Thursday, September 3, 2015

Poor Mans Comb Honey by Beekeeper Fred

Prior to the invention of the extractor most honey was sold in the comb.  Lately comb honey has had a resurgence in popularity.  A 4" by 4" square of comb honey sells from $10 to $15 each.  The square weighs approximately 1 pound, so the seller gets a premium price for his honey over the selling price for extracted honey.

Being frugal (or cheap) I was looking for ways to make comb honey without having to by the special kits sold by the big bee equipment suppliers.  Comb honey can be cut from the combs removed from top bar hives.  Or my alternate method was to let the bees draw out comb in regular Langstroth hives.  To do this I put a wax starter strip in a 6 5/8 inch super frame. The starter strip is approximately 1/2 inch wide so that it will extend out approximately 1/4 inch into the open frame.    (Don't use wire re-enforced foundation.) I locked the starter strip in place with melted wax. You do not want to use a full width piece of foundation for two reasons.  1) Foundation is made from recycled wax and may contain undesirable contaminants, which is probably not good to eat.  2) The foundation is thicker and tougher than foundation that the bees will draw out.

The bees will naturally draw out comb and fill it with honey.  The distance from the bottom of the starter strip to the frame's bottom bar is just wide enough to cut a 4 inch wide chunk of comb honey.  The frame is long enough to allow harvesting of four (4) sections of square comb.

I mark the frames with the comb honey starter strips so I can locate them after they have been filled.  Otherwise they look just like a regular filled frame.  I also wait to insert them into the hive until the first super is filled with honey.  I then move two of the full frames to another super and insert two of the "comb honey" frames in their place.
                                          Frame marked to help identify it at season's end

Frame ready for cutting
Position cutter at edge of starter strip
Removed comb honey section

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