Cut Comb & Bottled Honey

Here’s a narrated video of me harvesting five foundationless frames of honey. I cut out 28 small squares of honey comb from a little over 1 and a half frames. I crushed and strained the rest of it and bottled it the next day.

I meant to strain the crushed comb using the 3-bucket system that requires a paint strainer, but I put the paint strainer on the wrong bucket (the paint strainer goes on the bottom bucket), so I had to improvise a bit. That mistake cost me some honey, but it wasn’t too drastic.

Here are some photos, starting with cutting the comb from the frame:

Cutting comb from frame. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

A close up on said honey comb:

Raw honey comb removed from foundationless frame. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

Cutting the comb into squares:

Cutting the comb into 18 squares. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

Close up on packaged cut comb:

Packaged cut comb. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

Most of this I’m keeping for myself. Little bricks of gold:

Packaged cut comb. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

Another full comb of honey removed from a frame (I crushed and strained about four and a third frames):

Raw honey comb removed from a frame. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

Raw comb ready to be crushed with a potato masher:

Comb ready to be crushed and strained. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

Pouring the crushed comb into the straining bucket:

Pouring crushed comb into straining bucket. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

The crushed comb in the straining bucket:

Crushed comb in straining bucket. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

I bought the paint buckets at Home Depot, by the way, for about $7 each. The funnels came from Canadian Tire in the automotive section for a couple dollars each. The 5 gallon paint strainer came from Templeton’s paint store on Water Street in St. John’s for 3 or 4 dollars. The paint strainer can be rinsed and reused. Anyway, this is where I made my mistake.

The paint strainer was supposed to go in the bottom bucket. So we improvised using a stick. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

The top bucket has holes drilled in the bottom. The crushed comb should be poured directly into this bucket that sits on top of another bucket — the bottom bucket — which has a lid on top of it with a big circle cut out of the middle. That lid with the big hole cut in the middle simply provides a base for the top bucket to sit on. Anyway, the paint strainer goes inside the bottom bucket. For anyone trying this at home, just make sure it doesn’t sag all the way down to the bottom of the bucket. Otherwise, it’ll just sit there in a pool of honey and not make it through the strainer, which is what happened when I put the strainer in the top bucket. I subsequently had to improvise with a stick to suspend the crushed comb so it would drain properly. I let it drain overnight:

Let strain overnight. (Sept. 25, 2011.)

The next day I used a simple ladle to pour the honey into funnels which then drained into my Mason jars:

Funnels used to pouring the honey. We won’t bother with this again. (Sept. 29, 2011.)

About a week later when I bottled my batch of extracted honey, I poured the honey from the bucket into juice jugs (or pitchers), and then simply poured the honey from the pitchers into the jars. It was easier and less messy than the funnel method. I doubt I’ll ever do this again, anyway. Next time I’ll install a honey gate on the bucket and be done with it.

The last of our foundationless honey. (Sept. 29, 2011.)

Postscript: Please note that this is the poor man’s version of crush and strained honey. Plastic buckets from the hardware store contain BFA, a substance that is generally not good for humans. I doubt much BFA would get into the honey in this process because the honey isn’t stored in the plastic. It mostly just passes through the plastic funnels and sits in the plastic bucket for less than a day. But still, stainless steel or food-grade plastic buckets are preferable. Honey meant for public consumption should not come in contact with non-food-grade plastic.

21 thoughts on “Cut Comb & Bottled Honey

  1. Looks absolutely wonderful! I’t so nice to see something like this so close to home (I am from Gander). I have been reading your blog for the last four hours, I find it so interesting and I hope you keep it up! You have inspirired me to try bee keeping someday myself!

  2. Sam,

    Drop out to Clarenville sometime if you want to see bees before commiting. I have 7 colonies.

  3. I’d take Jeff up on his offer too. I think it’s easy to idealize beekeeping. It’s not all harmony and bliss and communing with nature. Seeing what it’s like up close and personal brings it down to earth.

    Jeff and I were lucky enough and knowledgeable enough to get through this summer relatively unscathed. But for some of the things we had to deal with — especially some of the crazy things that happened with Jeff’s colonies — if we hadn’t done our homework and hadn’t been properly prepared, man, it could have been disastrous.

    Just about every move we make with the bees can have profound consequences. That’s something I became acutely aware of almost immediately. I also realized that to properly take care of the bees, you to do your homework and constantly keep learning. At least during these early years, it’s one thing after another, learning what not to do, learning how to improve on certain things, etc. It’s a bit of a slog, but it’s a rewarding slog.

