Two of my beehives were getting full (even after a wet summer) so it was time to give them a little space. I decided to remove three bars of caped comb from each.
I lifted the first bar giving me room to slide the other bars along. (I no longer have a follower board in my strongest hive as the bees have expanded to fill the whole thing). I moved the bars along until I came to the caped combs, which happened to be about four bars along in both hives. I lifted each bar out carefully then with a sharp jerk shook of most of the bees. I removed the rest using a soft bee brush. I then put each bar into one of the small NUC s I had built. It takes six bars so is just right for placing the full combs into. When I had removed three combs from the first hive I gave the Nuc a couple of puffs of smoke to keep the bees away and covered it with a cloth leaving a corner turned back slightly so any stragglers could escape.
I replaced the bars with new empty bars and closed the hive back up. I worked carefully from the storage end of the hive without disturbing the brood area, which is another advantage in having a hive with offset entrances. I repeated the process with the other hive and once it was closed back up I carried the honeycombs in the Nuc up to the house away from the bees.
I lifted each bar in turn, brushed of any remaining bees and cut the comb from the bar into a food standard bucket.
I put the lid on the bucket and stood it in the kitchen. I cleaned the remainder of the comb from the bars and stored the Nuc box and bars away in the shed.
To extract the honey from the comb I use the crush and strain method. First I cut the comb into smaller chunks.
Then with disposable rubber cloves break it up finely by hand. I find this the best way of doing it rather than using a tool such as a potato masher or wooden block. It is easier to get the comb and honey into a fine mush and remove any missed debris such as the odd earwig or bee.
The result should look like this.
There are several ways of making up a DIY strainer but if you look you can find them fairly cheaply on the Internet. I brought my strainer and honey bucket (It has a large clog free drain valve for filling jars) brand new from ebay.
Put the strainer over the honey bucket and pour the honey comb mush into the strainer. Cover the remainder of the mush with the bucket lid and let the honey drain through the strainer overnight. You can add more to the strainer as the honey drains through. Make sure you undertake this process in a closed room. You don’t want your house full of bees or wasps for that matter, trying to steal the honey.
I ended up with just over 14lbs of honey from the six combs plus a good saucepan full of bees wax for making polish.
Having only taken three combs from each hive there should be ample stores to see them through the winter. The next harvest will be when they are just starting to build up in the spring. I will then remove any remaining honey left over from their winter stores and give the bees plenty of empty space to expand into again.
Originally posted on my Beekeeping website http://www.topbarbeekeeping.com/