Got bees? Follow these steps to harvest the sweet nectar from your hives.
Step 1: Prepare the smoker Load a smoker with dry leaves, twigs or other kindling. Light it, and pump the bellows. Shut the lid and continue to pump the bellows until the nozzle starts blowing smoke.
Step 2: Put on protective gear Put on a beekeeping suit, or just wear clothing that covers all exposed skin. Wear a bee hat with a bee veil, and work gloves.
TIP: Some experienced beekeepers don't wear gloves, finding that they get in the way.
Step 3: Smoke the bees Remove the cover from the beehive's top box, called the super, and blow smoke on the bees by pumping the bellows; this sedates them. Then, use the hive tool to remove the inner cover, smoking the bees more if necessary.
Step 4: Check the comb Pry out a frame from the super with the hive tool. If you see a wax layer that completely encloses the honeycomb in the frame, it's "capped" and ready to harvest.
Step 5: Remove the frames Carefully take a frame out and gently shake off the bees. Use the brush to remove the rest of the bees. Put the frame in a box or other container and cover it. Once you've collected the frames that are ready to be harvested, take them to another location to extract the honey – or the bees will come after you!
Step 6: Uncap the frames Plug in the uncapping tool and run it over one side of the frame to remove the layer of wax covering the honeycomb called a cap. Once one side of the frame has been uncapped, turn it over and uncap the other side.
TIP: To strain the honey from the caps, put them on a honey filter and allow it to slowly drain out into a collection bucket.
Step 7: Extract the honey Place the frames in an extractor. Spin them until the honey collects at the bottom of the extractor. Open the valve at the bottom of the extractor and run the honey through a strainer or honey filter to remove wax and debris.
Step 8: Settle and bottle Let the freshly filtered honey sit for a day in a covered collection bucket to allow air bubbles to escape and additional debris to separate. Then, put it into bottles and jars and enjoy!
FACT: Pollinating bees, along with birds and bats, account for about a third of all crop production, increasing the output of 87 of the world's leading food crops.