Backyard Beekeeping 101: Our First Honey Harvest

Honey in mason jars

This weekend, for the first time ever, we harvested honey from our backyard beehive.  I found it incredibly exciting – and I was shocked at just how much honey our little hive had produced – we ended up with just under THREE GALLONS (!!!) of honey (which I canned in half-pint glass jars, for gifts).

photo 3 (5)So how did we get the honey out?  Well, it was a learning experience for us too!  First, Carl (in his very sexy beekeeping garb) smoked the bees, and started inspecting the honey supers.  We were looking for capped honey, which is light yellow and wax-covered.  What we wanted to avoid were any frames that might hold brood (slightly raised, capped dark tan or brown colored comb) or uncapped honey (no wax cap on top).

From our two honey supers (each of which has 8 frames) we were able to identify 6 frames that were ready to be harvested.  The rest, we left for the bees to help sustain them in times of low pollen. Next, we cut the comb from the frames over our extractor box – essentially, a small tub with a sieved bottom, a nylon filtering membrane, and then a larger tub with a spiggot at the bottom.

photo 1 (14)After cutting the comb, the honey slowly drained through our extractor until we were able to jar it.  The comb we squeezed to release as much honey as possible, and are now storing in tupperware until I can use it to make soaps and candles (more on that in an upcoming post!)

We *may* get one more small harvest before winter, otherwise, this’ll be it until about March. But considering how low maintenance the bees are, I’m calling it a huge win.  And bonus – once I’ve made the soap, Christmas presents for the family are officially DONE.

Have questions about harvesting your honey or backyard beekeeping?  Ask away in the comments!

Whitney