to preserve them, although you should ensure no hungry bugs can enter, so a tight-fitting lid is recommended.