If you got your bees, you’ve now got honey: The last step is learning to harvest it. Read this Old Farmer’s Almanac beginner’s guide to collecting honey from your bees.
“The only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey. . . . And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.” –Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) by A. A. Milne
Honey is indeed delicious—and can be dangerous to get!
- Be sure you have the proper clothing and equipment before handling bees.
- Go out with an expert a few times to get the hang of collecting honey.
- Remember: NEVER handle bees if there is the potential of you having an allergic reaction.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when collecting the honey
Method for Collecting Honey
Gentle, calm movements—and not big, exaggerated ones—will keep the bees calm and allow you to painlessly and easily maneuver the supers (where the honey is located). Be sure that you are not wearing any perfumes, colognes, aftershaves, etc., as this will entice curious bees to fly toward you, making it harder to work.
Harvesting consists of these major steps:
- Use smoke sparingly, as it will affect the flavor of the honey. Gently remove bees from supers by brushing them.
- Remove the supers.
- Remove honey from the comb (extractors and centrifuges can be purchased to make this easier). To do this, uncap the wax on the combs.
- Strain the honey through cheesecloth to remove excess wax.
- Keep the honey in a settling tank for 2 to 3 days to allow air bubbles to pop and foreign objects to rise to the top (making it easier to remove them).
- Skim off the foam.
- Different processes will determine the temperatures at which honey can be kept. Once you know, you can store honey in jars and other containers
Next, learn about common bee diseases and how to prevent them.