comb honey

The finer things in life


Comb honey for sale. Photo © Anneke Davis

Vintage wine, aged cheese, and comb honey . . . what more could you ask for? Although it might break the bank, all that luxury can be found at your local Safeway Supermarket. My daughter found this display on Thanksgiving weekend in a Kirkland, Washington store. From the photo, I can’t tell how big the chunks are, but I’m guessing they probably average about 12 ounces.

For those of you interested in producing gold in a box, I am planning an entire series on comb honey production, including selection of equipment, raising the bees, and marketing the product. I plan to cover square and round sections, cut comb, and chunk honey. Most importantly, I will explain how I get my bees to do this exacting work.

Now is a good time to buy your equipment and get it ready for spring. Remember, the winter solstice—the real beginning of bee season—is only eighteen days away.



    • Chris,

      The hours of daylight are shortest on the winter solstice. As the amount of daylight per day begins to increase (okay, technically this occurs on the day after the solstice) the queen begins to lay more eggs and the colony increases in size in preparation for spring. The response to increased day length is slow at first, but it gradually builds momentum. The colony basically stays in growth mode from the winter solstice until the summer solstice, which occurs around June 22. Then, as day length decreases, egg laying also decreases. Many animals and plants respond to photoperiod, and bees are no exception.

  • Holy cow, my bees are out flying today gathering nectar and the occasional load of pollen.
    Do bees in the south start building up after the solstice as well? I am pretty sure I saw some of them doing orientation flights earlier today.

    I keep hearing about this alleged comb honey series. ; )

    • Robert,

      I was wondering where you were and I was wondering about your chimney bees. They are so cool. Anyway, if by south you mean southern U.S., then the answer is yes. If you mean south like Kiwiland, then the answer is also yes, but six months later (because the southern hemisphere is opposite our schedule).

      But you guys in the southern U.S. are a lot warmer and probably run larger colonies and larger nests all year long than we do up here.

      About the alleged comb honey series: you are one of many bugging me. But I’m beginning to get ready for comb honey season myself, so I figured I will write about what I do as I do it. That way, I won’t forget stuff. Bugging, I suppose, works on some level. Don’t tell anyone.

  • I look forward to the ‘comb honey’ series. I was able to produce (o.k., the girls did) some ‘comb’ using just some of the top bars of a lang frame this summer. My wife and I found that the earlier produced comb was the best. The later in the year, the tougher or thicker the wax. Still good but not as delicate. Some of it was Linden honey, it tasted like the Linden flowers smell, GOOD!
    Willow Creek Honey

  • I have been wanting to do the section super but the cost has so far deterred me. After reading your post above and then re-reading the ones you had posted before I started searching the internet for alternatives, I only found one but I think I am going to give it a try. He makes his own squares that fit in a standard western frame, just cut thin strips of wood, soak them in water and bend them around a block of wood. What are your thoughts on this? So far I have just been sharing the honey I have collected with friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. so I want to be as economical as possible but like the idea of a more neat package of comb to share.

    I look forward to your series.

    • Toby,

      I’ve heard about the Romanov sections but haven’t tried them. I have a lot to say about the egregious prices charged for comb honey equipment, and I think alternatives are badly needed. If the series goes well, I’ll see about including Romanov. Please let me know how it goes.

  • I look forward to seeing it.

    While we were up in Nantahala, NC this past summer I got to see another type of miner bee. I was unable to get pictures of their nests because of the location. When it rained they would come out and drink the water off the leaves of the trees near the cabin. They were very fun to watch. I expect I will see them again this summer. Maybe I can get some pictures this time.

  • I read through and enjoyed your entire comb honey series once, and most of it twice. I think I’ll read through it again this summer, if my bees give me a good excuse by making surplus honey this year. By the way, in this post you mention that you were going to write about marketing it. I’d be interested if you did.

    Another by-the-way: yesterday was the second time that I have come across someone eating old brood comb as comb honey and saying it tastes good. Have you ever tried that, or known someone who has? I am intrigued by the description of the flavor as “nuttier and more complex” than fresh comb. What do you think? The idea of eating larval poop put me off at first, but it’s not like they share intestinal parasites with people.

    • Sean,

      I like the thinnest cell walls possible, so you don’t get the “chewing gum” sensation. First-year comb, built fast during a nectar flow, is ethereal. To me, that is the best comb honey.

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