The Bee Space

Cut Comb Honey Harvest


Last September I harvested some honeycomb from one of my Warre hives.  In Spring of 2008 I had hived a huge swarm, and over the summer they built up a big hive with lots of good looking honey comb.  I decided I would harvest a box of cut comb honey from this hive.

First, I removed the roof and the quilt. This exposed the cloth that covers the top hive box. Then, I carefully peeled back the cloth on the top box, and took a look at the bees. They were happily attending to the honeycomb. I used my smoker to blow some smoke into the beehive to move the bees into the lower boxes. Then, I slowly twisted the top box in a circle to break the propolis bond the bees had put into place to seal the hive boxes together.

As I worked, I made sure I was gentle and calm around the honeybees, and I also tried to make my movements smooth and efficient. This goes far to help the bees to remain calm.

As I took off the top box, a cluster of honeybees gathered on the top bars of the next box to gather some of the honey which dripped from the honeycomb in the top hive box. You can see these bees at work in the photo below.

I needed to put the cloth back onto the hive, so I took my smoker and gently smoked the bees back into their hive. Unlike those misrepresentations of beekeepers in “The Bee Movie,” I do not routinely smoke my beehives to the point of annihilation. I prefer to use either no smoke at all, or a gentle spray of sugar water. Actually, this was the first time I used the smoker on this beehive all summer!

I gently replaced the cloth, and laid the quilt back on top of the hive. Then I replaced the hive roof. Now I could focus on how to get the bees out of the hive box and back into the main beehive. Even though I had used the smoker, there were still plenty of bees in the hive box.

Go on to the next page to continue the adventure!

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I used the smoker again to clear the hive box of the honeybees still inside. The bees literally ran out of the box and up the side of the beehive the moment I began to blow smoke into the box. It was a rush of bees! I kept blowing until most of the bees were out of the box of honeycomb.

I set the honey box in front of the beehive and blew smoke into it at periodic intervals. It took some doing, but I finally removed all of the bees out of the hive box. After the hive box was emptied of the bees, I took it into my shop. There I snapped this photo to show you what the underside of honeycomb looks like. This is the bottom of the hive box.

I set the hive box right side up on my workbench. I used my hive tool to remove the top bar of one of the combs. It came off quite nicely, leaving the honeycomb attached to the sides of the box only.

After flipping the box over, I used a serrated knife to cut the honeycomb away from the sides of the hive box. The serrated knife worked better than I had hoped. I did not even need to heat it, and it still cut efficiently. Once the honeycomb was cut away from the sides, it came out of the box very easily. There is nothing quite like fresh honeycomb…just soft beeswax full of delicious honey.

I cut some honeycomb into chunks for my family to see. Of course, they all wanted a taste. And of course, they thought it was great. When I tasted the honey, I could detect a definite maple/blackberry/clover flavor. Not surprising since we have clover fields, blackberry bushes and maple trees very near our house. All in all, I thought this honeycomb had a very good flavor. I am not prejudiced…am I?