Tag Archives: Honey

Sweet, Sweet Honey. How To Harvest and Extract.

It’s time to harvest and extract your honey. If you are a BCBA member you have the advantage of renting the club honey extraction equipment. The club has everything you need to get the job done: an extractor, a planer to uncap the honey, an uncapping tub, a straining set up, and 5-gallon food grade buckets. First things first, you will need to pull the honey which means getting the supers off the hives and the bees out of the supers = honey harvest. There are several ways to do this.

Honey Harvest Tools

  1. Beekeepers Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) – suit/ jacket/veil/ gloves
  2. Smoker/ Fuel/ Lighter
  3. Supers for transportation
  4. Hive tool
  5. Old Towel


  1. Light the smoker. Use the hive tool, open lid slowly and blow some smoke in the hive.
  2. Have empty supers ready to place capped honey frames in. A cloth cover is recommended to prevent robbing and to keep the frames bee free.
  3. Remove frames with capped honey from the hive and inspect the comb. Uncapped cells with some nectar in it should not be harvested – only capped honey.
  4. Remove bees from the frames by doing a quick snap of the frame similar to getting the bees off the frame when you do a mite check and then use a bee brush to gently remove any bees lingering on the
  5. Place the capped honey frames into the empty super and cover with cloth (old towel works great) and prepare to to transport to your honey extraction location.

Once you have pulled all of your supers you are ready to set up for honey extraction. You will want to select a place that you are able to keep the bees out of. If you decide to extract outside in the open, you will have unwanted visitor bees, and lots of them.

Extraction Tools

  1. Uncapping tools – heated knife / serrated knife/ planer/ uncapping fork, spiked roller
  2. Uncapping Tub for wax/honey
  3. Extractor 
  4. Food-grade bucket for honey
  5. Double screened strainer; catch wax and impurities as honey is poured from extractor
  6. Containers for honey
  7. Bucket of warm water and rags


  • Mount the frame above the tub being used to collect wax cappings and honey.
  • Use the heated knife or tool of choice to unseal the capped honey cells.
  • Lean the heated knife on the edges of the frame and move “fast” – don’t linger too long or the honey may burn.
  • Repeat for both sides of the frame. The heated knife takes off most of the caps. For the honey cells that did not get upcapped, use an uncapping fork and gently shave off the caps.
Using an uncapping plane to extract honey
  • Place the frames with both sides uncapped into the extractor as you uncap them.
  • Once the extractor is full of frames, close the lid and start spinning slowly increasing speed until the honey is spun out of the comb and is stuck to the bottom and sides of the extractor.
  • If using the club extractor you will need to flip the frames and repeat the spinning.
  • Remove the spun frames and return them to the super and spin the remainder of your frames.
  • Place your food grade bucket under the spigot of the extractor.
  • Use a double screened strainer to catch the wax and impurities as the honey pours out of the extractor.
  • Before bottling, letting the extracted honey sit for 48 hours allows air bubbles and sediment to settle out.
Using an extractor similar to the one the club owns and rents out to members

Clean Extractor and Tools

Bees love to help clean up the honey covered frames with the majority of the honey extracted. Take your extracted supers back to the hive, set an empty super on top of the inner cover and place the extracted supers on top of the empty box (thus leaving a space between the inner cover and the extracted frames). This extra space “fools” the bees into thinking they are leaving the hive, finding honey, and they will bring is down into to hive proper. Remove the cleaned up frames after a couple of days. If you leave them on the hive too long, the bees will sometimes start back filling them again.

Leaving the boxes with extracted frames randomly outside the hive can instigate robbing behaviors which should be avoided. Placing them on the hives ensures your bees have “first dibs” of the leftovers and minimizes robbing behaviors.

You will end up with a mix of wax cappings and honey in the uncapping tub when the extracting is completed. You can leave them in the tub for the honey to drain overnight then open the gate on the tub the following day and strain the honey. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amount of additional honey you will be able to harvest.

Once you have strained the honey from the uncapping tub and removed your left over
cappings (save them to use later or give to your favorite beekeeper) you can place the tubs and strainers outside FAR from your hives to let the bees clean up. If you decide to try your hand at cleaning the strainer be sure to use COLD water.


