Using beehive technology improves honey quality. For example, modern bee hives like Kenya top bar hive and Langstroth hives whose combs can be lifted from the hive and replaced. This allows a beekeeper to examine the condition of the colony without harming it.
Remove honeycombs from the hive to harvest without disturbing combs containing brood. The colony will not be harmed and the bees can continue gathering honey to replace what has been harvested. This ensures only good quality honey is harvested, free of pollen or brood contamination.
Quality Honey Harvesting and Processing Methods
Beehive technology improves honey quality using management, harvesting and processing techniques that will influence the final quality of honey. Harvest honey by cutting the combs and put them in a container. Do not blow smoke directly on the honeycombs when harvesting. Use a smoker to blow small amounts of smoke far away from the frames of honeycombs. Follow these procedures in order to avoid the smell of smoke getting into honey and beeswax.
Do not expose the frames of honeycombs after harvesting. Exposure to high temperatures and the sun for long periods can lead to increased hydroxymethylfurfural content (HMF) in the honey. This will reduce content of the main enzymes in honey (invertase, glucose oxidase and diastase) and compromise honey quality.
There are many methods of separating bees from their honey combs. Firstly, take honeycombs out one at a time and remove bees by gently shaking and brushing. After, place a queen excluder or special board with a one-way bee escape below the honey super. One deep super, or two shallow supers can be cleared in 24 hours if enough space is available below. Do not use this method if colonies are sitting unprotected in the sun. The combs will melt in the now non-ventilated supers.
These three methods will NOT contaminate the harvested honey:
- Equipment used to process honey should be for this purpose only. Keep them clean to avoid contamination of the honey.
- Using chemicals with unpleasant smell to drive bees away is a technique that is preferred by many beekeepers because it is quick and easy. However, this is illegal in many countries. They leave unpleasant flavors and odors. They are toxic and get absorbed by wax and honey.
- Do not place the honeycombs directly on the ground to avoid contamination.
Processing Quality Honey.
- Farmers should process honey immediately after removal from the hive.
- Honey processing is a sticky operation. It requires time and patience to achieve the best results.
- Carefully protect honey against contamination by ants and flying insects at all stages of processing.
- Honey is food, therefore, handle it hygienically, and all equipment must be perfectly clean.
- Honey is hygroscopic and will absorb moisture. Keep all honey processing equipment perfectly dry. Excess water in honey causes it to ferment.