Honey Harvest


I don’t like to use the chemicals to run the bees out of the honey supers so I just pull the frames individually and shake/brush the bees off. My kids run the frames to Emily who stacks them in the extraction area inside empty supers. I can’t hardly lift a full super of honey anyhow, so this is a lot easier on my body…and without the chemicals/smell!

Honey frames should be almost entirely capped. If there are too many uncapped cells, the honey is not done. In fact, if you bottle it, the moisture content will probably be too high and the honey may ferment.


A well capped frame should look clean and white or maybe golden. It smells great!

When we extract, we use a searated edge knife to remove the bulk of the honey cappings. We then go over anything we missed with a fork. No need for a fancy cappings scratcher unless you want to use it. There is a ton of honey that remains in the cappings that are cut off so we always catch them and save the honey and the wax.

I am pretty happy about our extraction setup. We go to Emily’s grandparents’ house and use their garage most times. We can venitlate it, keep it clean with plastic table cloths and have plenty of room. Ventilation is so important because the perfect day to extract is the absolute hottest day of the year. It doesn’t matter when you plan to do it…it will melt you!

Aside from getting the honey out of the frames with our motorized extractor, the only processing we do is to run the honey through a nylon filter to remove any large wax chunks or bee parts. It goes from the filter straight into the bottles.

I like to keep honey in containers of several sizes and shapes to appeal to people’s needs…plus I think it looks cooler!

Here are some pics of the harvest process and

-the honey we got in 2014

-the honey we got in 2013

-the honey we got in 2012

-the honey we got in 2011

-the honey we got in 2010

-the honey we got in 2009

-the honey we got in 2008


6 thoughts on “Honey Harvest

  1. Very informative! Love the pictures. We are NEW to this. I was wondering how you get the bees off the the frames that you want to harvest. Possibly there aren’t that many bees on the frames as they are all capped off?

  2. Hi Colleen – glad you are getting in to bees! Some folks use chemicals that really stink to get bees out of the supers. I prefer to either brush them off (see the yellow brush in the top pics) or just shake them really hard to get them off. I do it frame at a time though. Folks who take the whole super off at once pretty much have to use chemicals. There usually aren’t too many bees in the supers, but once you remove them, they become very interesting again!

  3. I’ve been reading up on your honey harvest blogs. I’ve been keeping bees for a couple years but this year was the first year I had enough honey to harvest. I found it really difficult to get the bees off the frames, even after I shook them off and brushed them off with my fancy bee brush. They just flew right back on the frames. Do you find it best to be really rough with them?

    Do you harvest the honey at a house where the hives are not beneficial so that the bees aren’t waiting outside the window? I found that when I took the honey, even though my house is a ways away from the hive, they were waiting at the window, watching me extract in my kitchen because of the smell.

    Thanks for your posts!

  4. Hey Amanda! I get the bees off of the frames with a very sharp jolt. I don’t know of that makes sense, but the pretty much all come off in one quick snap. I don’t know your build but my wife does not have the strength/grip/something to do it as well as I do. You may have the same issue. As soon as I do the snap, I grab the brush and start walking to the place we extract. I brush bees off as I go. That part happens super quickly so they don’t have any time to get back on the frame. Our extraction place is maybe 50 feet from a bunch of my hives though. If you are farther away, you may want to consider using a plastic storage box 50 or so feet away. You could snap/brush/walk and stash them before the bees knew what hit them. I suppose a few try to come in to where we extract but we’ve not really had much or a problem. We’re very particular about opening and closing the door but you can’t miss the smell outside so the bees no doubt smell it too. It seems that my bees spend the day trying to get to know each other again in their new, smaller home. We find that they are not aggressive and settle down pretty quickly after we harvest.

    Don’t know if that helps any but holler if you want to talk some more about how we do it (or anything else too!)

  5. Nothing is more exciting but harvesting time! I am always thrilled during harvesting. I wounder if the bees are all mad/angry during this time? Just imagine someone else is taking away what you have worked so hard. LoL! =)

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