I got this idea from the Fat Bee Man (YouTube user fineshooter). Fatbeeman is a commercial beekeeper that has a really fine YouTube channel. In it he shares a lot of really good information.
I saw his video where he was showing mason jars that had comb built into them. He then tells how this comb honey sells for a large premium. He can do that because nobody can figure out how the comb was put into the regular mouth jars.
Its actually pretty easy if you let the bees do it for you.
What he did was take some exterior grade wood and cut holes in it so that he could set the mouth of the jars into the hive.
I am sure this works well. Additionally, I have seen several videos of people duplicating his idea of upside down mason jars. However, I wanted my jars to have the protection of a hive body. I also wanted them to be more sturdily attached than just using gravity.
What I did was to use my hole saw to drill the large holes, but instead of making them so large to fit the jar mouth, I made them smaller so I had some wood to attach the rings to.
I used 4 small brass screws to attach a mason jar ring to each the board. Now I can screw the jar to the board so I don’t have to worry about comb being attached to the mouth of the jar.
One tip I would give you is to melt some beeswax in the bottom of the jar to give the bees something to attach their comb to.
Once the jar is filled with capped comb, remove it and top off with honey.
Harvesting in this method will reduce yields, but with the right marketing you should be able to make as much as normal by selling the jars at a premium.
it is now 2017 and I have used this Mason Jar Honey Super for several seasons. I am unhappy with it, and don’t think it is worth the effort. I haven’t gotten very much honey from the boxes. and won’t be doing this again.
The mason jar bee idea from fatbeeman was awesome, and it is one of my most popular videos. Unfortunately my bees just didn’t do well with it.
I am mostly to blame for the lack of honey collected in this manner as I am no where near the skill level of the fatbeeman.
However, I don’t think I am the only blame. The mason jars are small and clear which makes them unnatural for the bees.
and it is hard for the bees to start producing comb inside the jar.
I do believe that the originator of this idea was right when he said that the comb honey in the jar would fetch a premium as a novelty as people could not figure out how the comb got inside the jar. However, I don’t believe the premium would make up for the reduced amount of honey produced.
In my experience I had eggs and drone cells in my jars so I would think that if you are going to try this experiment you may want to use a queen excluder. That is something many of my fellow beekeepers feel strongly against.
Anyway, I like this idea when I tried it, and I still do. My level of skill is not where it needs to be to pull it off. Feel free to try it in your hives and if it works I would love to hear your story.