How to Harvest Honey

Learn how to successfully harvest honey from your beehives in this handy step by step.

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Extracting Honey

Ready to reap the sweet rewards of beekeeping? Follow these easy steps to harvest honey from your hives using an extractor. 

Sterilize Your Jars

The night prior to harvesting the honey, run your jars and lids through the dishwasher's sterilization cycle or sterilize them using the traditional method of a stock pot and boiling water. They should be completely dry prior to adding honey.

Get Ready

The extractor should be cleaned and dried prior to the extraction with mild soap and warm water. Prepare the area where you will be doing the extraction. It should be a place you're okay with getting messy and sticky—we use our garage. Be sure the area is completely closed off to bees entering. I spread down a plastic painter's cloth and newspaper on my garage floor and place the extractor on top of that.

A 5-Gallon Pail

We use 5-gallon food grade pails to collect the honey from the extractor. Clean those with mild soap and warm water and dry them thoroughly prior to use. One 5-gallon pail should hold approximately 60 pounds of honey.

Prep the Pail

To the pail, we add a mesh bag to filter out larger pieces of beeswax from the uncapping of the frames.

Tie it Off

Add a tie of twine around the mesh bag to prevent the bag from collapsing into the pail from the weight of the honey.

Uncapping Area

Immediately adjacent to the extractor we add a small table. This serves as an area for uncapping. We spread newspapers on the table's surface. Then add a cookie sheet and the uncapping tool.

Washing Station

Off to the side, we keep a bucket of warm water and a clean towel. When we get sticky, we rinse and dry our hands here. This helps to contain the mess of the honey harvest.

The Extractor

Inside the extractor there are slots for the honey frames.

How to Harvest Honey

Learn how to harvest honey from your beehives.

Time to Extract

Fill the extractor with the uncapped frames. Balance the frames evenly in the extractor and spin the honey down. With a hand crank extractor, it takes about 10 minutes to extract the honey. This extractor can hold 8 frames.

All Clean

Once the frames are light and empty of honey, remove them from the extractor and return these wet frames to the hive. Within a few days, the bees will clean and repair all the beeswax. The frames will be like new and ready to store honey again.

Honey Flow

The bottom of the extractor will fill with honey and bits of beeswax from the uncapping process.

Every Last Bit

Diligently with a soft spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the extractor. You don't want any of the bees' hard work to go to waste!

Open the Gate

Open the gate on the bottom of the extractor and let the honey flow into your collection pail.

Flowing Honey

Based upon temperature of the honey, the honey will flow fast or slow. The warmer the day, the faster the flow.

The Uncappings

Don't forget to scrape the cookie sheet with the plastic spatula and the uncapping tool to harvest that honey. Scrape it into your harvest pail.

Let it Drip

With twine, tie off the mesh bag and let it hang over the harvest pail. The honey will drip into the bucket, leaving the beeswax behind. This process can take hours to even overnight. Patience is a virtue. Once the honey is done dripping, remove the beeswax from the bag. Put it onto a dish and place it near the front of your hives. The bees will clean the honey off the wax. Then the wax can be melted down to make candles and beauty care products.

Jar it Up

To add the honey to the jars, we bring the honey collection pail into the kitchen. Working over the counter or a disinfected kitchen sink, we add the honey to the jars one by one. Yield will vary based on weather, growing conditions and crop success; this harvest yielded almost 40 pounds from two hives.