We started working on harvesting honey today. Our home smells amazing. There have been some questions asked about the process we use, so we took a lot of pictures this time.
This is the super we’re harvesting today. Each layer in a hive is called a super – it is a box of frames that the bees build comb in. We have 8-frame hives, because the supers are easier to lift than ones with 10 frames. This particular hive had three honey supers on it, but we only took one to harvest today.
Our honey straining bucket can’t hold the honey from all eight frames at once, so this super will probably take most of the day to deal with.
Here’s a look directly down inside.
Let the kids take a peek, and then shoo them out of the kitchen. No need for them to get sticky and messy too. :O)
Here’s a look at a frame that is ready to harvest. The white coating is a thin layer of wax (cappings) that keeps the honey from oozing out.
We take a frame at a time, and cut the comb off with a bread knife. We’ve found it’s easier to cut it into two or three sections, just so it doesn’t fall on the counter and make a huge mess.
Here’s a closer look at the comb:
Then we take a pastry blender to crush the comb. We use the crush and strain method (more info at the blog Linda’s Bees) because we like to use the filtered wax for other things.
The comb once it is crushed:
Then we pour the crushed comb into our straining bucket. The filter holds about three frames’ worth of honey.
The empty frames get placed in a bowl to drain further. When they’re pretty much done, we’ll set them outside for the bees to finish off. They’ll take the last of the wax and honey back to the hive and reuse it.
After about an hour, the wax has filtered pretty well. It’s not done yet, but there’s definitely progress.
When the wax is completely filtered, we’ll rinse it and put it in the freezer for later use.
The next step is pouring the filtered honey into jars. We probably won’t get that far today. We will wait until the bucket is mostly full first – right now the honey is about two inches deep in the bucket. It filters pretty quickly but doing all the frames will probably take most of the day. The main project for today is to get the comb crushed and filtered.
It’s sticky and messy, but the end result is so worth it.