When the time comes to harvest the honey, beekeepers usually add a small amount of smoke to the hive. When this occurs, the bees become inactive. Then the beekeeper is able to reach inside the hive Honey is harvested at the end of a flowering season. The small scale beekeepers selects the combs that contain ripe honey, covered with a fine layer of white beeswax. These combs are generally the outer-most ones. Combs containing any pollen or developing bees are left undisturbed.
The honeycomb can be simply cut into pieces and sold as fresh or the honeycomb can be broken up and strained through muslin or any form of filter to separate the honey from the beeswax. Once honey is separated from the beeswax combs, the beeswax can be melted gently (over water) into a block. It does not deteriorate with age and the scarps of beeswax can be kept until there are sufficient amounts to sell. Honey is obtained from frame hives via spinning the frames in a centrifugal extractor. The empty honeycombs are then returned to the hive.
The combs are recycled, bees put effort into honey making rather than beeswax comb production. This is why the beeswax yield from frame hive beekeeping is little compared to traditional beekeeping methods. Selection of harvesting and processing equipment depends upon the quantities to be processed, and the type of product required. In some areas, traditional beekeeping is practiced on a large-scale and is available relatively expensive.