Bee Keeping · Homesteading

Low Tech Processing Honey Out Of Frames

In our previous home we kept honey bees, and I wrote about our bee keeping often. The winter before we moved to the island, our colonies collapsed due to an attack from predatory yellow jackets. With us busy getting ready to move, and feeling very blue over losing our hives, we took out the frames and sealed them up in trash bags and froze them. Our plan had been to use them to start new hives at our new place, but we came to the realization that we didn’t have enough flowering plants the first year to support honey bees.

As we have cleared the forest on our land, and restored the land since April of 2018 the land is getting close to being ready for honey bees again. The Salal, Evergreen Huckleberries, Salmon Berries, and Thimbleberries are in a massive bloom this year. Add in the Foxglove (that is invasive, but flowers so well), the Madrona Trees and the extensive herbal gardens I have put in….we might be ready by next year.

But….I wanted the freezer back. We hauled out the frames and realized we needed to process them finally. Kirk found an affordable and easy method to get the honey. Sure, it is a little messy, but then any way to get the honey off the frames is! And it was under $20…..

Meet the VIVO stainless steel mesh set.

We found the easiest way to scrape the honeycomb off the frames was a thin offset spatula. Slid across perfectly.

While it makes the honey not raw, heat is needed for this system to work the best. After playing around, I found my metal double boiler set worked the best. I scraped the honeycomb into it, and set it over medium heat, lowering the heat to low eventually.

I let it get mostly liquid, then took it off the heat. Walk away and let it cool down. The beeswax will separate from the honey. Give it a few hours. If in a hot area, you are going to need to chill it.

Using two large spoons, pull back the beeswax mess on top, and put into a stainless steel bowl. Some honey will go with it.

We scraped all the honey into the mesh strainer. We put the strainer across a wide/deep stainless steel pot to catch the honey.

Walk away and let gravity do its thing. It will pour fast enough.

We repeated this process until all was processed, then we took the beeswax mess, and remelted it down, and let it separate again, to get any missed honey. (The reason I put it all in a stainless steel bowl, is I can put that on top of the double boiler pot and melt it directly.)

So yes, it does take time, and yes, it is VERY messy. But it was worth it.

We got many quarts out of the frames, and the honey is simply amazing.

As for the frames? Once I got out what I could, we set them outside and let the local population start cleaning them up. Eventually the frames will be fully cleaned, and ready to put away.

Disclaimer…..Your pots will get beeswax on them. If you care, this is not your method. You can get it off by pouring boiling water over the pots – do this outside, not over your sink. Try to avoid getting beeswax in your sink. No matter what, pour boiling water down your sink after, as insurance against any wax getting down there. If you have residual sticky on pots, scrub hand dishwashing soap directly on the spots and rinse with very hot water.