Picture of Extracting Honey
One of the best things about keeping bees is harvesting honey! How sweet! At least once in late summer several local backyard beekeepers get together in my garage to extract honey. We all help each other out and it is a fun time to share the fun of extracting wonderful sweet honey that our bees have created.
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Step 1: Remove honey frames from hives

Picture of Remove honey frames from hives
The first step is to take the frames of honey from the hives. The number of frames depends on many factors including strength of the colony, weather, and amount of nectar available to the bees. Be sure to wear protective gear when removing frames of honey from hives. The boxes filled with honey can be heavy so I remove them one frame at a time. I gently brush off the bees from the comb and place them in a cart that is wheeled to the garage.

Step 2: The equipment - garage set up

Picture of The equipment - garage set up
I've invested in a honey extractor from Dadant. It can extract up to 4 frames at one time. Additional equipment includes a heated knife and capping scratcher for remove wax cappings on the frames. A tarp is taped to the floor to keep things clean... A five gallon bucket with strainer is ready for extracted honey.

Step 3: Uncapping the frames

Picture of Uncapping the frames
Honeybees preserve the honey by capping it in wax cells. To extract the honey, the tops of the cells, or caps, need to be removed. Most frames have honey on both sides, so each side needs to be uncapped. The photos show uncapped frames stored in bin ready to be uncapped. Then uncapping with the hot knife. Next the cap scratcher is use to pick out any cells that have not been opened.  The last photo is a uncapped frame ready to go into the extractor!

I like the idea of working as a group to collect honey. We haven't talked ourselves into buying the spinner yet, so we just scrape the honey and wax off the foundation into a strainer and let it slowly drain out. I may have to see if others want to go in on an upgrade. Thanks!

8bitMisfit1 year ago
awesome. I want to keep bees now. And be like that guy off of metal gear... shh. lol no really great instructable.
can you point me towards were to get materials for bee keeping?
Norahbelle (author)  TREX ZoaR0K1 year ago
The best resource for beekeeping (and bees) is your local bee guild or club. If there aren't any nearby, ask around and find a local beekeeper. Most are glad to share information.
in my city there is no bees aloud so I`m gonna try to get that changed or move out to my grandparents every summer
Ralphxyz1 year ago
Have you experienced colony collapse of you bees?

Great instructable, thank you.

Norahbelle (author)  Ralphxyz1 year ago
I have lost several hives over winter.. not sure if it's "Colony Collapse" but problems range from neighborhood pesticides to wasps to mites to weak bees... and then not sure what.
In the spring I manage to capture several swarms to repopulate my hives.
were do you get bees do they just inhabit the hive or do you buy them
pcgirl1 year ago
I have a top bar hive. Extracting honey is quite different in my case. :) I find bee keeping to be very relaxing, as it's rewarding and fascinating. I can stand there and stare at them all day!
Ok, you have me to expand on how you extract from a top bar hive? I'm guessing it's more of a squeeze the comb through cheesecloth kinda thing?
Top bar is more of a crush and strain method. Cut the whole comb off into a bucket, crush it to get the honey mobile and seeping out of the cells and strain it. Look up that term for ways others have gone about it. I use a modified method where I scrape all the cells and honey off to the midrib, since I don't have space for an extractor. Use a couple buckets and some screening and mesh sieves. I can't remember where I saw it on the internet, but try "michael bush bees" , he's a natural beekeeper, or the forums.
anandit1 year ago
dear sir ,
i live in india , the illustrated detail is very fascinating to me , help me by sending more details of bee keeping box, and the procedure and precaution to be taken while to keeping of bees and extraction of honey . i will appreciate for support . my email address is . regards . ramakant dubey , 9826317920.
Norahbelle (author) 1 year ago
Thank you for all the nice comments.. I purchase most of my gear from Dadant but there are many other good suppliers.. One of the next projects on my list is to make my own wooden hives .... :-)
Great Stuff and through explanations- * * * * *
shanbop111 year ago
Thank you, excellent instructable!
melcon1 year ago
Very nice instructable. My 2yo twins "made" me watch Bee Movie so many times that I can't get it out of my head.
bob30301 year ago
I have never been able to do beekeeping but I have been interested in it since I was a teenager (I'm old now). Thanks for posting and thanks for being a beekeeper.
Have been thinking of getting into this and I may take the plunge now that I saw this. THANKS!
Potroast1 year ago
That is very inspiring. I have been interested for years, you make harvesting seem a little less daunting. Thanks for posting, and if you do a follow up I would be interested if there are any good mail order places you would recommend for supplies. Thanks!
The three biggest that I personally have used are Dadant ( and Kelley ( and Mann Lake ( They all have excellent customer service and not unreasonable prices.

You should also look for your local beekeeping organizations. Sometimes several beekeepers will go in on a large order to save shipping and/or get better deals (hint: it's a LOT cheaper per frame to buy 100 frames than it is to buy 50).
you do know that you can taste honey as soon as you uncap the frames just by putting what you took off of the frame in your mouth? the wax does not have any taste at all and it is absolutely clean.
i don't understand why you need a heated knife to remove the wax capping.
also, you must be very messy when extracting your honey because in all the time I have helped my dad and watch him do, he has never needed to put anything on his floor.
barrem011 year ago
I use a different technique with my uncapping fork, (what you call a cap scratcher). I've found that if I try to slide the tines under the surface of the cap and pull up, I do less damage to the comb than scrtaching across the surface.
pvdl1 year ago
Excellent instructable. Your second photo (the close-up of the bee) is a terrific picture. Thanks for sharing the info, Norahbelle.
antoniraj1 year ago
Nice... I used to keep a bee hive but some miscreants completely damaged the hive. Our home garden has lots of honey bees buzzing around. I need to start again
nickhaik11 year ago
My grandfather keeps bees and its the best and freshest honey ever, much better than the store bought stuff. So you know, all the goodness, like the enzymes and antioxidants in the honey is destroyed when heated, so if you think that putting it into your coffee is good for your health, it isn't, the sugar just turns straight to fat. But it is better than normal sugar. And yes Wolfbane221, it does tear up the combs but the bees will fix that. Thanks for the info mate
nice! I do be keeping myself.. never used the scratcher thing. does it tear up the combs??