Introduction: 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.

Step 1: 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

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

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!

Step 4: Spinning the Frames

Four uncapped frames are placed into the extractor and are held in a metal mesh basket. The lid is closed and the handle cranked for a minute or more. The honey is forced out of the comb and drips down the inside of the extractor. Once the spinning stops, the frames are taken out and flipped so that honey is removed from the other side of the frame. Note, my dog takes her job as floor clean up consultant very seriously!

Step 5: My Favorite Part!

When honey starts filling up the bottom of the extractor, it is necessary to open up the valve and let honey flow into the waiting bucket! Most Excellent! Quality testing is an extremely important task. The honey is very very good.. maybe an additional taste is required?

Step 6: First the Filter Then the Jar...

More uncapping, more spinning, more tasting.. Eventually the bucket fills. In a good year I've gotten as much as 15 gallons of honey from 3-4 hives. The honey is filtered through a paint strainer. The bucket has a latch near the bottom that can be opened and closed for filling jars.

Step 7: Melting the Wax

There is a lot of honey and wax in the cappings that were cut off the frames. I made a simple solar wax melter that I put in the yard with the wax capping. I use the wax for making lotions and furniture polish..

Step 8: If You Are Interested in Keeping Honeybees...

The best resource for learning about keeping honeybees is from a local bee keeping club or association. Most beekeepers I have met have been extremely helpful and full of advice and opinions. After 7 years of beekeeping, there is so much to learn from the bees and the process... and I'm addicted to honey! My honey is used for eating, baking and mead making - oh and lots of gift giving.

Comments

author
liquidhandwash (author)2016-09-10

Hi I have a question. I know where there is a wild bee hive inside a hollow tree, the bees are not aggressive, and I would like to encourage them to move into a box or hive.

I was thinking of nailing a box onto the entrance of their tree hive, and hope that they would start moving in, or a lest produce some honey I can get to. The tree is huge and looks like it would fall over if I started chopping holes in it with a chainsaw, so Im not keen on doing that, as it located on the side of a road.

Any comments or advise?

author
QuimbyJ (author)2016-06-29

Now I am excited to try beekeeping, thanks!

author
mbm9000 (author)2015-07-21

Fantastic! Thank you!

author
jeffcole (author)2015-04-26

I found this fascinating! Thank you!

author
mountainmasha (author)2015-02-24

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!

author
8bitMisfit (author)2013-09-17

awesome. I want to keep bees now. And be like that guy off of metal gear... shh. lol no really great instructable.

author
TREX ZoaR0K (author)2013-08-02

can you point me towards were to get materials for bee keeping?

author
Norahbelle (author)TREX ZoaR0K2013-08-06

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.

author
TREX ZoaR0K (author)Norahbelle2013-08-17

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

author
Ralphxyz (author)2013-08-02

Have you experienced colony collapse of you bees?

Great instructable, thank you.

Ralph

author
Norahbelle (author)Ralphxyz2013-08-06

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.

author
TREX ZoaR0K (author)2013-08-05

were do you get bees do they just inhabit the hive or do you buy them

author
pcgirl (author)2013-08-01

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!

author
bryan3141 (author)pcgirl2013-08-01

Ok, you have me interested...care 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?

author
SSmithers (author)bryan31412013-08-04

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 beesource.com forums.

author
anandit (author)2013-08-02

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 Marblerocks@gmail.com . regards . ramakant dubey , 9826317920.

author
Norahbelle (author)2013-08-01

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 .... :-)

author
GreenMeUpScotty (author)2013-08-01

Great Stuff and through explanations- * * * * *

author
shanbop11 (author)2013-08-01

Thank you, excellent instructable!

author
melcon (author)2013-08-01

Very nice instructable. My 2yo twins "made" me watch Bee Movie so many times that I can't get it out of my head.

author
bob3030 (author)2013-08-01

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.

author
thebeatonpath (author)2013-08-01

Have been thinking of getting into this and I may take the plunge now that I saw this. THANKS!

author
Potroast (author)2013-08-01

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!

author
bryan3141 (author)Potroast2013-08-01

The three biggest that I personally have used are Dadant (www.dadant.com) and Kelley (www.kelleybees.com) and Mann Lake (www.mannlakeltd.com). 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).

author
didgitalpunk (author)2013-08-01

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.

author
didgitalpunk (author)2013-08-01

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.

author
barrem01 (author)2013-08-01

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.

author
pvdl (author)2013-08-01

Excellent instructable. Your second photo (the close-up of the bee) is a terrific picture. Thanks for sharing the info, Norahbelle.

author
antoniraj (author)2013-08-01

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

author
nickhaik1 (author)2013-07-31

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

author
Wolfbane221 (author)2013-07-31

nice! I do be keeping myself.. never used the scratcher thing. does it tear up the combs??

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