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Honey farming is the process of collecting honey bottles and honeycombs from beehives and bee nests. To get honeycombs, you can use shears when the beehive or bee nest has reached honey_level 5. Honeycomb is used for crafting your own beehives or bee nests for bees to inhabit, as well as for crafting decorative honeycomb blocks, candles, and waxing copper blocks. To get honey bottles, you can use an empty bottle on a hive or nest at honey level 5. Honey bottles are food items that are able to cure poison, and can also be used for crafting sugar and honey blocks, the latter of which have sticky properties that give them a variety of useful applications.

Honey is generated by bees after they collect pollen and nectar. Bees emerge from their home and go looking for flowers. After collecting pollen and nectar at the flowers, the bees return home and go inside to turn the nectar into honey. When done, the bees emerge again to look for more flowers. Over time the honey collects until the bee nest or beehive is full and can then be harvested by the player in various forms.

Getting Started[]

Obtaining Bees[]

Bee nests can be found naturally generated in some biomes such as the flower forest. As shown here, it is important to place a campfire beneath before harvesting from it to avoid angering the bees nearby. For if you do anger the bees, they will attack you, lose their stingers in the process and die shortly after.

The first step on your foray into apiculture is to find bees in your world. Your initial source of bees will be a naturally generated or spawned bee nest. Bee nests have a small chance to generate on oak or birch trees in specific biomes during world generation. After world generation, there is also a chance for a bee nest to spawn on a tree when that tree grows near flowers (see post-generation).

Bee nests and beehives both slowly fill up with honey over time as the bees do their work collecting pollen from flowers. If you find a natural bee nest and it is conveniently located, you can leave it as is and return to collect the honey when you want. Keep in mind that breaking a bee nest without Silk Touch will break it without dropping anything and all the bees that were both outside and inside the nest will swarm the player regardless of whether or not a campfire was placed underneath it. Aside from hazard to the player, this is disastrous because every bee which successfully stings you will die, and this can wipe out a hive.

If you want the bees at another location, you have a few options for getting them there. First, you will need a beehive at the new location. (Beehives are constructed using honeycomb. To get your first honeycomb, you will need to find a bee nest that has reached honey level 5 and then use shears on it. See Avoiding Bee Anger below.) You can then bring bees to your hive from the nest. You can also just move a whole nest if you want, see below.

Bees can be lured using any type of flower (including 2-block flowers and wither roses), and can also be moved using leads. If you feed the bees the flowers, they will enter love mode and breed, producing a baby bee. However, if the bee nest is situated at a large distance from where you wish to do your beekeeping, a convenient way to transport bees is to break an occupied bee nest with a tool with Silk Touch and bring the nest with you. Bees that are occupying the nest when it is broken with a tool with Silk Touch will remain inside the nest as an item and will not get angry with you. Bees will attempt to return to their nests at night or when it is raining, making them both optimal times to break the nest.

If you don't have a tool with Silk Touch or don't want to remove the bee nest from its natural location, another option is to stay with the bees as they work until they have filled their nest with honey. Then, place a campfire at least two blocks directly below the hive, and put carpet on top of the campfire ‌[Java Edition only]. The campfire keeps the bees from getting angry with you, and the carpet keeps you from cooking the bees alive.

When this is in place, use shears on the hive to extract three honeycombs (they'll fly out in a random direction). The honeycomb can be used to craft a beehive that you can place anywhere you like.

A beehive is functionally identical to a bee nest, but will not be destroyed if broken with a tool without Silk Touch (though it will cause the bees inside to exit the hive and swarm). Also, if you don't want to completely remove the original bee population, consider breeding your own group of bees from the original group to take home with you.

See also: Beehive

As of Java Edition 1.15.2, occupied bee nests additionally have a 5% chance to spawn on oak or birch trees in any biome that were grown from saplings within two blocks of any flower at the same y-level. With a bit of luck and a large enough supply of oak or birch saplings and bone meal, one can obtain bees relatively easily without having to travel, by repeatedly growing trees near flowers until one spawns a bee nest as it grows. This is also an ideal way to obtain bees in older worlds created prior to Java Edition 1.15, as it saves players from having to locate anything.

Helping Bees Work[]

Similar to villagers, bees follow their own schedule. During the day in clear weather, bees will leave their beehive or bee nest and wander around in search of flowers. When they have found a flower, they will hover over the flower for a short time to collect pollen. Once they have collected pollen, their appearance will change and they will begin heading back to their hives. When they get back, bees will enter the hive and begin working for 2 minutes. Once they are done, if it is still daytime and the weather is clear, they will exit the hive and repeat the process. When night falls or the weather is rainy or stormy, bees will try and return to their hives regardless of if they have collected pollen or not.

As long as bees have a beehive to live in and access to flowers, they are perfectly fine working in the dreary environment of The Nether.

