The best time to harvest honey depends on the type of honey and the climate in which it is produced. In general, it is best to harvest honey when the nectar flow is over and the bees have had time to process and store the nectar as honey. This usually occurs in late summer or early fall, but the exact timing can vary depending on the type of flowers that the bees are collecting nectar from and the weather conditions.
In temperate climates, the main honey flow usually takes place in late spring and early summer, while in tropical climates, it can occur throughout the year. Some beekeepers will wait until the majority of the honey in the hive has been capped (i.e., covered with wax) before harvesting, as this indicates that the honey is fully processed and ready for extraction.
It is important to be mindful of the timing of the harvest, as removing too much honey too soon can stress the bees and leave them without enough food to survive the winter. On the other hand, waiting too long to harvest can result in the honey becoming too old and spoilage.
The process of harvesting honey involves several steps:
Determine readiness: Before harvesting honey, you need to determine whether the honey is ready to be harvested. This can be done by checking the color of the honey, the type of flower the bees are collecting nectar from, and the amount of honey in the comb.
Prepare the Hive: Remove any honey frames from the hive and set them aside. Then, carefully remove the bees from the frames using a bee brush or your hand. You can also use a bee smoker to calm the bees and make it easier to harvest the honey. https://youtu.be/LanWDAriJ5E
Extract the honey: There are several ways to extract honey from the comb, including using a manual or electric extractor. A manual extractor works by spinning the honey frame to remove the honey, while an electric extractor uses centrifugal force to spin the honey out of the comb. https://youtube.com/shorts/o7YoP2yulT4
Strain the honey: Once the honey has been extracted, you need to strain it to remove any wax, debris or dead bees. A double-sieve strainer or cheesecloth works well for this.
Store the honey: Finally, you can store the honey in jars or containers. Be sure to label the containers with the date and type of honey.
It’s important to note that harvesting honey should be done with caution to avoid harming the bees and their colony. Wearing protective gear, such as a bee suit and gloves, is recommended.