    • I know everything isn’t always what it looks like and I do think I would like to try SOMEDAY but when I don’t know. I plan on doing a lot more research and perhaps try it when I own my OWN house and are not renting.

      Jeff I would also like to see your hives perhaps sometime. I don’t know when but I would like it for the learning experience either way!

      • Sam, I didn’t mean to suggest you were idealizing beekeeping. I was more or less speaking in general terms. I’ve recently had a few people talk to me about starting up a hive or two who seemed to think they could put the bees in a box and forget about them by “letting the bees be bees.” I was just throwing out a slight word of caution to generally discourage that kind of thinking, because letting the bees be bees in Newfoundland would most likely lead to a bunch of dead bees. I wasn’t necessarily aiming it at you.

        • Oh no that’s totally understandable. I wasn’t offended in any way I really just thought it was a note of warning suggesting exactly what you had just said. Most thinks are like that here because of our awfully unpredictable weather patterns and our cold snowy winters.

          I also find it rather shocking that people actually think you can just “bees in a box and forget about them by “letting the bees be bees.”” as you said. That’s like farming cows and throwing them all out on a random field and just let “cows be cows”. It’s kind of a silly notion.

  4. Hello newbee (pun intended ;-)

    In your video, I hear you say that in order to prevent the honey from cristalizing, you can heat is up. But you won’t do it because of the loss of enzymes and other good stuff.

    Well… when I heard you say that first sentence, I freaked. Heating honey up to preserve it?!?!?!??? Factory sugar added fake honey: yes, but not never ever the real stuff like you have there!

    In order to NOT have it cristalize, you keep it in your bucket for about five days and stir it (firmly)about three times a day.
    Depending on the amount of sugar in it (depending on the ‘source’ the bees used), it will take a day extra or less. The only way to find out is by experience.

    It you do it this way, you’ll keep the clarity of your honey AND it will be “smearable” on your sandwich. Not the cristalized bugger that you need a cleaver with to cut pieces from.

    I hope this helps…
    Keep up the bees! You’re doing a great job!

    Greetings from a fellow ‘imker’ in Belgium.


    • Thanks Marc. I have no intention of ever heating our honey, but I know it’s a common practice to heat honey before bottling so it will stay in a liquid state for a longer period of time.

      I didn’t know that stirring the honey as you described has the same effect. Are you sure? I have my doubts.

  5. Hey Philip,

    Actually, honey will start its crystallization process as soon as it comes in touch with air and it takes 6 weeks to 4 days to become “hard”. This time ratio depends on the percentages of glucose and fructose. The more glucose, the faster the crystallization.
    Stirring the honey, will prevend that crystal-cores (I don’t know how else to call them) can “seed”. For some people, crystallization is required and they start up a ‘guided’ process.
    You can read more about that here:
    (You can translate through Google:

    Back to prevention. Even big brands say there’s nothing wrong with crystallization, but they do recommend stirring for a few days: (translation:

    Believe me, stirring is as old as the profession itself ;-)
    It works.



  6. I just wanted to say that I loved your video (I found on YT). I thought it was a very sensible and simple description of your honey bottling process. It made me want to get a bee hive (I won’t, though). Thank you for sharing.

  7. I just found a ball of bees in the yard and I actually mowed over them not knowing they were there…they stayed in the grass for about 4 days and I got worried about them and called a friend that knew a bee man..he told me what to do and now I have them in a house with a steady supply of sugar water..they built a cone in the box in three days…we were surprised they stayed and made it…I will be feeding them through the winter but hopefully next spring they won’t need so much help…if all goes well I hope to have some honey in the future too and I love your idea of how to get it from hive to jar…thank you…I am located in Tennessee and we have lots of blooming trees and natural fresh water

  8. i am becoming interested in bee keeping… I like your set up more than the commercialized methods… I have simple questions like how many bees does it take to make your 14 pound collection, do you make a sugar mixture for them to feed on, or is that completely natural, where do you get bees, how long does it take for them to make that much honey, and what happens during the winter?

  9. what do you do with the little bricks of comb & honey in the little plastic containers ?

  10. Hi Guys

    Using a 2 bucket strainer, with the paint strainer in the top bucket, works great when a wood block is placed in the bottom of the top bucket below the paint strainer. This permits most of the strainer to function rather than plugging up when pushed against the smaller holes drilled in the bottom of the bucket. Like this one:

    I’ve processed thousands of pounds of honey this way. And found it to be easy and efficient with little waste.

    The bottom bucket can be fitted with a cheap plastic honey gate. Or better yet, put one in a bucket lid. Then honey can be bottled right from the strainer bucket after it has set a day or two allowing any foam to rise.


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