Harvesting Honey from Your Own Beehives
There are many reasons to get involved in beekeeping. A desire for harvesting honey from bees in your own hives is the most common reason people keep bees. The promise of fresh honey straight from the hive leads thousands of beekeepers to invest the time and money into a beekeeping project. But, honey production requires some good planning-it doesn’t just happen.
Producing a good honey crop can take some time. In many regions, those of you who start new colonies from scratch may not get a honey harvest the first season. I know, I know – its difficult to wait a whole year.
However, your beekeeping adventure will not be successful unless your bees are able to survive Winter.
New honey bee colonies have a lot of work to do before cold weather comes. This work includes storing enough honey for Winter.
The amount of honey needed by the colony will vary greatly from one region to another. If you have to start over every year because your bees starve that’s not good beekeeping.
Is Harvesting Honey Bad for Bees?
No, I believe that harvesting honey is not bad for bees. This is true as long as the beekeeper practices responsible management.
It is important for any beekeeper to refrain from taking too much honey. Without good food stores, your hives will be dead before Spring.
A good beekeeper learns how much honey is required for the bees to have plentiful store for Winter. If that means the beekeeper doesn’t get a harvest… well he/she needs to wait for next year.
How Many Times a Year Can You Harvest Honey?
Exactly when your harvest is ready and how many crops you get depends on many local factors. Hive strength, local weather conditions and other factors come into play.
Honey is not harvested year-round in most regions. I harvest once a season whereas some beekeepers have 2 harvest periods. Honey production varies across different areas.
After learning about local beekeeping conditions, you can plan your time to collect honey from the bees. Perhaps you will have a Spring harvest and a Fall harvest – some regions do.
During your first honey harvests, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. From getting the honey off the hive to getting the honey out of the comb, you have several things to consider.
In my post about how to harvest honey, we consider the best ways to get honey off the beehive. Then, how to separate the honey from the comb. There are several methods to do this. You will need to choose the one that works for you, your time and budget.
Bringing in a honey harvest is a lot of fun but it can be hard work too. I have a collection of a few quick tips for harvesting honey that might help you get off to a good start.
Processing Honey After Harvest
Protecting your honey harvest is just as important as collecting it. If you have a lot of honey, you will probably store it in 5 gallon buckets.
Smaller producers usually bottle up the total crop into jars. Quart jars are the most common size for storing honey.
These are not as heavy as buckets and are easy to re-pour into smaller containers if desired.
Beekeepers have many different choices when it comes to honey containers. Good honey always deserves a nice clean container.
If you plan to give away or sell honey, plan on having containers of different sizes. Consumers who use a lot of honey will go for the big jars.
Those who are not as familiar with raw honey like to buy smaller containers. Now let’s get that honey packaged and bottled and ready to use.
Do Your Honey Jars Need A Label?
Once your honey crop is ready to sell or give away – you have another consideration. Labels for your honey jars!
Honey labels are be purchased ready to use – where you just add the weight and contact information. Or, you can design and print your own label.
Either way, the honey harvest is not complete until you have the correct information on each jar.
This is especially important if you are planning to sell them. In my honey labeling guide, I cover the key elements that need to be in place on every honey jar.
Final Thoughts on Harvesting Honey from Your Beehives
Producing honey requires a level of patience. Educate yourself and understand the needs of your colony. Strong, healthy hives produce more honey.
And, I always tell students in my online beekeeping class, ” nothing will ever taste better than honey from your own beehive”.
A lot of hard work is involved in harvesting honey from bees. Make the most out of every drop.