Part 7 ‘Honey Harvesting’
The average hive produces 25lbs of honey; which, in a good season can increase up to 60lbs of honey. It is important that you extract these honey supplies efficiently in order to reap the maximum benefits from storing and selling your honey. To help you extract your honey successfully, listed below is a step-by-step guide to extracting honey from your beehive:
- Remove each frame of capped honey from your Honey Super:
Each cell of honey will be 'capped' or sealed by a mould of wax. Ensure that you extract each frame individually in order to prevent any damage to your hive's structure.
- Use an uncapping tank to remove your hive's wax capping:
You can purchase an uncapping tank from a local beekeeping supplier or online site. These appliances facilitate the uncapping of honey cells for the extraction of honey. Hold each frame vertically over your uncapping tank and tip it forward gently in order to help the capping fall away from the comb as you slice them.
- Remove the wax cappings and expose the honey cells:
You can do so by using an electric uncapping knife or a serrated kitchen knife. When slicing your wax cappings you should commence a quarter of the way from the bottom of the comb and slice upward to expose the honey cells. After doing so slice the knife downwards to expose the honey cells on the lower section of the frame. If any honey cells remain you can use an uncapping fork, or 'cappings scratcher' as it is commonly known, to expose any outstanding cells. The cranked needles on an uncapping fork enable you to extract honey with minimal wastage.
- Perform the same technique on the opposite side of your frame:
Flip your frame over and extensively remove any wax cappings in order to expose the honey cells and harvest as much honey as possible. After uncapping each frame, place it vertically into your extractor device. An extractor device can be purchased online or from a local beekeeping supplier and is used to spin the honey from the uncapped cells. The spun honey is dispensed into a holding tank.
- Use your extractor to remove the honey from your combs:
Once you have uncapped enough frames and your extractor is full, you can place the extractor lid on, seal it and begin to turn the crank. You should begin spinning your extractor slowly and then accelerate gradually in order to extract your honey gently from the wax combs. After approximately five minutes of spinning, you should turn all of your frames over in order to expose the opposite sides to the spinning process. After another five minutes, your combs will be empty and you can return your frames to your Honey Super.
- Filter your honey through to a bottling container:
You should open the valve at the bottom of your extractor which will allow your honey to filter through a honey strainer and into your bottling container. If you purchase a specific bottling container or 'bottling bucket' then you can use its integrated valve to fill your honey jars.
- Purchase honey jars and fill them:
It is important to purchase appropriately sized jars within which to store your honey. Each shallow Honey Super yields a honey harvest of approximately 30 pounds so it is important to purchase jars according to your hive size. Fortunately, standard honey jars are available in one, two, and five-pound sizes to accommodate your individual preferences.