West Michigan bees have had a busy couple months making honey, and now it’s time for beekeepers to cash in on the gooey sweetness.
September is National Honey Month, or as beekeepers call it, “Harvest Month.” It’s a beekeeper’s favorite time of year as they visit their colonies and reap the benefits from the beehive’s work throughout the past couple of months.
Experts recommend that beekeepers harvest their honey crop when the hive is full of capped honey – or when a cell is completely covered in white wax and honey is not visible. In Michigan, this can happen anytime toward the end of August through the first frost – usually in early October.
Begin your honey harvest by clearing the honeybees off of the frames, then scraping the wax capping from the top of the honeycomb. (Don’t throw away the wax! You can do so much with beeswax – more on that later.) Once the wax has been removed, you are ready to extract the honey.
Trained beekeepers often use an extracting machine to get the honey out of the comb and into a jar. This helps to preserve the comb so the bees can still use it and fill it back up with honey.
If you don’t have a honey extractor, no problem. One of the more common ways to extract honey without an extractor is to crush and drain the comb. Using common household items, such as a wooden spoon or potato masher, mash the comb in a clean bucket and then strain it through a colander or smaller kitchen strainer.
We recommend feeding bees over winter and checking the sugar patties from time to time to make sure they have food.
Enjoy your freshly harvested honey by the spoonful or drizzled on top of your favorite dish!