Beekeeping is such an amazing hobby and a rewarding experience to have. Sometimes, however, when you're a new beekeeper it can be a little overwhelming due to the many moving parts. In addition, there can be a lot of information to learn with beekeeping. This is especially true when you're learning how to extract honey. Extraction is the process of taking uncapped frames, putting them into an extractor, then extracting and harvesting the honey into buckets and bottles. There are several things that a beekeeper has to do before they can retrieve the sweet reward of liquid gold that is called honey. Lucky for you we have been in that spot as a new beekeeper and know the ins and outs of extracting honey. So here are 5 honey extraction tips to make your extraction process a little easier.
1: Sanitize Harvesting Space
Having a clean sanitized space is ideal when harvesting honey. The reason this is the number one priority is that even though honey extraction can be a messy process, it's always better to make sure everything is clean. If not, you will have to worry about bugs, bacteria, dirt, rodents, and other things that might get into the honey. When harvesting honey, we recommend doing it in your kitchen. Wipe down all spaces you might be using, and sanitize before starting the extraction process.
2: Monitor Room Temperature
When extracting honey, it's ideal to do it in a warm environment of at least 75 degrees or more. 80-90 degrees is ideal. The reason for this is that the warmer the honey is, the easier it is to work with and flows better. So you’ll therefore want to pick a warm day, turn off your air conditioning, and have windows open for ventilation so it’s not too hot, stuffy, and humid.
3: Keep Clean Water Around
Honey extraction can be a messy process. Whenever we extract honey, we keep a bucket of clean lukewarm water around. This helps ensure that we keep our hands, tools, and area clean. By keeping the water hot or lukewarm, it can help get rid of the honey easier, and make it less sticky. We also suggest having clean running water close to your extraction area to make it easier, as well not have honey everywhere you go.
4: Extraction One Day/ Bottle The Next
When extracting honey, it can be a very overwhelming process due to the heat, mess, stickiness, bees, and how much work it can take. One thing that we do whenever we're extracting is to separate extraction and bottling. We just do one or two days of extraction, then clean up the mess. The next day we just bottle up the honey. We've learned in the past that doing it all in one day tends to be a bad idea, because more mistakes happen. Extracting honey is hard work so being able to split up the work in two days will help you out in the long run.
5: Harvest In Large Batches
The last tip that we have is to harvest in large batches. We do this whenever we have to harvest and extract. The reason why is that we want to extract as quickly as possible before anything happens to the frames and honey. Not extracting or harvesting quickly enough can result in wax moths, hive beetles, or other things getting into the frames and destroying all the hard work that your bees have done. So typically we will take a day or two just to go harvest the honey and pull the honey supers off so we can extract.