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Warré Beekeeping
Extracting Honey From Warré Hive Combs

Warré combs will usually be all or partly used for brood. The boundary between the honey only area at the top and the brood area below is usually sufficiently clear to enable the top part to be cut out and used as cut comb honey. Cut comb honey can be consumed directly without having to cope with a mouthful of cocoons. If consumed directly, any wax can be spat out or swallowed.

The photo below shows a comb partly filled with honey. The red arrow points to a small area suitable for cut comb.

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Below: example of a Warré comb supported by Langstroth frame parts cut down to fit a Warré and with the bottom rails omitted. It shows comb containing entirely honey and suitable for cut comb (Photo: Margie Schwartz).

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For the rest of the comb that is unusable as cut comb, the honey usually has to be extracted somehow. It is sometimes stated that the less processing it undergoes during extraction the better is the retention of the bouquet of flavours of the original honey. Accordingly, simply squeezing the honey slowly out the comb, usually with a press, or letting the honey drain through a sieve after cutting open the cells are the next best options short of having cut comb on your plate.

Here is a video in French of Olivier Duprez demonstrating extracting honey from a Warré box: http://youtu.be/KeLSfDzuaL8 .

Pressing is described on a separate page. Here we give some suggestions for extraction by cutting or crushing and draining. For some, the challenge will be scaling-up the draining method to take at least all the comb from a full box of honey, which could weigh over 18 kg. For others, the ordinary utensils available in the kitchen will suffice.

1. Dav Croteau's crush and drain method

Take 2-five gallon buckets with 2-covers. In one cover cut out a center hole leaving an inch or so lip on which to to set the top bucket (red). The top bucket gets 1/4" (6 mm) holes drilled in the bottom about an inch (25 mm) apart.

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The bottom bucket (white) has a honey valve in the bottom. (In this photo the bucket still has a bit of granulated honey at the bottom.)

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Put a five gallon mesh bag in the top bucket and add the crushed comb.

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Cover and let drain for a few days.

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Putting the buckets in the greenhouse to drain where it is warm/hot speeds the flow. Setting them in the sun during the day would speed things up.

The drained comb is pressed free of any trapped honey using an Enterprise sausage stuffer as illustrated on the presses page.

 

2. David Heaf's cut and drain method

As there is sometimes pollen present under capped honey in the comb and too much maceration of the comb could release the pollen, causing a turbid product, one option is to cut the comb with a sharp knife. This releases very little pollen into the honey.

Full details of this method are given on David Heaf's website. As with Dav Croteau's method, the comb fragments are squeezed free of residual honey in a press.

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