Removing honey supers

Obviously, before you can begin processing the honey from the modified hive bodies or sections boxes that you’ve used as supers, you'll have to get them off of the hives and away from the bees. It's important to remember that your bees are likely to be their most defensive at harvest time, since "stealing" their honey gives them good reason for being that way. Be sure to gear up fully and get your smoker lit really well before heading out to your hives.

I highly recommend harvesting only one box at a time, regardless of how many hives you have. One per day is work enough, and opening only one hive at a time greatly reduces the possibility of robbing. The first thing you'll need to do is get those thousands of bees out of the box that you want to take; and for that you'll use your bee escape board. Install the bee escape board around the noon hour on a nice day and be sure that the forecast calls for nice weather the following day as well, since you'll finish removing the honey 24 hours later.

Begin by smoking the bees through the hive entrance and/or the screened bottom. Smoke them only enough to get their attention; one or two puffs is plenty. You don't want to drive the bees up into the top of the hive. Next, remove the roof and quilt from the top of the hive, pull the window screen back slightly at one end of the frames and blow a few puffs of smoke down into the super. Smoke enough to drive some of the bees out of the super and down into the hive. It's not necessary to remove the window screen at this time. Next, use your hive tool to break the propolis seal and remove the super from the hive. Set the box on its side (with the frames always vertical) on a piece of wood on the ground, the hive roof, a cement block, etc. Next, simply place your bee escape board on top of the hive with the screen facing down. Then, place the super to be harvested on top of the bee escape board. Reinstall the quilt and roof and you're done for the day.

Once you’re ready to remove the honey and carry it away (24 hours after installing the bee escape board), you'll need to work and move as quickly as possible. After removing a super, set the quilt back on the hive (on top of the bee escape board) and high-tail it out of there with your honey.

IMPORTANT: Do not remove the bee escape board until the honey super has been taken away and stored where no bees can get to it. Removing the bee escape board will release thousands of bees that will follow you!

Most of you will be processing the honey in your kitchen, so when you bring a box of honey up to the house, work near a door to the house and use either a leaf blower or a blowgun connected to an air compressor in order to blow any remaining bees from the box. If you're going to use the latter, using an "OSHA approved" blowgun will help to prevent damaging the combs. Once you've blown out what appears to be all of the remaining bees, quickly take the box into the house. There are bound to be a few bees still hiding in the box when you go inside. Don't worry about it. Simply place the box near a window. As any remaining bees exit the box with their belly-full of honey and are wanting to go home, they'll gather on the window. Once they're all gathered there, open the window and remove the screen to let them out.

Once your honey is in the house safe and sound, remove the bee escape board from the hive, shake the bees out of it, use your hive tool to remove excessive wax and/or propolis from the top bars of the top box and then put the hive back together. Don’t forget to put the screen back under the quilt. It's now time to begin processing your honey! Refer to Harvesting from modified hive bodies and/or Harvesting from sections boxes for specific instructions on processing honey from each type of super.