Monday, August 24, 2015

Harvesting Honey Without an Exractor

honey super-smoker

The spring and early summer honey flow ended weeks ago. We are in the startup of the fall honey flow now. I harvested this season's honey without an extractor. Here's how to do it. First, let's review.

The bees start with empty frames. I use plastic foundation coated with wax.


 As the season goes on they build out the comb and fill it with honey. Then when the water content is around 18% they cap it off.

frame of honeycomb

When all the frames are capped you are ready for harvesting. Using an extractor means scraping off the wax cappings and placing the frames in an extractor. It is about the same amount of work for the beekeeper either way, but scraping the entire comb off into a jar makes more work for the bees.

To read how to harvest using an extractor read this. 

capped honey

You just take a tool of your choosing (I use a metal spatula) and scrape the honey comb off into a container. If you want to filter it you can just add a filter to catch the comb. For this honey harvest I put large pieces of comb in the jar and then ladled honey in to fill the jar the rest of the way up. Here are some of my favorite pics from the process.


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capped honeyframes of honey


You might have already guessed but I get pretty sticky during the process. 

jars of honey

I have the best job ever. Well, the sweetest anyway.



honey and beeswax


  1. Have you considered going foundationless? Then you can cut chunks out from the comb rather than scraping - it's more natural as then you know the wax is 100% created by your own bees. You can also preserve the comb structure then and sell it in boxes as comb honey.

    1. I have! I haven't done it yet, but plan to experiment next year with a hive or two when I add them. I don't have my own extractor and have to borrow one from my bee club. It is heavy and cumbersome for me to pick up and deliver so I wanted to avoid it this year after tearing my rotator cuff. Do you do cut comb?

    2. I keep meaning to! Did a little bit this year as we accidentally left one frame out of a super and the bees filled in the space with a huge honey comb built from scratch. We got some cute little cut comb containers from our local association. One option is doing alternate foundation and foundation-less combs in a super, hopefully that way they are more likely to build the combs straight.

    3. Alternating the foundation-less frames is a great idea! I'll have to try that. One thing that I find so interesting about beekeeping is that there is always something new to learn or experiment with. How long have you been keeping your bees?

    4. Been keeping them eight years now - but have never had more than five hives at a time and am still very much learning as I go. For instance, I've never caught a swarm as I'm always at work when swarms happen!

    5. That's one great thing about it, you just never know everything. I've only caught my own girls when they've swarmed a few times.


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