Extracted honey should have a moisture content at or below 18%. The club has a refractometer which is used to test moisture content. If the honey has too much moisture – 19% or greater, it may ferment. Often times when there is a high moisture content it comes from extracting frames containing uncapped honey. Some people have success reducing the moisture from the honey using a dehumidifier.

Wash containers the honey will go into and let air dry. Fill containers with honey, label and share with friends. 

2023 WI Honey Queen

BCBA club member, Kaelyn Sumner, Crowned WI Honey Queen

The Wisconsin Honey Producers Association announced that Kaelyn Sumner was selected as the 2023 Wisconsin Honey Queen at their annual convention. Kaelyn has been a member of BCBA since 2018 and many will remember her presentation of the results of a honey study while she was in high school. Kaelyn is currently a junior at Kansas State University, majoring in Agricultural Education with minors in Food Science and Entomology.

Kaelyn will spend the rest of this year promoting the beekeeping industry in Wisconsin.  She is available to speak with civic groups and to appear at fairs, festivals, and farmers markets.  She will also give presentations in schools about honeybees and the beekeeping industry.  In January 2024, Kaelyn will represent Wisconsin at the American Honey Queen competition at the American Beekeeping Federation Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Kaelyn presenting her study results to the club

Follow Queen Kaelyn’s activities on Facebook at Wisconsin Honey Queen Program. To schedule an appearance or interview with Wisconsin Honey Queen Kaelyn Sumner, contact the Wisconsin Honey Queen Chairperson, Mary Kettlewell, at 414.429.5502 or by email at wihoneyqueenprogram@gmail.com.

Club Activities in 2019

August 2019 – The state apiary inspectors visited the hives of number club members. Read more here.

Inspecting hive

July 2019 -As is typical in July for the club instead of a meeting we held a picnic. Special thanks to Dick and Carol Sturm for coordinating the picnic and to James Arvey for being the grill master and providing samples of his homemade wine.

June 2019 – Members of BCBA were treated to a honey and cheese tasting event. Kent Pegorsch, president of the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association (WHPA), presented information on the different Wisconsin flowers and nectar sources. Every participant received a flavor wheel and color chart from the American Honey Tasting society (AHTS) as they tasted various honey samples side by side. These were paired with different types of artisan cheeses supplied by Nala’s Fromagerie in De Pere.

June 2019 – BCBA partnered with Girl Scout Troop 4679 to assist the young ladies in their Girl Scout journey. You can read more here.

Girl Scouts helping install bees into boxes they painted.

February 2019 – The “Meeting Before the Meeting” in February was a hive inspection of a hive that died over the winter. A search was made for the queen but she was not found. The bees either starved, although there were some frames with honey, OR the hive didn’t have enough ventilation so the bees were damp. The group was split 50/50 on the cause.

February 2019 – The Club was well represented at the Einstein Expo where over 3000 students passed by our booth. The Club’s mission to “…. create an environment where learning opportunities exist for association members and the general public.” was accomplished. The questions were endless and enthusiasm for bees infectious.

February 2019 – On a cold Saturday 28 brand new beekeepers gathered at NWTC to attend BCBA’s 7 hour Introduction to Beekeeping Class. Experienced members of BCBA presented numerous topics required to bring new beekeepers up to speed. Talk about drinking from a fire hose!

Bees and Bears

A club member sent us pictures of his hives encounter with a bear. He found frames in various places around yard. He was able to put the hive back together and hopes the queen made it. Here is his quote: “Had to hunt down a few pieces in the brush.  Found the spot where the bear laid down to suck up his spoils.    Probably at least ¾ of the honey is still there, just some grass and dead bugs on it.  Which means he’ll likely be back for more.  I’m hoping the bees gave him enough incentive to stay away, which is probably why he didn’t destroy everything in sight.”

Bears knocked the hive off its stand. Luckily the propolis held the boxes together or maybe the bear got scared off before tearing into the boxes.
The hive was strapped down and the bear was still able to knock it off the stand.
The bear carried some of the equipment into the woods. Fortunately most of the equipment was not damaged.
The hive put back together with most of the bees intact. An electric fence is the next step.