Category Archives: Removing and processing your honey crop

Posts related to removing honey from the hive, extracting and bottling

Robbing – honey bees as thieves!


Yes, our honey bees can become little criminals and steal from their neighbors! The threat of larceny is usually not great in the spring and early summer when a good nectar flow is on, but as the flow slows or stops (as occurs from time to time, especially in periods of dry weather), bees are on the lookout for any food they can find. So watch out! It is that time of year. The closest source is often a neighboring hive. Colonies with strong populations can usually defend themselves. New nucs and divides, recently captured swarms, and any hives which have not built up well or which are dwindling due to disease, pests, or other causes, are all likely targets of robbing bees. The culprits may come from your own hives, from your neighbor’s, or from nearby bee trees. Continue reading

Why Is the Honey in Those Jars Different Colors?

As beekeepers, one of the questions we hear most often is, “Why is the honey different colors?”

And of course, we know the answer and are quick to give it; the color depends on the floral source. This article from Western Farm Press expands on that response and provides details which may make us appreciate anew the uniqueness and complexity of each batch of honey, and the incredible amount of work which goes into producing every ounce. Beekeepers may want to forward it to friends. It starts off with an interview with my friend Jon Zawislak, apiculture specialist with the University of Arkansas.

Phil’s latest beekeeping blunder!

I think beekeepers appreciate the fact that I will readily confess to making mistakes, especially with regard to beekeeping. Many times I’ve heard beekeepers reluctantly admit to doing something that caused them problems in the bee yard. They seem relieved when I say, “I did that once” or “let me tell you what I did…”.

Well, I did it again and I even made the same mistake more than once this year. And while not causing any serious damage to a hive, it has caused me (and my bees as well) some inconvenience. Continue reading

Removing Honey from Your Hive or Separating the Bees from Their Honey

A new task for novice beekeepers this time of year may be removing honey supers from the hives. Actually, removing them is pretty easy – just stick your hive tool under the corner of the honey super, break the seal (bees ALWAYS have it glued to whatever is underneath) and lift the super off. The trick is to get the bees out of the supers before you pry them off and to keep them out while getting the supers out of the apiary.

There are four methods commonly used by beekeepers to separate the bees from the honey. I’m going to concentrate on the last two methods, but briefly discuss the first two.

  • Bee blowers
  • Bee escapes
  • Shaking and brushing
  • Bee repellants

Continue reading

When should I remove honey from my hives?

As I expected, it has gotten very dry here in central Kentucky, bone dry, crunchy dry, no mowing grass dry, brown dry, dry! These conditions have brought an end to the nectar flow here and likely, in surrounding parts of the country. Many beekeepers are now extracting honey and many new beekeepers are contemplating removing their first honey crops. This post will commence several on removing, processing and bottling honey. In addition, as the nectar flow ends things are different in our hives. Our bees go from collecting and storing honey to eating honey, egg laying and brood production decreases, and problems with robbing increases. These changes present new challenges for our bees and management issues for beekeepers. I’ll write in detail about these issues in upcoming posts. Continue reading

A Beekeeper Asks: What is “non-raw” honey called?

A beekeeper asks: When you extract honey and pass it through a strainer, you can sell it as raw honey. What is not-raw honey called?

Phil’s reply:
First, let’s consider what is meant by raw honey. There is no definitive or legal definition as far as I know. I consider virtually all honey sold by local beekeepers to be raw honey. Some people may think of the term as applying only to honey which is unfiltered (no filtering or straining at all) and unheated during extraction and bottling. To others, honey is raw if it has undergone only minimal processing, but that is another subjective term. Continue reading

Pulled and extracted honey yesterday

I spent yesterday afternoon pulling and then extracting eight supers of honey. This is the earliest in the season I have ever harvested honey, and I could have taken this off at least a week ago. The honey is extremely light in color, the result of a heavy black locust bloom, the best in years, and of Asian bush honeysuckle, an invasive exotic shrub which is common here.

I’m off to St. Louis this morning to visit the University of Missouri in St. Louis, the planned site of this summer’s Heartland Apicultural Society Conference. Watch the HAS webpage for upcoming new information about this summer’s conference.