" Blog da Horta Biológica: Harvesting and Extraction of Raw Honey

Harvesting and Extraction of Raw Honey

Have you ever seen how honey is harvested? It's a very beautiful process and in this post we will talk about all the steps, from opening the beehive to obtaining a wonderful raw honey! At the end of the post watch our video where we show all the phases, harvesting, centrifuge, filtering, and storage of honey. 








Whether you are just curious about beekeeping or are thinking about getting started in this area, here are several practical tips and advice for optimum results.


When To Harvest?


Harvesting must be done in the peak of summer, from the moment that flowering has ended, usually from the month of July. 

We did it during the month of August, after several regular visits to the beehives over the year to ensure the wellbeing of bees. 

Honey must be harvested during the day when most of the swarm is out of the hives, looking for food in the fields. This usually happens during the hours of greatest heat. At the end of the day the bees return to the hive from which they no longer leave after dark.



Necessary Materials


It is important to have all the material clean, organized, and ready to use before going out to the field.

Here is the list of necessary clothing and materials:


Clothing
  • Beekeeper suit
  • Beekeeping gloves
  • Boots or closed shoes

Materials
  • Frame griper 
  • Bee smoker + lighter (Optional. Beware of forest fire!)
  • Bee brush
  • Scraper
  • Box for transportation of frames (Optional)
  • Honey knife (electrica or not)
  • Honey filter strainers
  • Honey extractor 
  • Glass jars for storage

In case you have doubts about the material, here are some images and suggestions. 


Beekeeper Suit
Gloves
Frame Griper
Bee Smoker
Bee Brush




Scraper
Knife
Filter
Centrifuge






















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How To Harvest?

  1. Using all the protective material, start by opening the hive. Position yourself behind the hive entrance or on its side.
  2. After removing the covers use a frame griper and observe the frames one by one on each super. For this task some people use a bee smoker to keep the bees away. We stopped doing it to reduce the risk of forest fire.
  3. Choose the frames to be taken from the hive according to the amount of honey in the combs.
  4. Before leaving, close the hive very carefully so as not to crush the bees.


What Quantity To Take From The Hive?


Bees produce more than they consume but the beekeeper must not take more than 30% of honey from the hive to avoid taking a risk on the swarn's survival.

Do not take honey from the hive body or brood chamber. In addition to the breedeing it contains reserves of honey and pollen that feed the bees during the winter months. 



Transport To The Extraction Site


The frames can be transported in two ways. You can take the entire super with you or  place the frames ina a box, which allows you to transport fewer bees away from the hive.

We take the frames and use a bee brush  to remove the bees carefully. We put the frames one by one in the box, always placing the lid so that the bees cannot enter. Seriously, you don't want to take them home with you! 

We transport the box to the proximity of the extraction site and examine the box to ensure that there are no bees left. If there are any, they will call the swarn to the place where the honey is. 



Centrifuge


The honey extractor can be electric or manual and must be previously clean and ready to receive the honey. 

  1. With a honey knife, cut the combs on both sides on each frame and place them inside the extractor. 
  2. After centrifuging the frames must be placed again in the box or super to be returned to the hive.  
The frames must be placed in the hive just as they are, that is, with drawn combs. If we place frames with new beeswax foundation sheets, the bees will have to consume more honey to draw new combs. By placing frames in the hive with the honeycombs already drawn, the bees do not need to consume so much honey. We are saving them work!



Filtering


  1. For filtering, two filters and a large container are used. The filters separate the honey from the wax, and the container collects the honey.  
  2. Just open the outlet mouth of the extractor and honey and wax start to come out. 
  3. The wax is retained in the filters and the honey in the container. 
When the honey is clean, it can be stored. 



Storage


Honey must be stored in well-sealed glass jars in a cool, dry place. If the honey is in a cold place it will be almost solid and it will be difficult to remove from the jar. That's what happens with raw honey!



What Is Raw Honey?


Raw honey is the honey as it is extracted from the beehive, without undurgoing any industrialized process.

Honey that is sold commercially on a large scale goes through refinement processes that make it more translucid and appealing to the consumer. However, these processes remove beneficial nutrients such as polen, antioxidants, and enzymes. It is also known that sugars and other sweeteners are added to commerciallized honey to reduce production costs. 

There are several ways to distinguish raw honey from industrialized honey, which we will talk about in another post so that this one doesn't get too long.



What To Do With Beeswax?


The beeswax left in the extractor and filter can be melted and clean so that it can be used in artisanal products such as soap, cosmetics, ans candles.

Check our post and video How To Clean Beeswax to know how to melt, filter, and store this wonderful natural product.



For a better understanding of the whole process, watch our educational video where we show honey harvesting step-by-step.



VIDEO - Harvesting and Extraction of Raw Honey











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