To help improve the efficiency of the bees' work, place flowers near the hive so they can gather pollen and return to their hive as quickly as possible. You can also improve the efficiency of your bees by relocating them to the Nether or the End, as neither dimension experiences weather or daylight cycles, meaning that bees can work at any time.[verify] If you're worried about bees wandering too far away from their hives, it may be wise to build an enclosure to both protect them and prevent them from straying too far away. This is especially important if you choose to keep the bees in The Nether or in The End, as these dimensions can be particularly dangerous.

See also: Flowers

It is worth noting that the pollen particles that fall from bees can cause crops to advance growth stages similar to using bone meal. Thus, it can be beneficial to build your beehives near your crops to allow the bees to help them grow faster, although doing so will not improve the bee's efficiency in making honey.

Harvesting[]

Dripping honey.

Main article: Beehive

Pollinated bees fly into beehives and start working for a while. When done, they exit the hive, increasing the honey level by 1. When the honey level has reached 5, the block's appearance changes, indicating that it is full of honey, and produces dripping honey particles if suspended above the ground. If shears are used on a full beehive, it drops three honeycombs. Unlike with shearing pumpkins, these honeycomb items are generated directly in the center of the block, causing them to spray everywhere (this is intended behavior).[1] If an empty glass bottle is used on a full beehive, the bottle fills with honey, becoming a honey bottle. However, if this is done by hand without preparation, the bees will take offense and attack the player!


Avoiding Bee Anger[]

The campfire is set into the ground and covered by a carpet to prevent the fire from damaging the bees.

In Java Edition, bees can be protected from the campfire by placing a carpet over it.

Unfortunately, casually harvesting honey or honeycomb causes any bees inside the hive to emerge and attack the player who does it. If the player fights back with any attack, every bee in range will join the attack. Any time a bee succeeds in landing an attack, the player gets poisoned, and the bee itself dies about a minute later. Naturally, this is bad when you were hoping to adopt those bees, and worse when it's most of your own swarm committing suicide!

There are two main ways to avoid this fate: One is to maintain deniability by using redstone: Hives can be harvested by using a dispenser (with a glass bottle or shears), and then the bees will not attack anyone. The "Automatic Harvesting" section below discusses designs for using redstone. This method also has the advantage that the player's attention is hardly required.

The other is to place a lit campfire (or even fire) directly underneath the hive. A campfire can be within five blocks underneath the hive, if nothing blocks the smoke. This "smokes" the hive, so that harvesting does not aggravate the bees. However, a campfire (let alone a fire block) also damages mobs that touch it, and bees are no exception. In Java Edition, you can put the campfire just below ground level, with a carpet over it. The carpet will not block the smoke, and the covered campfire can stay there forever, allowing you to harvest the nest or hive at will. In Bedrock Edition, you'll instead need to put out the campfire after you are done harvesting, and relight it the next time you want to harvest.

Even if there are no bees in a nest or hive, harvesting them or breaking them can anger bees if they are nearby. One way of making sure a nest or hive is empty before breaking it is to block all six sides of the hive with solid blocks so bees can't enter. Then wait until night so the bees go back into their remaining hives, and the hive can be broken (or harvested) safely. The blocks must be solid and touching the hive. Fence posts, glass panes, and trap doors will not block the surface and contain the bees.

Protecting Your Bees[]

Be careful about hazards in the vicinity, remembering that bees explore a wide range and fly over fences and walls. Lava, fire, uncovered campfires, and cactus can all act as "bug-zappers" and wipe out your colony. Bees can also wander through nether portals -- you may want to keep a flower or two ready on the other side to help lure them back. Aside from making the area safe, you may want to breed up an extra hive/nest or two, collect them with Silk Touch, and stash them someplace safe in case of disaster.

Once you've built up a few productive hives, the most likely disaster is accidentally aggravating your bees -- never mind the hazard to you, but every bee that successfully attacks you will die, which can wipe out whole hives. If you can't quickly escape to someplace where the bees can't follow you, the best option might be to just stand there and let the bees get it over with quickly, eating enough food that you won't be killed directly by the sting damage, and wait out the bee's deaths. (The poison damage can't kill you by itself, and if you already have a honey bottle you can cure it anyway.) After you've waited out the bees' deaths, keep waiting a bit longer -- if you're lucky, at least a few of your bees will be busy inside their hives for the duration of the attack, so they will survive and you can breed them to re-fill the newly-emptied hives. As above, keeping backup hives safely in a chest can also help with this situation.

Products[]

Honey Bottles[]

Main article: Honey Bottle
See also: Honey Block

Honey bottles can be farmed using glass bottles on beehives or bee nests. Bees will fly around a flower to collect pollen. If they carry the pollen back to their hive, then the honey level of the hive will be raised by 1. When the honey level reaches 5, the texture of the hive or nest will change to show honey dripping out, and you will be able to collect the honey. Then you can press the 'use item' button on the nest with a glass bottle in your hand to get a honey bottle. Honey bottles provide a stackable remedy for poison; unlike milk, they will not remove other buffs or debuffs.

Honey bottles can be crafted into honey blocks in your inventory's crafting grid; you do get the empty bottles back. Honey blocks have a variety of useful features: As a floor, they reduce fall damage by 80%, but also slow movement and jumping. As a wall, they let players slow their fall and avoid fall damage. When moved by pistons, they can drag along adjacent blocks and even creatures walking atop them. See their article for full details.

