Extracting honey from the comb can be as simple or complicated as you make it. While an extractor makes light work of frames, the crush and strain method is still a popular choice with many hobbyist beekeepers.
This article walks new beekeepers through how to crush and strain honey easily. Get started today with everyday kitchen items and this simple process.
Tip: If you want an easier way, take a look at some of the best honey extractors for beginners.
Before you dive in, gather some essential equipment:
- 2x large pots or food-grade plastic buckets.
- Sturdy potato masher or wooden spoon.
- Kitchen sieve.
- Piece of cheesecloth.
- Long serrated knife.
The crush and strain steps
- Prep the collection container: Whether using a bucket or pot, cleaning everything thoroughly before starting is critical.
- Collect the comb: Hold your honey frame over one of the containers and use a long serrated knife to delicately cut out the wax comb.
- Crush the comb: Begin squeezing and crushing the comb into a bucket or pot. Then use a wooden spoon or potato masher to gently crush the comb until all the cells are broken up.
- Set up the sieve: Place the sieve/strainer over a second large container and layer it with cheesecloth to keep the little bits of wax, bee parts, and foreign objects out.
- Cover the honey: Once all the honeycombs have been crushed and the straining process initiated, cover the holding vessel with a large plastic bag or towel.
- Strain the liquid: Allow the honey to strain for 24-48 hours until all the liquid honey has seeped out of the crushed comb.
- Allow to sit: All the honey to sit for two days, giving it time to settle and reduce air bubbles.
- Pour into jars: Transfer the strained honey into jars. Expect roughly a quart jar of honey from a medium frame. So have at least 12 jars on hand if you’re extracting ten frames.
Interesting reading: What are some alternatives to buying an extractor.
Handy tips for mastering the crush and strain method
- Crushing and straining is a simple technique to extract honey from comb. Make your process smoother and more efficient with these practical tips:
- Choose a warm day for faster processing, as honey flows quicker when the ambient room temperature is higher.
- Choose a food-grade plastic bucket suitable for your harvesting volume. A 1-5 gallon capacity is usually sufficient for smaller bee yards.
- Harvest honey away from your hives, or the bees will soon spread the word, and you’ll have a lot of bees to compete with.
- Once finished, leave honey-coated tools near the hive for a quick cleanup.
- As the honey strains, cover it with a clean towel or cloth. This step prevents dust and other airborne matter from contaminating the freshly strained honey.
- Straining honey requires patience, so be prepared to let the honey strain for at least 24 hours.
- Clean all equipment thoroughly before starting to avoid tainting the honey’s flavor.
- Keep spare jars on hand in case your frames yield more honey than expected.
Commonly asked questions
Can I use honey that’s uncapped?
Uncapped honey still has excess moisture content as it hasn’t had time to mature fully. You can pour this honey through a sieve and then keep it in a separate jar. Consume this batch first, as it is more likely to ferment over time.
Can I use the crush and strain method if I have many hives?
The crush and strain method is time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially as the number of honey supers increases. Some beekeepers don’t mind the extra work, but growing apiaries will benefit from an extractor.
What’s the best way to clean up after crushing and straining honey?
Rinse any equipment with warm water and mild soap. For any stubborn honey residue, soaking the equipment in warm water for a bit can help. Always rinse tools and honey containers thoroughly with water, as soap residue can taint the honey.
Is the crush and strain method harmful to the bees?
Crushing honeycomb doesn’t harm the bees but requires them to rebuild the destroyed comb. This work involves a lot of effort to rebuild and impacts hive productivity.
Can I reuse beeswax after crushing the comb?
Beeswax has many uses, from candles and cosmetics to waxing thread and making furniture polish. It’s a valuable beekeeping resource that is well worth keeping.
Can I use the crush and strain method for all hive types?
The crush and strain method suits any hive design, including Langstroths, Warres, and Top Bars.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to read our guide on what is a honey extractor.