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Harvesting and Canning Honey: the Crush and Strain Method

Introduction: Harvesting and Canning Honey: the Crush and Strain Method

Sometimes your bees do well all year round producing honey and keeping their hive clean and tidy and then the worst winter in many years happens and they all die with a lot of honey in the hive because it gets cold and stays cold for several weeks without any warmup at all. Sometimes.

This allowed me to do something you would normally never do; harvest all of the honey from the hive. Usually you want to harvest only a little of the honey so that the bees always have a healthy supply to make it through hungry and cold times.

What you will want to have:

Sturdy Wooden Spoon or other Smooshing Implement

Sanitized Canning Jars and Lids (a run through a hot modern dishwasher should be good for this application)

Jelly Straining Bag and Stand

Step 1: Be Good to Your Bees

Even when you give them good care, proximity and access to good water and tons of pesticide-free flowers, your bee hive can fail in the middle of the winter.

I have a great Kenyan style top-bar hive that a friend who keeps over a dozen hives made for me (his fared no better this winter, he lost 60% of his hives to the cold as well) and even with thick cedar walls and an excellent roof, the bees had a tough time.

Step 2: Remove Comb From the Frames

After you have had a pleasantly somber eulogy for your bees, it is time to clean out the hive of anything that could attract pests or mold. So sweep out the dead insects, clear out the frames filled with wax and pollen and (now dead) brood. The honey harvest from a top-bar hive is quite easy, but unfortunately means the wax will probably be crushed in the process (there are ways to keep this from happening, but I needed to clean it out to keep away wax moths anyway).

Step 3: Smoosh It Up

Once the full honeycomb has been sliced away from the top bar, or frame, into a bowl- you get to smoosh it up!

You can start breaking the chunks of comb up with your hands or use a large wooden spoon, meat tenderizing hammer or potato masher. Quite simple, but sticky process at this point.

Step 4: Filtering the Honey

Setting up your jelly filter stand over a large shallow bowl or plate (to catch any drips) and place your first jar with a wide-mouth funnel underneath.

Scoop as much broken comb into your jelly filter bag in the stand as you can safely fit without making even more of a sticky mess (don’t worry, there will be stickyness in any honey processing, it happens).

Put it in the sun to maybe heat up the honey so it drips through faster.

Remember to look at the jar!

Switch it out with another jar quick!

Step 5: Put a Lid on It

Canning honey is the easiest canning you will ever do.

Honey is an amazing food in that it is dry enough (has a low water content) and sweet enough (has so much natural sugar) that most molds and bacteria that are harmful to humans or cause spoilage cannot survive in it. This means that if you have a sanitized jar and lid, you are totally good to pour honey into it and cap it off.

There are, however, things present in raw honey that make it very dangerous for babies, do not feed honey to children under the age of 1. Once a child has reached 12 months old, their stomach lining is sturdy enough to pass these potentially harmful presences out without any problem.

Put the clean and dry seal top and screw lid onto the jar, label it and put it somewhere cool and dark.

Raw (unheated) honey like this will likely crystallize at some point, this does nothing to the delicious taste, only the texture. If you want, you can heat the sealed jar in a bowl full of warm water to liquefy the honey again if this occurs.

Harvesting and Canning Honey: the Crush and Strain Method: Sometimes your bees do well all year round producing honey and keeping their hive clean and tidy and then the worst winter in many years happens and they all die with a lot of honey in the hive because it gets cold and stays cold for several weeks w…

Mud Songs

For backyard beekeepers on the Isle of Newfoundland. 47°42’34.2″N 52°42’49.9″W #NLbeekeeping

Category Archives: Crushed & Strained Honey

Crushing Comb & Cleaning The Beeswax

I often make crushed & strained silky liquid honey and let the bees clean up the crushed comb afterwards. Digging through my archives, I found some footage that shows how I do it.

I talk about all kinds of things in this video, most of which would take up too much space to reiterate here. But here’s basic rundown of the whole thing:
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Crushed & Strained Silky Honey

The best liquid honey in my book is the stuff that’s been filtered through beeswax like I do in this video. It might look gross, but it’s exquisite.

Crush and Strain Honey: The 3-Bucket Method

Something To Keep In Mind: Plastic buckets from the hardware store contain BFA, a substance that is generally not good for humans. I doubt much BFA would get into the honey in this process because the honey isn’t stored in the plastic. It mostly just passes through the plastic funnels and sits in the plastic bucket for less than a day. But still, stainless steel or food-grade plastic buckets are preferable. Honey meant for public consumption should not come in contact with non-food-grade plastic.

I recently crushed and strained about 6 litres of liquid honey (about 1.6 US gallons) from a medium honey super. I followed what some called the 3-bucket method (a method I stole from the Backwards Beekeepers), which I’ve demonstrated before, except I didn’t do it properly the first time. This time I did it right and it worked perfectly. The process is explained with labelled photos below. Basically you pour the crushed comb honey into a bucket with holes it, which drains into a bucket with a paint strainer on it. Then you bottle your honey.

Honey with crushed comb dripping from top bucket (bucket #1) into a bucket with holes (bucket #2), then straining into a bottom bucket (bucket#3). (Oct. 07, 2014.)

This probably isn’t a bad method for hobbyist beekeepers with a small number of hives. Comb honey is the best, but for liquid honey, crush-and-strained in my experience tastes and feels better than extracted honey. The fact that the honey strains through the beeswax, much of flavour of the wax — which is a huge component of natural honey — isn’t lost like it would be with extracted honey.

July 25th, 2015: I also posted a video called Cutting and Bottling Honey that’s had over 4 million views even though it shows me making a few mistakes in the 3-bucket method.
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Cut Comb & Bottled Honey

Here’s a narrated video of me harvesting five foundationless frames of honey. I cut out 28 small squares of honey comb from a little over 1 and a half frames. I crushed and strained the rest of it and bottled it the next day.

I meant to strain the crushed comb using the 3-bucket system that requires a paint strainer, but I put the paint strainer on the wrong bucket (the paint strainer goes on the bottom bucket), so I had to improvise a bit. That mistake cost me some honey, but it wasn’t too drastic.
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Mud Songs For backyard beekeepers on the Isle of Newfoundland. 47°42’34.2″N 52°42’49.9″W #NLbeekeeping Category Archives: Crushed & Strained Honey Crushing Comb & Cleaning The Beeswax I