What you need for your first harvest
I suggest that you start of small. Don't throw yourself into unneccessary expenses, all you really need for your first harvest is a knife, a sive and a container that will hold your newly acquired honey. Remember that you can get quite a bit of honey from a full honey super, up to 18 or 20 liters. Also, honey is heavy, about one and a half times as heavy as water, so expect to lift up to 30Kg to get your honey super away from your bees. We've learned that 3/4 supers are easier to handle and have changed all our honey supers to that.
Here's how we started off: we purchased 2 food-grade containers with a lid each, drilled holes (about 8mm) in the floor of the top container and a large hole in the lid of the bottom container, placed them on top of each other and, bingo, we have our honey extractor.
You don't need a honey spinner or complex pipework. In fact we have stopped using that equipment. The picture shows the harvest of 2 three quater supers, with some already filled into jars.
Where to harvest
Bees are quite attached to their honey, so harvesting anywhere near the hives is not a good idea. We challange ourselves to to complete a harvest without having a single bee in the kitchen.
Sometimes we harvest a frame at a time. Just shake and carefully brush the bees off somewhere near the hive, take the frame to the kitchen, cut out the honey and place the 'wet' frame back in the hive. Leave some honeycomb along the top of the frame so that your bees can start a new comb, or else prepare a new frame with a full wax strip or starter strip. If you have plastic frames just put the wet plastic frame back in the same hive.
If you harvest an entire super, then take off the super, close the hive and move the super away from a direct line of the bees. We harvest on the other side of the house. Carefully shake and bruss off the bees frame by frame and ensure that there are no bees left on the frame before you carry it to the kitchen.
Bees are quite attached to their honey.
Take care that you don't encourage robbing. If other hives find exposed honey in or near a foreign hive they may want to take that for themselves. Also, don't put your wet frames onto anohter hive. That way you don't inadvertently spread any potential diseases.
If you need help with a harvest and you'd like my help, just make an appointment here.
What to do with all the wax?
Make beeswax candles. See my blog coming soon.