Bees are a worthwhile investment for any homesteader. Although it comes with great payoff, beekeeping has a learning curve. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect when harvesting honey from your bees.
Step 1: Access the hive
Most beekeepers use a smoker to safely access the hive to harvest honey. Smoke the entrance of the hive and remove the lid, smoking the top. This pushes bees away from the area you’ll be working in. Gently remove the cover; you may need to use a special tool to pry it off if it’s covered in beeswax.
Step 2: Remove bees
To harvest honey from a frame, you’ll need to remove bees from the area. There are multiple methods for this, but the simplest is a DIY bee vacuum. Place the honeycomb frames in an empty frame holder as you collect more honeycomb. Once you’ve removed the frames you want, reseal the hive and replace the bees. Remember to always wear protective beekeeping gear!
Step 3: Remove wax
The precious honey is sealed up inside the protective beeswax. You can remove these beeswax caps with a butter knife, or you can also purchase a specialized capping knife. Tip: Save this beeswax to make homemade candles; it smells amazing.
Step 4: Extract and store honey
For this step, you’ll need a tool called a honey extractor. This gadget spins the honeycomb and collects it at the bottom of a drum. Open the spigot on the drum and filter the honey through a sieve and cheesecloth. Filtering prevents wax and other debris from finding its way into your honey.
Once filtered, the honey is ready to be bottled and enjoyed. It can be stored in Mason jars, where it can be safely kept on a shelf for up to two years. But we have a feeling that it won’t last that long!