Your bees have been working hard all summer long, flying form flower to flower, gathering nectar and pollen. They have been building combs and filling them, reducing the moisture content and capping the combs. You’ve been hard at work too, inspecting your hive, adding bars as the bees build comb and fill them. Now, late into the summer, all the hard work has paid off; inside your hive are full combs of capped honey.
Pure, unpasteurised honey is not only a delicious sweetener, it is also healthy. Full of antioxidants, enzymes, and a host of other ingredients, as well as being antibacterial and antiseptic; its the reason honey has been used for centuries as medicine.
A Manzer Apiary Inc. Top Bar Hive has about 30 top bars that the bees will build comb onto for the purpose of storing pollen, bee bread, royal jelly, and honey as well as for brood production. The number of bars full of capped honey will depend on the health of your bee colony. A lot can happen in those first months after getting your hive. Your bees may have a hard time finding enough flowers to source nectar from, their queen may die and she may not be replaced, the hive could swarm leaving your hive with half its numbers or they will thrive and bring lots of nectar back to the hive.
The best source of food for your bees to survive through the winter is honey so it is important to leave at least five fully capped combs of honey for them. If you find you do not have enough, you will need to feed them sugar water or fondant. All of the Manzer Apiary Inc. Top Bar Hives come with a feeder. The bees may also need to be fed in the early spring until enough flowers are in bloom.
So, you check your hive and there are more than five bars of honey, what are the next steps?
Bring with you to your hive a container with a lid, either a plastic tub or a nuc box, that the top bars can rest in just like they do in your hive. Make sure that you are wearing some type of protection from the bees like a bee suit, jacket, veil, and gloves. You are taking the honey away from the bees and this will aggravate them, so there is the potential of getting stung.
Take out the honeycomb and inspect it. Your queen should not be on this comb, but do a check just to make sure. Then, using a bee brush, gently brush the bees off the comb. Before they have a chance to land back on the comb, put it into your container or nuc box and close the lid.
This is a good time to do an inspection of the hive and add an empty bar just in front of the follower board as well as at the front of the hive to prepare for winter.
Once you’ve collected all the bars that you are going to take, its time to extract the honey!
Its very easy and affordable to extract honey from a top bar hive. You don’t need to purchase an expensive centrifuge extractor like you would need for foundation frames that can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
We have created a Honey Harvester Kit that consists of two
food grade buckets, a food grade strainer, and a honey gate. The kit costs only $50, taxes included.
To use this two-bucket system is very simple. First you put the honeycombs into the top bucket and crush them with a potato masher. There are holes drilled into the bottom of the top bucket and the strainer sits into the top of the bottom bucket. Just leave overnight and in the morning all of the honey will have strained into the bottom bucket, leaving the wax behind. When you are ready to bottle, open the honey gate and the honey will flow out.
Its that simple!
If you would like to use the wax from your hive, set the crushed combs outside. Not too close to your hives or you will encourage robbing of your hives by bumblebees and hornets. There will still be a small amount of honey in the wax and your bees as well as bumblebees and other honey loving insects will extract every last drop of honey. Then you can render the wax and use it to make candles, cosmetics, skin care products, etc.
There is so much possibility from a Manzer Apiary Inc. Top Bar Hive!