Harvesting Honey the Old-Fashioned Way

Author: Meera, July 29, 2014


Frames of honey, fresh from the hives

Frames of honey, fresh from the hives



Last weekend, my beekeeper neighbor and I harvested three frames of honey from my hives. I took the frames into my house and, with a hot knife, cut open the wax cells to permit the honey to drain.



Opening the capped cells is easily accomplished with a hot knife

Opening the capped cells is easily accomplished with a hot knife



I drained off one-half gallon of honey from two frames.



I drain two frames at a time in a five-gallon bucket

Two frames drain simultaneously in a five-gallon bucket; another option is to use large, flat plastic tubs



I wrapped the extra frame in foil and froze it until I am ready to drain that frame as well. Then, I will let it thaw for 24 hours before draining off the honey.



Once all the honey is out of the frames, I take the frames outside and hang them in the tree near the hives. The honeybees will do the cleanup, foraging all the honey and leaving only clean wax that I can melt for candle- or soap-making projects.



A single frame of wax and residual honey is hung in a tree so as not to attract ants

A frame of wax and residual honey is hung in a tree so the bees can clean it, hopefully before the ants find it



Draining honey from frames is a lengthy process and I have to do it twice: once to remove the honey and the second time to strain out any tiny particles of wax, before bottling it.




Last time, I took 20 frames and my neighbor, who was harvesting too, ran those 20 frames through his motorized extractor in his honey room.



Extractors are a modern convenience that saves untold hours extracting honey. But until I begin to sell my honey and other farm products, I won’t be able to afford such an energy-efficient tool.



I’ve discovered that beekeeping can be quite the expensive hobby.¬† There are uncapping tubs, melters, comb cutting pans, heated knives, thermal plastic shrink bands for jars, uncapping needle rollers, and myriad other items used in honey extraction.



The tree near the hives now holds two frames and a cheesecloth of wax/honey

The tree near the hives holds two frames and a strainer of wax/honey from the uncapping  of the cells that I also drained



Radial extractors can save time and preserves the honeycomb. The frames are placed between the guides of the stainless steel tank and the reel spins. The centrifugal force created throws honey against the sides of the tank. Honey is drained off through spigot. For now, the old-fashioned way works fine, too.



Golden honey draining from a frameinto a glass dish

Golden honey draining from a frame
into a glass dish




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2 Responses to “Harvesting Honey the Old-Fashioned Way”

  1. Grant Thomson Says:

    Hi Meera: You have a lovely website with great information. I’ve only just come across this page about your attempts to extract honey from the three frames. I hope you’ve experienced some success in the years since you first posted this information in 2014. I did have just one piece of advice for you – It’s generally not a good idea to expose uncapped frames of wax and honey after you’ve extracted the honey. Bees from your hives will certainly attempt to clean up the frames of left-over honey but it also attracts other bees from nearby hives and encourages them to go into a robbing frenzy – which will put your own hives at risk from other colonies drawn to the site by all that honey left out on public display (and I imagine fairly close to your own hives which would be the robbing bees next natural target). It’s also a really good way to spread disease. My suggestion would be to simply put the extracted frame back into the hive for a day or two and your own bees will be able to clean it up without any risk. In nature bee colonies will never expose their own honey to public view as it attracts attackers – other bees, insects, mice and larger mammals. Hope your bees are enjoying good spring conditions there in the Northern hemisphere. Down here in Queensland Australia we are setting our bees up for our typically mild Winter conditions.
    All the best. Grant Thomson

  2. Meera Says:

    Hi Grant and thank you for taking the time to share your info. I appreciate learning from your experience….Meera

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