Honey Harvest

I’ve had a lot of people message and ask for a post detailing how we harvest honey… ask and you shall receive ;).

In Kentucky, late July is a good time to harvest honey. Bees require (at least) 2 hive bodies to survive the winter, so every box above the bottom two is called a honey super (see pic below). These are the boxes we pull from.

Ohh… the problems of working with giants. Wade and my dad have no problem reaching and lifting these boxes as they pile sky high. I can’t say the same…. I either climb like a billy goat or *hopefully* remember a stool. Better yet, ask for a little assistance ;).

But there’s an issue: despite our plans for honey harvesting, the bees think it’s best to carry about their busy bee business. A bunch–100s!–of bees remain in the honey supers. One method of removing the bees from the super is using a stink board. The stink board is a wooden topper coated with a stout (so smelly!) spray called “Bee-B-Gone.” I’ve since learned that there are other (read: more pleasant) smelling options–definitely worth considering. The scent makes the bees go down into the lower boxes of the hive, pushing them out of the honey supers for nearly bee-free boxes.

This is my dad removing a super that has already been “stinked.” The hive on the far right is getting a good sniff.
Here is a good pic of some bees coming out for fresh air as I put the hive back together. Notice there are only 2 hive bodies remaining. We’ve removed honey supers.

After we got the supers loaded in the truck, we headed home to begin the process of extracting the honey. First, the frames of honey must be uncapped. This can be done with a little skill and even more patience, taking care not to cut into the frames too deeply.

When the honey is uncapped (I saved our wax to make candles later), the frames are placed into the spinner. Our honey spinner is electric, spinning the frames and making honey drip down to a spout from the centrifuge action. From the spout, the honey drips into a bucket with a filter on top, catching any debris. Some folks prefer not filtering the honey at all, others filter the honey through a food-grade screen multiple times for the clearest bottled honey.

We set up our honey kitchen in the garage. With a tarp on the ground, a fold-out table, and (of course) some rocking chairs and radio, we are ready for an evening of spinning.

Finally–time to lift the buckets to a higher surface and use the tap to fill the jars. Beautiful!!

As with all things beekeeping, there are about a million different ways to do everything. If you have any questions, leave a comment or send me an email!

Sweet blessings! 🙂 -Neena

Author: Neena

When not chasing after her two joyful little boys, Neena enjoys beekeeping, a good cup of coffee, and writing on her blog, “Words Like Honey” (www.wordslikehoney.com). Neena has spent much of the last decade traveling with her husband, Wade, a former professional baseball player. Throughout the 29 changes of address and the stresses of moving a young family, Neena learned to embrace the peace that only comes from the steady accompaniment of Christ in her heart.

4 Replies to “Honey Harvest

  1. All that honey looks amazing! With multiple hives, electric extractors are the way to go!

    I just wrote an article about how to use extract honey with an extractor so seeing your pics get me super excited. Great job!

  2. I really like reading all your post about honey and honey bees.; I started bee ing a bee keeper early April and thanks to a swarm and splitting my three hives two weeks ago I now have six.
    I am planning on over wintering them in a single deep. Any thoughts?

    1. Thank you for reading! 6 hives can definitely keep you busy. Where we live, it is recommended that bees have food stores and room to over-winter in 2 deeps or 3 mediums. Perhaps 1 is appropriate where you are. I don’t know if there is anything more valuable than a mentor program or a local beekeeping association for new (and experienced, too!) beekeepers. It seems like I’m always having to call someone in search of a queen or ask an opinion on a matter such as this. Best of luck with your hives!

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