How to Get Some Honey
1. Remove super to be harvested from hive. Even though it wasn’t totally full I wanted some honey dammit so I took 8 frames which were around 50% full of capped honey (the rest of the cells empty). I did this with a bee brush, brushing as many bees as possible back into the hive, then left it out on the deck until dark. By then, they mostly all had gone back home and I just had to brush 5 or 6 off. (Tuesday, Sept 25)
2. If not harvesting immediately, put frames in the freezer to kill any small hive beetle eggs that are hiding in the comb. My freezer wasn’t big enough so I put them in the fridge since it would only be 4 days until I harvested (Saturday, Sept 29). If you’re making cut comb honey you really can’t skip that freezer part or you could end up with SHB larvae in your honey. Gross.
3. Take the frames out and warm them up to around 80 degrees F so the honey flows easily. I used a shop light since our house was around 65 at the time.
4. Cut the cappings off the all comb. / video
5. Place frames into extractor. I have a very special extractor – the Honey Badger – which was designed by my dear Dad and is powered by a high-voltage drill. Materials cost about 1/4 of the price of an entry-level extractor and it worked beautifully. Simple and effective.
6. Turn frames for about 10 minutes at a speed high enough that the honey flings out onto the inner walls of the extractor, but not so fast that the comb falls apart. / video 1 / video 2
7. Turn frames over, repeat until all sides of all frames are empty. Empty extractor into filtering & bottling tank (aka 5gal bucket with a paint strainer on top and honey gate in the bottom). / video / video 2
8. Set frames & equipment out for the bees to clean up. / video
9. For the next week or two wipe the sticky off the doorknobs around the house :)
10. Order some jars, make some labels (no small task for a graphic designer), fill your jars and voila!
I’ve been looking forward to designing honey labels the whole time I’ve been keeping bees but when it came down to it, I’m too cheap and too busy to lavish the time & money it really deserves. Maybe next year.
We only had 10.8lbs (about 126oz) so unfortunately won’t be selling any this year. I will say it was pretty satisfying to finally taste the honey my bees produced, and amazing to see the shiny golden stickiness flowing into the jars. A very, very cool process but still, I think I’m in this for the fascination of the bees more than anything.