Adventures in Beekeeping: Harvesting Cut-Comb Honey

It’s been unusually quiet around here over the past week, largely because after the last few months both my brain and body basically gave me finger and then peaced out for a while. Which means I spent the last week shuffling through work and chores and my usual routine like a zombie–not quite alive, not quite dead, and making mostly unintelligible noises when anyone tried to start a conversation with me.

The good news is that bees don’t require conversation…

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So, despite being a bit slow this weekend I hauled out my bee gear and harvested about 20 pounds of cut-comb honey from my strong hive.

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For the uninitiated, cut-comb honey is, well, basically just what it sounds like. Honey. In a comb.

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That’s, ah, cut.

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If you’re not familiar with cut-comb honey, yes, you can eat the wax.  I think it’s best smeared on toast or a warm, buttered biscuit, but you can’t go wrong with comb honey with brie on crackers either. So good. (I’m not sure I’d recommend just biting into a chunk of comb honey by itself because you’ll end up chewing endlessly on the wax, but I also hate chewing gum, so…)

As with everything bee-related, I’m learning as I go (and no matter what you do, there’s some beekeeper on the internet telling you vehemently that you’re doing it wrong.)

This year, I used the shake-and-brush method to get the bees off the frame. (Shaking the frame in front of the hive and then using a gentle brush to remove the rest.) The bees didn’t love this (it’s the most agitated I’ve seen them since this fiasco) but they calmed down pretty quickly, and removing this one shallow super of cut-comb frames only took 15 or 20 minutes.

Harvesting all that honey, on the other hand, took the better part of a day…

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But my house smells like honey, and beeswax, and I have a freezer full of comb honey (that will be going to all my friends and family this year… but I might actually sell some next year.)

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I also have one medium super of honey (close to 50 pounds) that I’m hoping to extract next weekend if I can find the right equipment in time…

It won’t be a huge harvest this year because I’m leaving lots of honey for the bees to help them overwinter, but its more than enough for me.

And there will definitely be more honey and more bees on the farm next year!

23 Responses

  1. I’m fascinated by this. Being allergic to bees I don’t think this would be a good idea for me. However I love hearing about it from a safe distance.

  2. That is beautiful and looks delicious! I remember eating comb honey and chewing the wax like gum growing up. We bought ours at the farms where we would go apple picking in NY state in the fall. Such amazing stuff!

  3. I pictured extracting the honey with one of those snot grabber things, and was thinking it would be terribly inefficient. This makes MUCH more sense. I still want to know how you’ll extract the other honey though! 🙂

    1. Oh no, it’s much easier than that. For regular honey you cut the caps off the combs and then put it in a “spinner” and the honey flies out (basically.)

  4. Stupid question- I thought honey was not supposed to be refrigerated…is there a reason you’re doing that?

    Unrelated- id totally buy some. It looks delicious.

    1. Not a stupid question… with cut-comb honey you actually freeze it over night as a part of processing it, and you can store it in the freezer after that.

  5. After hearing for so long how the bees are dying out, it’s so great to hear about people like you starting up their own hives! All of that honey looks amazing!

  6. THis a.m. I had the chance to try the homey comb on Brea toast from your hard work and your amazing bees. What a joy since I remember buying honey this way, years ago, but no more. It is delicious and fun to eat homey this way . Thank you, Kristin, for being so primitive and ambitious. I love it and you. Mamie

  7. This is fantastic Kit, it seems like you will harvest a pretty fair amount this year. So…the bees make the wax and it’s intermingled with the honey and to be pure needs separated in a centrifuge aka spinner. How do you separate the wax from the honey with your type of bee hives and combs. Did you try the smoke em out method and end up using the shake-and-brush method with better success?

  8. In all the free time I have had in the last week I have been reading about your farm adventures over the last few years. I bought my first house this year. Nothing nearly as big as your place. (I live in the suburbs in Adelaide South Australia). I have found Inspiration from your determination and just plain real ness. Thanks for late night readings!

  9. I am so amazed Kit! Such a cool thing to be doing. I have an allergy to bees, but boy would I like to give that a try.

    Some of the farms around mine in Maine have hives, I’ll have to visit and see if they sell cut comb honey.

    p.s. dang your freezer is clean AND organized need a job? LOL

  10. Of all the projects I’ve seen on your blog, this might be the one I am most excited about. And jealous about. So cool. And all that free wax. Yes, so jealous.

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