How To Harvest Wild Honey From A Beehive

Ever wonder what pure, fresh honey tastes like, straight from the hive?  The stuff found on grocery store shelves is tasty, but what about the real deal?

If you ever find yourself in the wild and in the presence of a beehive, you might want to grab some of that honey for yourself.  Unfortunately, the bees will not allow you to take it that easily.

Here are 7 steps (and some tips/warnings) to help you make sure you can get away with some of their sweet-tasting, fresh honey.

Step 1

Make sure what you’re heading towards is actually a beehive.  Many insects “buzz” but that doesn’t mean they make honey.  Wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and even some solitary species of bees all sound alike but do not make any honey.  Check that you’re chasing honey bees, or all you’ll get is some extremely painful souvenirs.

Step 2

Follow the bees back to their hive.  When you come to a location, such as a log or tree, where a lot of bees are coming and going from, then you’ve probably found their hive.

Step 3

Find some plants or wood and burn what you find so that you make smoke.  A great choice is pine needles.

Step 4

Put the smoking material into a container that you can carry and take it to the hive.  Waft smoke into the hole.  This will cause the bees to believe there is a fire and, due to their fear for their honey, they gorge themselves on the uncapped honey.  This makes them less likely to fly around and sting you.

Step 5

Cut a piece of the honey comb with a sharp knife, slowly and carefully.  Only take a piece, not the whole hive, and avoid getting a comb with larvae.

Step 6

Try to find the queen bee.  She will be bigger than the other bees and probably will not fly.  She may also have a greenish-blue spot on her back.  Do not mess with her, because the other bees will try to stick around her and will defend her.

Step 7

Now that you have your honeycomb, move away from the hive and leave the bees alone.

Sounds simple, right?  It’s harder than it looks, mostly due to the intimidation the bees will have over you.  If you’re desperate, however, this won’t matter at all.  Here are some tips on collecting this wild honey:

  • know how to tell the difference between honeybees and other kinds of insects
  • if you want honey, resign yourself to a few stings – if you do this right, you’ll get away without the whole hive turning on you, but you may still get stung a little bit
  • processing comb into honey and wax is a different process than getting the comb from the hive – you can get some honey by letting the comb rest in a dish for a few hours and letting the honey ooze out, but some will stick to the comb
  • always move slowly and gently around the bees, they can sense anxiety and it might cause them to attack
  • the bees will follow you, so be ready for that
  • the honeycomb may contain bee larvae, which are full of protein, so they’re okay to eat
  • if a swarm of honeybees has moved onto your own property and you want to get rid of them, call a local apiary and tell them you have a free swarm they can take
  • honey bees can be identified as “not wasps” because they will generally have hairy bodies

Here are a few warnings concerning this:

  • differentiate between killer-bees and bees
  • do not try this if you are allergic to insect venom –  a life-threatening immune reaction is not worth a few ounces of honey
  • if you are stung many times you can die even if you are not allergic to bees, so be very careful
  • never attempt this without wearing a protective veil, any bee stings to the head are dangerous and very painful, the face is vulnerable and usually the first target when bees become upset