As a beginning beekeeper you are unlikely to have an extractor. If you don’t know what that is, it is a steel drum that allows frames to be placed in sleeves inside, and then centrifugal force is used to spin the honey out of the honeycomb inside the frames. The honey collects on the sides and flows down to the bottom where a spigot can be opened, and honey drained into a collection bucket. It is efficient, and the most efficient harvesting tool. It is a great method, but you may not have access to one at this point, as they can run anywhere from $100 upwards to purchase. Perhaps someday you will have on available to use, either in a sharing program with others in a bee club, or your own tool that you purchased, but thankfully, there is another way to harvest your honey as you get started!
The goal is to get the honey out of the wax honeycombs. This can be done by crushing them and pouring the honey and beeswax through filters to give you the end result of wonderful tasty honey. It takes time and the crushed honeycomb needs to be allowed to drip and release all of the honey. A great by product is the beeswax itself that you harvest as part of this process. It will take significant work to clean your filters of the beeswax and allow the honey to drain, but it is a great way to get your product. Some people like their honey with bits of wax so choose to not filter further, but others want just pure clear honey, so you would want to run it through successive filters until you get your desired purity.
As you prepare for this process, you will want to collect your supplies. It is fairly simple in this process. You will need a bucket to collect your honey into, filters – which can be as simple as cheesecloth or wire strainers, a hot knife – or also called an uncapping knife – would be needed though a fork could also be used, and a pan to mash the honeycomb up in. Some people report that they use a cookie sheet, but experiment to see what you are most comfortable with. You can find these at any beekeeping supplier quite easily. Some items you certainly already have in your home.
You will want to plan ahead and have all your needed supplies laid out before you start your work. You will want to cut the comb right out of the frame into your collection pot or cookie sheet. Next you will crush the honeycomb in whatever way seems to work for you. Kitchen tools like spatulas will work, your hands or whatever makes the most sense to you for your task and setup. There is honey in each wax cell in the honeycomb so you will want to be sure to crush them all and release the honey. You will pour the honey through your filters now to get the beeswax and give yourself the desired honey. It will take time for the honey to flow through the filters so be sure to allow time for all the honey to drain. Most people find that this is a good time to cut out more honeycomb and crush it also. Take a look at this video below of how it can all be strained to release the honey..
As you start out, you may find that you have more time than money, so the cost to purchase an extractor is less desirable. The crushing versus extractor methods really are a balancing act of time and money. You will spend more time using the crushing method and will have to supply replacement beeswax for your bees. As you do more with your bees and honey production, generally, your time expenditure will outweigh the cost of an extractor, so most beekeepers eventually find a way to purchase or rent or borrow an extractor. Especially for the beginner, the crushing method will do the trick and get your the desired result: delicious harvested honey!