So...You worked hard at setting up your hives and installing and feeding your bees, and they were very healthy and productive all summer long. You might be able to harvest a little honey the first season, or maybe you'll have to wait until the following year. Whatever the case, harvesting your own honey is very rewarding. Although it requires a bit of work, it's always worth it in the end. If you've ever heard horror stories about harvesting honey, don't worry...they did it wrong. If you study a little and make sure that you're prepared for whatever you might find when you begin the process, you should find that things go smoothly. The obvious question is: When/how often should one harvest honey from a Warré hive? Generally speaking, the answer is once a year...in the late summer or early fall. If you have supered your hives (added a box or boxes to the top) with a sections box or modified (framed) hive body, you can remove those boxes as soon as the frames are filled with honey and that honey is capped. But as for harvesting boxes from a hive that has been managed using only traditional Warré management techniques (adding boxes to the bottom of the hive), don't attempt to harvest too early or you'll run in to big problems. Regardless of how many boxes your hive(s) consists of, there is a high probability that there will still be some brood in every box until at least late summer. This is because during the heavy nectar flow(s), worker bees store honey at the top and on the sides of the brood nest. Because the brood cycle is 19-21 days long, workers can't just put honey wherever they want and force the brood nest to move down rapidly...they must wait for that brood to emerge. Therefore, the brood nest tends to become narrow and elongated, down the center of the hive from top to bottom. This is a natural condition, and please remember that you chose a Warré hive because you want something more natural for your bees. You cannot harvest honey from boxes that still contain brood. As autumn sets in and the temperatures begin to drop, the brood nest will become smaller and concentrated toward the bottom of the hive. That is when you can harvest honey.
Click on the links below to learn everything you need to know about harvesting honey.