Honeycombs[]

Main article: Honeycomb

Using shears on a hive or nest that is full of honey will extract three honeycombs. Four honeycomb can be crafted into a honeycomb block, which is a purely decorative block. As of 1.17, honeycombs can also be used to make candles, and to preserve copper blocks from (further) oxidation.

But, most immediately relevant, honeycombs are also used for crafting beehives. The recipe for a beehive is below. Beehives differ from natural bee nests only in that the hive can be harvested without Silk Touch (but any bees within, or flying nearby, must be placated).

Ingredients Crafting recipe
Any Planks +
Honeycomb

Automatic Harvesting[]

Dispensers can be used to harvest honey bottles and honeycomb from a hive using a redstone signal. The output of the dispenser must be pointing towards the beehive, and the dispenser must contain glass bottles to collect honey bottles, or shears to collect honeycomb. Collecting honey bottles will place the item directly into the dispenser, whereas collecting honeycomb will cause the items to drop onto the floor. You can prevent filled honey bottles from getting placed back in the dispenser by using an item filter below the dispenser. The benefit to using an item filter is that you will not need to fill each slot of the dispenser up. Dispensers will deplete the durability of the shears with every use. Note that harvesting from the hives using dispensers will not anger the bees, so placing campfires underneath them is not necessary if you are choosing to harvest this way.

Redstone comparators are able to output a redstone signal from a beehive based on the honey level of the hive. Every time a bee exits the hive after having worked with the pollen it has collected, the honey level will increase by 1. Each honey level increases the redstone output from a redstone comparator by 1, to a maximum of 5, which is when the hive will change the appearance and indicate it is ready for harvest. By using this mechanic, you can set up a system with the output signal to activate a dispenser as soon as the hive is full. The two designs shown are both tileable; the longer and more expensive one puts the hive on top, and allows a .

Observers are less useful here, because they will output a signal every time the honey level of the hive changes, not just when the hive is ready to be harvested. This is a problem if trying to collect honey bottles: If the hive is not ready to be harvested, the dispenser will eject a glass bottle when the observer activates it. This could lead to a lot of glass bottles being lost if you don't have a system to pick them back up again. Observers work better for harvesting honeycomb -- if the hive isn't ready, dispensers won't even wear down the shears, let alone eject them.

Honeycombs[]

A 1-block wide setup that will activate a dispenser above a beehive when it is ready for harvest.

A 1-block wide setup that will collect honeycombs and eject them into the same space the bees occupy, to be collected from below.

When a dispenser collects honey from a beehive or bee nest with shears in its inventory, 3 honeycombs will be ejected from the hive in a random direction and the shears inside the dispenser will lose 1 point of durability. Because of this, the goal is to restrict where the honeycombs can go and have a hopper or minecart with hopper to pick them up. Surrounding the hive in full blocks and leaving one block empty will help restrict where the honeycombs will be ejected. However, make sure that the front of the hive is not obstructed by any blocks, as it needs to be accessible to allow bees to enter and exit the hive.

The dispenser should be filled with as many shears as possible to maximize the time the system can operate before refilling. You could even set up a way to automatically restock the dispenser with shears when the durability runs out.


Honey Bottles[]

A 1-block wide setup that will activate a dispenser once a beehive is ready.

1-block wide setup that will activate a dispenser once a beehive is ready for harvest

Honey collector with bottle filter

A 1-block wide setup that will collect honey using a dispenser and extract the honey bottles with an item sorter

Honey collector

1-block wide setup that stores empty bottles in a dropper next to the dispenser. This negates the need for an item sorter

When a dispenser collects honey from a beehive or bee nest with a glass bottle in its inventory, a honey bottle will be placed into its inventory. In order to extract the honey bottles from a dispenser in a lossless fashion, the best way to do so is to set up an item sorter underneath the dispenser to collect only honey bottles. 8 of the 9 slots of the dispenser should be filled with as many glass bottles as possible, leaving at least one space empty for the honey bottles. The more glass bottles that are loaded into the dispenser, the longer this system can run without restocking. Naturally once you pick up the honey bottles, you can craft them into honey blocks, thus freeing up the bottles for reuse.

Note: If the design in the sidebar image is tiled as shown, the dispensers will be inaccessible -- the grass block in front of the dispenser needs to be replaced with a slab, fence, or trapdoor so it can be refilled with empty bottles. The top hopper in each row needs to be set up with 2 honey bottles in the first slot, and 11-13 "junk" items (stackable to 64) spread across the other slots. As honey is collected, one bottle will be kept in the lower hopper, but bottles after that will be passed on to the output.

The design also has one non-obvious failure state -- if a hive becomes full and the dispenser has run out of bottles, even after being resupplied it will not harvest the hive. The solution here is to break and replace a piece of redstone dust on the hive's top-layer trail. This will interrupt the comparator's signal and allow the dispenser to trigger on the full hive.

Videos[]

  1. MC-169497 – resolved as "Works as Intended"
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