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Harvesting honey doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. Bonus video below!

Alas, a farming travel writer can’t spend all her time on the road. But with every season comes different adventures, and some as thrilling as those found traversing the globe.

Maybe you noticed through the lens of my Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook stories that spring came and went with the expansion of our small orchard, a bounty of curious, newborn calves, and fields painted with the purple, white, and red blooms of clovers.

From building new raised garden beds to working cows, we bounded into summer headfirst without a backward glance!

working cows
Bring the cows in to work them

But of all the growth happening here on the homestead, I’m most excited about our flourishing bee colonies!

Ever since accidentally becoming a beekeeper two summers ago, I’ve spent many afternoons fascinated as the bees come and go, listening to their content hum as the whitewashed hives turned pink and orange in dusk’s light. All the while, impatiently waiting while they cultivated strong, healthy colonies capable of rebounding from a honey harvest.

Opening bee hive early one morning to harvest honey
Early morning sun shining on the girls hard at work. Looks like we are ready to harvest honey.

And cultivate they did!

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Early one May morning curiosity got the best of me, so I lit my smoker, donned my stylish bee suit, and took a peek into the hives. Wedging my hive tool between the cover and top box, the nectarous scent of honey wafted out amid the thrum of thousands of beating wings.

Gently setting the hive cover aside, I inspected all the frames within the box and found them laden with capped honeycomb!

Opening bee hive early one morning to harvest honey
Check out those full frames of honey! Harvest time!

Finally! Time to harvest or “rob” some honey!

Beyond excited, I closed the hive back up and began planning. Not only would I need an extra set of hands but also a few items to make the process run smoothly.

But my excitement was quickly doused when faced with the outrageous prices of equipment offered by beekeeping catalogs and websites.

Six hundred dollars for a beginner’s extractor kit?!? Two hundred dollars for a hand-cranked “economy” extractor?!? Thirty dollars for a plain five-gallon bucket with a “honey gate”?

Nope, nope, and nope. Time to get creative.

Since we only plan on robbing just a few frames from each hive, the “crush and strain” method would suffice. Aptly named; this method requires standard kitchen equipment found in most retail or bulk supply stores.

My Honey Harvest Supply List:

I found everything I needed, except for the honey gates, at a local commercial kitchen supply store for around $60. I found the honey gates on Amazon.

Once my gates arrived, Mr. Gypsy kindly drilled a 1 3/4-inch hole into my tray and bucket and attached my honey gates. Next step, harvesting!

Harvesting or Robbing Honey

Just as the sun began to rise and before the temperature could climb any higher, we slipped into our suits and gathered our tools. With gloved hands, we opened the first hive, gently applying a puff of smoke or two.

honey bees on honey comb
Honey bees, what a beautify sight!

I shimmied out the first frame and held it while Mr. Gypsy softly brushed the bees off the comb and back into the hive. Working quickly, he placed the frame in the tote and replaced the lid, ensuring no hitchhikers make their way back to the house.

We conservatively collected just four frames from each hive, replacing them with empty frames.

The hard part over, it was time to get sticky. Rubber exam gloves and spatula in hand, I scraped the honeycomb off the foundations into the wide container.

scraping honey and comb from frame
Using my scraper, I simply scraped the honey and comb from the frame.

Next, I crushed and squeezed the comb to release as much honey as possible. Under the wide container filled with crushed comb and honey, I placed the deep container and strainer. You can line it with cheesecloth if your strainer isn’t fine-meshed enough.

filtering raw honey
Using a strainer stretched across my deep container, I then opened the honey gate and filtered the raw honey to remove bits of comb.

Lastly, I allowed the slurry to strain overnight resulting in almost 2 gallons of pure, raw, unadulterated deliciousness ready to be bottled. This also resulted in several pounds of natural, sticky beeswax.

No need to worry about any waste here. After crushing and straining I placed the remnants out by the hives. The girls stripped the wax of any remaining honey, leaving me with plenty of wax to render down for…well, something, but that’s another post for another time.

Bonus Honey Harvesting Video!

See the whole process in action!

My First Lessons as an Accidental Beekeeper

Spring on the Farm: Old Dirt, New Ideas

Keeping Chickens – It’s All About the Small Victories

And Thats How to Rock Harvesting or Robbing Honey

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Jessica

Jessica

I’m an internationally published freelance travel writer and photographer with over 20 articles featured in TexasHillCountry.com. I’ve been featured in Heart of Texas Magazine, Texas Lifestyle Magazine, Lost Treasure Magazine, and in Travel by Lightfoot Magazine. I’m a current contributor for my local CVB, VisitLakeCharles.org, as well as Great Escape Publishing, MilesGeek.com and ConfettiTravelCafe.com.

2 Comments

  • Barb says:

    Girl, I love your life! This was fascinating!

    • Jessica says:

      Awww thank you so much! But your life is equally (if not more) beautiful and fascinating! Full of family, God winks, and ancient Central American and European towns! I’m going to have to visit, I miss you my friend!

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