Normally I'm not shy about saying things my own way, but Richard Taylor said this so well, I will not even attempt to do better. For more of his wisdom check out "The Comb Honey Book".
Richard Taylor on Comb Honey:
Richard Taylor on the expense of making wax:
From Beeswax Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products, Coggshall and Morse pg 35
The problem with most of the estimates on what it takes to make a pound of wax is they don't take into account how much honey that pound of wax will support
From Beeswax Production, Harvesting, Processing and Products, Coggshall and Morse pg 41
Crush and Strain
The method I arrived at to crush and strain, is a double bucket strainer. I use these even when I'm extracting because they hold so much honey and it's the only way I can keep up with straining as I go. Also, I can put the cappings in to strain. But before I got an extractor this was how I did it.
On the left, making the top bucket for the double bucket strainer. Drill the holes. If you make the holes small enough you can just use the bottom of the bucket for the strainer with no other strainer or screen. You can skim the wax off the top and leave whatever settles on the bottom. Cut the middle out of a lid (leaving an inch rim for the top bucket to rest on).
On the right, using the double bucket strainer to strain honey.
Removing bees for harvesting.
This is always a topic rife with disagreement. A lot of this is due to personal experience. Timing of these methods changes the outcomes tremendously.
C.C. Miller's favorite method is usually called "abandonment". This is where you pull each box off the hive and set it on its end so the top and bottom are exposed. This is best done at the end of the flow but not during a dearth and just after sunset but before dark. The bees tend to wander back to the hive and you can take the supers. If there is brood in them, they will not leave. If there is a dearth you will set off a robbing frenzy. If you do it in the middle of the afternoon this will be harder to deal with. This requires handling the boxes twice. Once to take them off and once to load them up. (I'm not counting the rest of the process)
Some people just pull each frame, shake or brush off the bees and put the frame in a different box with a cover. This puts many bees in the air and is a bit intimidating and is tedious. You move every box a frame at a time and then you load the boxes a box at a time.
There are several kinds and the results may vary based on the kind. I never had any luck with the Porter escapes that go in the hole on the inner cover. But I have liked the triangular ones from Brushy Mt. Usually the supers are removed, the escape is put on (it's one way so be sure its the right way, letting the bees out, but not in) and you wait a day or two for the bees to leave. Again, they will not leave if there is brood in the supers. I prefer to put one of these on a bottom board (with the escape down) and stack supers up about as high as I can reach them and then put one on top (with the escape up) and come back in 24 to 48 hours. The biggest disadvantage is you have to handle every box three times if you put it on the hive (once to get them off, then put on the escape, then stack them back on the hive, then load them up) and twice if you put it on its own bottom board (once to stack them on the bottom board and once to load them up).
The concept is to just blow all the bees off the combs. Some people use a leaf blower and some buy a bee blower. One argument against is that anything strong enough to blow the bees off will rip many of them in half. I've never used it so I can't say.
I listed this separate from Bee Quick although they have some things in common, I don't consider them even in the same ballpark. Both are bee repellents that are used to drive the bees from the supers. Bee Go and Honey Robber are Butyric which is not a food safe chemical and smells like vomit. Honey robber smells like cherry flavored vomit. The chemical is put on a fume board, which is put on top of the hive. The bees are driven down and the supers are pulled off and loaded. They are only handled once. I have smelled it. I have never used it.
Jim doesn't want to give away his trade secrets so he won't say what's in this. But is smells like benzaldehyde to me. Benzaldehyde is the smell of Maraschino cherries. After making benzaldehyde in my organic chem. class, I've never been able to eat a Maraschino cherry again. It's also the main ingredient in artificial almond flavoring. But Jim Fischer assures us this is nothing but food grade essential oils. It certainly smells better and, by all accounts, is much safer than butyric. Otherwise it works on the same principle. You put it on a fume board on top and drive the bees down. The supers only have to be handled once to load them. I have smelled it and it smells fine, but I have never used it.
Copyright 2006/2007 by Michael Bush