Mother nature has kindly provided us with is the natural delicacy of honey. Only talented busy bees can make this delicious nectar, and mankind can’t touch that. We are always extracting honey from the bees after they have done all the hard work of making it.
Years ago my family had a big walnut tree that bees made their hive in. It was only a few feet away from the main house but the bees never bothered anyone. My aunt got the nerve to go and get some honey from the hive and she was very successful, so you too can have a garden and bees to make honey on the side for your convenience.
Admittedly, my aunt’s method of harvesting honey is not exactly conventional by today’s standards for a number of reasons (damaged hive, bee stings, falling off ladders)! With that in mind, we had to come up with ways to protect ourselves as well as the bees when doing so. Naturally, we would eventually conclude that we must make life a bit easier for the bees because they put money in our pockets as well as sweet stuff in our bellies.
Bee-keeping is an entire artform unto itself, and there are many resources (books, videos, workshops) out there already that cover the techniques and theory behind the art of bee-keeping. For those of you with a general curiosity into how honey is collected, here is a quick 101 on extracting honey from our precious bees. This is not intended as a full step-by-step guide, just a quick overview of the process.
Doing it by hand the hard way
Put on all your protective gear and pull out your honeycomb frames. You should make sure that the bees are smoked and calm. Take a knife and cut off the wax and scrape out the honey by hand. Some people may put the frames in a warm room and let the honey slowly drain out.
If you choose to manually scrape out the honey, you will need to drain the honey from all of the wax that will be in the honey. This will cause the bees to work more to recreate the wax and start all over again.
Using an extractor
You do have the option of using a centrifugal extractor and letting the honey fly out with the spinning motion. The honey will collect at the bottom of the machine, which will consist of wax, bee parts, as well as honey, so it must be strained and filtered to get the best clear honey possible. One tool that you can use to help keep the comb intact is a roller with spikes. You then roll over the wax to poke tiny holes in each cell. This will allow the bees to repair the holes instead of starting over. There will also be the job of cleaning everything up and placing the frames back into the hive.
There is a better way
Thankfully, times have changed and we have discovered new revelations. Now there is a way to get your honey from the hive without hurting a single bee or making a mess. A new invention called the Flow Hive allows you to turn on a tap, and the honey just flows out.
No matter how you decide to extract your honey, be kind to the bees and try to make things easier on them if you can. The makers of honey will appreciate all the love and help they can get. Every bee matters.