This is a how-to guide for harvesting honey using an extractor.
Tools needed: extractor, uncapping tool, food grade bucket with spout, double sieve, jars/lids.
Tips before you start: we strongly advise only harvesting honey on an easily cleaned surface. Otherwise, we recommend covering the floor with plastic. Also, never harvest honey outside, or you will be covered in bees in no time. Lastly, remember that 75-80% (depending who you ask) of the honey on the frames that you harvest, MUST be capped with wax. Otherwise, it’s not ready to be extracted. The bees cap honey with wax once they have reduced the water content enough to make it an unfavorable environment for bacterial growth, so if you harvest too much unfinished honey, you will increase the chance of your honey going bad. If harvested properly, honey should never go bad!
So, here we go…
After preparing for harvest and getting all of our tools and equipment ready, here are the steps we take:
1. Remove the wax cappings from both sides of each frame of honey using an upcapping tool. There are a few different options available for uncapping tools. There are uncapping scratchers (pictured here), uncapping knives, and even heated knives that cut through the wax easier. We generally use both scratchers and knives, but we don’t use the heated knife, because we don’t want to expose our honey to heat.
2. Once uncapped, put each frame into the extractor until the extractor is full of frames. If you don’t have enough frames to fill the extractor, you should try to balance what you have. For example, this extractor holds 6 frames. If you didn’t have 6 frames, but you had 3, you would want to place the 3 frames evenly around the extractor, so that it’s balanced while spinning.
3. Hand crank (or turn on, if electric) the extractor for several minutes in either direction, until all of the honey has left the comb, and is dripping down the inside walls of the extractor.
4. Place a food grade 5-gallon bucket with a double sieve on top of it, under the spout of the extractor, and open the spout. The sieve removes bee body parts and pieces of beeswax that are in the honey, allowing only the honey to go into the 5-gallon bucket.
5. Open the spout of the 5-gallon bucket to fill each jar with honey.
6. Put the lid on the jar (and the label on the lid, if you wish).
Now enjoy some honey for yourself, give some to your neighbors, and sell a few jars for extra cash!
Last tip: children under the age of one year are NOT supposed to eat honey, due to the risk for botulism. We recommend informing anyone you give/sell jars to of this, just to be safe.
Thank you for reading!