One of the benefits of harvesting single combs at different times throughout the season is that you get to
sample honey from multiple flora sources because the bees are collecting from different nectar flows at
different times during the season. I have been amazed at the wide variety of honey flavors, even between
honey comb that I harvested just two weeks apart. The single comb harvesting method also benefits the bees.
To harvest a single comb the hive only needs to be opened very briefly, usually only for a minute or so, and
the bees hardly get disturbed at all. This is really a good method for a beginner, because it is
not as involved or intimidating as harvesting a bunch of combs at once. I think that it also develops a trust
and a confidence with the bees, giving them the message that you are both sharing in a mutual relationship
and you’re not there to strip them of all their honey. In this relationship, you have provided them with a
great home and are protecting them from the elements. In return, they share a comb with you — a symbiotic
relationship that keeps the bees healthy and keeps you from getting stung.
Now let’s get on to the details. Quite simply, we are going to extract the honey, placing it straight into
the storage jar. The honey pictured is a comb that has been removed. When I weighed the complete comb after
removing it from the top bar, this comb weighed 6.5 pounds.
What is amazing is that, when extracted, the honey weighed 6.2 lbs. so you can see that a very small amount
of wax is rendered from the comb. This particular comb filled up an entire 1 1/2 quart jar. For a quick
harvest, that’s quite a bit of honey and it’s only one comb! The comb is cut off into a bowl and mashed, until
all of the comb cells are broken up and it has a nice even consistency.
Spoon or pour this honey wax mixture into a 1 quart jar. Screw on the brass jar ring, but not the lid.
Drape a fine screen mesh over the mouth of another 1 quart jar.
I use a fine mosquito netting. Cloth or cheese cloth will not work. When the mesh is draped over the mouth
of the jar, screw on the brass jar ring to hold it in place and mist the screen with a little water to break the
surface tension that will develop when the honey flows through.
Now take the jar with the mesh and turn it upside down, setting it on top of the filled honey jar and duct tape
the two together forming a honey hourglass.
When a good seal is made, flip the hourglass over and put it in a warm place and wait for about an hour
Your honey will flow right from the honey comb into the jar, leaving behind the beeswax.
I find this method of harvesting honey from the Top Bar hive very practical and rewarding. In my area I have
found that the Burdock flowers create a beautiful, almost clear honey that is very exotic and medicinal.
When the Burdock is nearing its flowing stage I make a note of where the bees have filled combs in my hives
by looking in the window. When the Burdock blooms I can observe which combs are being filled. Then I
harvest the one or two Burdock nectar combs. Happy Harvesting!
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