Honey is made by gathering flower nectar, which the bees place in the honeycomb cells of their hive. But how do you harvest it? Here are some tips about beekeeping supplies, honeycomb, bees and more.
Set up your equipment: You’ll need a hive from which to harvest the honey. An important consideration is your safety; there's a reason why beekeepers wear head-to-toe protection when dealing with bees. Make sure you have the proper supplies before getting started. You can usually find equipment online or even at your local gardening or hardware store.
Harvest the honeycombs: This is kept in chambers above where eggs are laid and cared for. These areas are actually easier to remove from the hive than other sections, which is good news for those harvesting. You can eat it right from the combs, but most serious beekeepers process and bottle it. When it is used straight from the honeycombs, it is called “comb honey”, while a product that has been processed is called “liquid honey.”
Clean the honeycombs: There are caps over the honeycombs, these will need to be scraped off each side of the frames before harvesting.
Extraction: There are special extracting machines for extraction. They spin the frames until the liquid drips down, into a tank of unprocessed honey.
Processing: It should be processed to remove any debris which may have been extracted along the way. The product is so thick that most of this debris actually floats, and it can be skimmed off the top. Then, it is warmed slightly to make it easier to work with, and strained to remove any smaller pieces of debris.
Bottling: Now, the it is ready for bottling in a jar. Some people pressure-filter their product before bottling to remove all of the pollen, but this also removes some of the flavor, and many serious fans prefer to have it raw, which still has its pollen. You may notice that it varies in color from darker to lighter. This depends on the source of the nectar, and results in a different taste. Generally, the darker the color, the stronger the taste.
Storage: Honey will keep for a very long time. It may crystallize, especially if it is raw, but you can eat it as is, or heat it gently to re-liquefy these crystals. It should be stored between 70 and 75 degrees, and tightly capped to prevent moisture. For long term storage, keep it in the freezer.
Making this product from hives is quite challenging, yet it's also a rewarding activity. An involved hobby, it's not for everyone. If you are thinking about getting into this, make sure that you adequately protect yourself from the bees. Honey is a pure, natural sweetener, and it can be well worth the effort required to harvest it.