Harvesting Honey–Helping Hands Always Welcome

Author: Meera, October 11, 2018

When it comes to opening the hives of honey bees here on our farmette, I’m grateful for the helping hands of my hubby and my neighbor. Carlos, my hubby and helpmate for life, is my go-to guy for all our farm projects. And our neighbor Peter not only has answers to my questions about bees, but also he can open a hive, remove frames of honey, inspect and medicate, and seal the unit lickety-split.



The hive box "super" with ten frames of honey awaits separating and straining into buckets

A frame of honey leans against a super of other frames



With the smoker at the ready and lit, we opened our hives September 23, 2018. The hives were robust, but the bees appeared stressed. I had added supers to each hive in late July but should have kept a closer eye on the burgeoning bee population. They had become overcrowded and hungry.




For harvesting, we first removed the heavy metal lid of the hive box, replacing it with a fume board. A fume board is a lid lined with fabric that is sprayed with a product that encourages the bees to vacate the supers (some bees immediately leave the box; others go into the brood chambers). The fume board works within seven to ten minutes. We then pulled out the frames of honey, gently brushed off any remaining bees, and took the honey-heavy frames to the kitchen.




bees and honeycomb with brood

Honeycomb atop frames with bee food and brood




For an old hand at beekeeping like my neighbor, the process went quick. Not so for me. This past year, I injured both my shoulders with tears in the rotator cuff tendons.  With limitation to some of my range of motion, I’ve felt pretty handicapped. Still, I helped by carrying a single frame of honey at a time from the hive box to the kitchen.




While the hives were open, we removed old medicated strips previously hung in the boxes to thwart mites.



These small sheets will trap hive beetles

Small sheets for trapping hive beetles are placed across the frames in the top super before closing the lid




We also replaced the Bee-Gone sheets to trap hive beetles. It’s important to properly handle such items and to keep the apiary clean. We put in medication for mite control–a white gelatinous substance spread on a paper similiar to an index card. Finally, we placed a single patty of bee food on the frames to provide for the bees’ nutritional needs.



The bees immediately coalesced on the patty; no longer stressed, they seemed gentle and calm. Checking the bottom frames, we found a lot of brood (eggs, larvae and pupae of bees). To help this new generation of honey bees along, we inserted an unopened frame of honey that I’d kept wrapped in foil and frozen (freezing kills any insects that could infect the hive or bees). Honey, of course, is the perfect food for them.



We will reopen the hives in two weeks and re-check the status of the bees. A that time, we’ll treat with an antibiotic for winter and possibly add a super if necessary.



The bucket with spigot allows for easy filling of the bottles

The bucket with spigot allows for easy filling of the bottles




I haven’t yet processed the honey we harvested but the frames are on my kitchen counter. They are in a hive box wrapped in aluminum foil. At the ready are also several food-grade buckets that I’ve carefully washed, dried, and covered with lids. The honey spinning machine has been cleaned. Before I begin working with the honey in the frames, I always scrub my kitchen, washing the countertops twice–first with soap and water and then with diluted bleach and hot water.




When everything is clean, I will begin to work on each frame. I first scrape away any bee “glue” from the outside edges of the frame. With a hot knife, I slice all around the interior edges before opening the sealed wax cells (sliding the hot knife just under the wax and lifting).  Both sides of the frame are dealt with in this manner. After the wax cells are uncapped, the frame will be placed into the spinning machine. It uses centrifugal force to spin off the honey. The sweet stuff then drains through the strainer material taped around the bucket mouth. The bucket is positioned under the machine spigot.


A knife is used to uncap wax cells to allow honey to flow from the frame

A knife is used to uncap wax cells to allow honey to flow from the frame




My reward for this labor of love is having an abundance of sweet, amber honey when desired to bake a honey cake or other culinary creation, to enjoy a relaxing cup of tea, or to fill jars for holiday gift-giving. Beekeeping draws people together and, take it from me, a helping hand is always appreciated.








If you enjoy reading about keeping bees and chickens, growing heirloom vegetables and fruits, or living the farmette (small farm) life, check out my offering of books that tie into themes of living well and close to the Earth.


Grab one or more of my cozy mysteries (no gratuitous sex, profanity, or violence) and discover delicious farm recipes, gardening advice, and tips for caring for bees and chickens.



Or pick up one of my wellness, spirituality, or manifesting books. They make great holiday gifts for yourself and others.


All my books are available in traditional bookstores everywhere and also online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (barnesandnoble.com), Kobo Books, Walmart, and other  retailers.



All available online and in bookstores everywhere

HennyPenny Farmette mystery series (some details based on my own farmette life)




For more information, click on the following URLs:












More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you









Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus...all it takes is a moment

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus…all it takes is a moment to meditate






Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Leave a Reply