Harvesting your honey is the best part of the job, but it is also one of the stickiest parts. The soonest we recommend that you extract is once your third box is filled meaning: all 10 of the frames and foundation will be capped off with wax.
If the frames are not capped off, your honey is not ready for extraction, this is especially important in high humidity areas. In dry, desert climates this won’t be as important.
Steps to Honey Harvesting
Remove the bees from your frames and foundation using the Bee Brush MethodItems needed
- Bee Brush
- Smoker - used to calm bees
- J Hook Hive Tool - used to separate frames
- Use a Medium Honey Super that has NO frames in it.
- Bottom Board (or other hard surface) to prevent bees from coming back into the empty Medium Honey Super.
- Bath/Pool Size Towel (optional): This will serve as a top and can easily be moved as you transfer frames and foundation. This will also prevent the bees from going back into the hive.
Best to do on a hot day during the middle of the day when bees are out of the hive.
- Smoke the hive prior to opening in the front and inside after removing the top
- Using your J Hook Tool, pry apart each frame.
- Remove each frame from the Medium Honey Super that is on the existing hive. Upon removing, check each frame and ensure that mostly all the cells are full and capped off with wax. If it is full, continue on to the next step. If the frames are not full, place the frame back in the box.
- Using your Bee Brush, hold the frame on top of the hive and begin gently brushing the bees off from each frame and back into the hive.
- Place the Frames that the bees have been removed from into the empty medium honey super, and cover with the towel.
- Continue this process with each frame until the honey super on the hive is empty. Keep the towel covering the box until you are ready to extract.
This process can be repeated using additional empty boxes, if you have more than one Medium Honey Super in your hive.
- At the end shake remaining bees out of the original Medium Honey Super into the hive. If you are still in honey flow season, make sure and add one Medium Honey Super, back onto the hive, with frames and foundation, or return the boxes used during extraction.
- Using your Bee Brush, gently brush any bees on the outside of the hive, back into the hive.
- Place inner cover back on hive.
- Place Top back on.
Harvesting Honey from Your Frames
Extraction is best done with temperatures above 85 degrees, if temperatures are lower, you can still extract, but the process will take longer due to the honey's thickness.
Make sure and set up your extraction area, recommended items:
- Honey Apron to protect your clothing
- Table – we like to cover with a plastic tablecloth
- Hot Electric Uncapping Knife
- Wet washcloth - to help with stickiness
- 5 Gallon Honey Bucket & Gate
- Metal Honey Sieve
Once you have removed the bees from the frames, take your Medium Honey Super filled with Full Frames back to a clean location and get ready to extract.
You’re only removing the first layer of cappings, be careful not to tear the honeycomb cells.
There are 4 various tools to use for uncapping the wax from the honeycomb:
- Remove the wax capping off by using a Scratcher or Uncapping Roller
- If you’re using a scratcher, gently scratch across the capped surface to expose the honey below.
- Uncapping Hot Knifes can also be used to uncap with heat and expose your honey. Be careful of the hot wax dripping off of the knife.
- Cold knives are like cutting through butter, just cut back and forth across the tops of the wax comb, using a soft sawing motion.
Extracting Honey from the Frames Process
- Place uncapped frames into your Extractor.
- Make sure that your extractor is level and elevated high enough to fit a 5 Gallon Honey Bucket & Gate with Metal Honey Sieve on top.
- Begin extraction, start turning very slow. The frames will be off balance at first, but as the honey begins to flow out of the frames, the extraction will go smoother. After 5 minutes of slow speed you can begin increasing your speed. If you start out fast, your honey is so heavy it might push your foundation out of the frame, causing your extractor to stop and damage your foundation.
- During the extraction process, honey will be thrown from the Frames to the sides of the extractor and will slide down to the bottom of the Extractor. To prevent too much honey build up, open your honey gate on your Extractor.
- Position the 5 Gallon Bucket (with gate closed) and Metal Sieve on top of the bucket and directly below the honey gate on the Extractor.
- You will then open the Extractors honey gate to allow the honey to flow through the metal sieve and into the 5 gallon bucket below. The sieve will screen any wax or debris out the honey, the honey bucket will allow for easy collection.
What to do with the extracted frames and foundation:
You want to save your frames and foundation because of the wax already being drawn out and all the bees will have to do is refill and cap off again.
After all the honey from the frames has been extracted, place them back into a honey super and back onto the hive. Any remaining honey that remains on the foundations, the bees will suck up and put back into the cells.
Check your Local and State Beekeeping Laws if you want to sell your honey. We have found that there are always people willing to take any excess honey off your hands.
Bottling Your Honey
- Jars or Honey Bears to Hold Honey
- Wait 24 hours after extraction to allow the frothing and air pockets in the honey to settle.
- Position 5 Gallon Honey Bucket high enough to be able to easily open the gate and allow honey to flow into the jar.
- Have another bucket or bowl beneath to catch any drippings over overflow.
- Open gate and fill jars.