Top Bar TJ’s Mad-Mad Honey Harvesting Method

4 Aug

TJ's honey filtration system for a top bar hive

Albuquerque bee-man TJ Carr is endlessly engineering new tools and methods to ease the plight of top-bar beekeepers like myself. His latest nugget of beekeeping wisdom is a gravity-filtration system for honey harvesting from top bar hives.

This weekend, I tried it for myself. With a filtration system dependent totally on gravity and 24 lazy hours, let’s just say it fit right into my schedule.

Gravity Honey Filtering

Gravity Honey Filtering

Wanna try it for yourself? Here are some more details to get you started.

Get 3 food-grade five gallon buckets and set ’em up as follows:

  • Bucket #1 has a closed bottom with a honey gate installed.
  • Bucket #2 has an open top and a mesh or sieve bottom. Inside Bucket #2 is a fine mesh bag with edges secured around the end of the bucket with say, a giant rubberband or tape. Resting inside the mesh bag and on the edges of the bucket is a colander. Check the trusty diagram if you’re lost now.
  • Bucket #3 has an open top and a closed bottom with a honey gate installed.

Build a wooden stand where the top has an opening cut for Bucket #1 to rest tilted forward. Or… just put Bucket #1 on a bookshelf or table where it might easily drain into Buckets #2 and #3.

Then, set everything up as shown in the honey harvesting diagram.

  1. Cut comb off top bars. Place in Bucket #1.
  2. Chop, slice, or otherwise pulverize the honey comb in Bucket #1. I like to use a pastry cutter.
  3. Place TJ’s groovy honey stand on a bench or chair.
  4. Place Bucket #1 in TJ’s groovy honey stand. Tilt 45 degrees.
  5. Place Bucket #3 on the bench or chair below the honey stand.
  6. Place Bucket #2 on top of Bucket #3.

So now you should have the buckets arranged in order from top to bottom where Bucket #1 is on top, in the wooden stand. Check the trusty diagram if you need to.

Ok now, it’s business time!

Check to ensure that the honey gate on Bucket #3 is closed. Check that the mesh bag and sieve on Bucket #2 are secure. Then, open the honey gate on Bucket #1 and let ‘er flow.

Wait 24 hours and decant from Bucket #3. Share with friends, neighbors, and lover(s).

Decanting honey

Decanting honey


One Response to “Top Bar TJ’s Mad-Mad Honey Harvesting Method”


  1. First Honey Harvest - Part 2 | Gardenerd - May 28, 2013

    […] For a larger harvest, these tools would not be sufficient to handle the load, but for a small batch it works fine. Ordinarily it is recommended to use 5 gallon buckets with a large paint strainer to filter the honey. Most professionals outfit their buckets with a spout at the bottom to make filling jars easy and mess-free. Here’s an example. […]

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