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.
The first step on your foray into apiculture is to find bees in your world. Your initial source of bees is 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 an oak or birch 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 breaks it without dropping anything and, cause all the bees from that nest to swarm the player regardless of whether or not a campfire was placed underneath it. Aside from hazard to the player, this is disastrous because the bees die from stinging you, 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 need a beehive at the new location. (Beehives are constructed using honeycomb. To get your first honeycomb, you 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 (and bred) 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 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 remain inside the nest as an item and are not angered. Bees return to their nests at night or when it is raining; these are 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 it is not destroyed if broken with a tool without Silk Touch (though this still causes 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. You can lure them to follow you by holding flowers.
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 leave their beehive or bee nest and wander around in search of flowers. When a bee finds a flower, it hovers over the flower for a short time to collect pollen, changing its appearance, after which it heads back to the hive. The pollen-laden bee enters the hive and works for 2 minutes, and then if it is still daytime and the weather is clear, it exits the hive to repeat the process. When night falls or the weather is rainy or stormy, bees return to their hives regardless of whether they have collected pollen.
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.
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 does not improve the bee's efficiency in making honey.
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). 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 take offense and attack the player!
Avoiding bee anger
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 joins 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 most of your own swarm commits suicide!
There are two main ways to avoid this fate: One 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 does not block the smoke, and the covered campfire can stay there forever, allowing you to harvest the nest or hive. A trapdoor also works just as well. In Bedrock Edition, carpeting the campfire blocks the smoke. It is best to put the campfire in a hole below the beehive and put a fence around the hole to prevent animals from burning themselves (this works in Java Edition too).
The other 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 do not attack anyone. This works because the whenever a block gets activated by redstone, such as a Dispenser or TNT, the game cannot determine who activated said block - it only sees that the targeted block was activated via redstone. As such, the game is unable to assign a target for the bees to attack. This mechanic can also extend to other aspects of the game, such as determining who attacks a Villager via exploding TNT or the ability to block TNT with a Shield. The #Automatic harvesting section below discusses designs for using redstone.
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 do not block the surface or 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 stings successfully 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, and wait out the bee's deaths. Just eat enough food so the sting damage won't kill you -- 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, grab some spare flowers and keep waiting a bit longer — if you're lucky, a few of your bees may have been busy inside their hives for the duration of the attack, so 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.
Honey bottles can be farmed using glass bottles on beehives or bee nests. Bees fly around a flower to collect pollen. If they carry the pollen back to their hive, then the honey level of the hive is raised by 1. When the honey level reaches 5, the texture of the hive or nest changes to show honey dripping out, and you can 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 do not remove other buffs or debuffs. Honey bottles stack to 16 per inventory slot.
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 (like slime blocks) and even (unlike slime blocks) carry along creatures walking atop them. You can also craft them back into honey bottles, by putting them into a crafting table with four empty bottles (four separate slots/stacks).
Using shears on a hive or nest that is full of honey yields three honeycombs. Four honeycombs 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 in that the hive can be harvested without Silk Touch (but any bees within, or flying nearby, must be placated).
|Any Planks +
Dispensers can be used to harvest honey bottles and honeycomb from a hive using a redstone signal. The output of the dispenser must point toward the beehive, and the dispenser must contain glass bottles to collect honey bottles, or shears to collect honeycomb. Collecting honey bottles places the item directly into the dispenser, whereas collecting honeycomb causes 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 don't need to fill each slot of the dispenser. Dispensers deplete the durability of the shears with every use. Note that harvesting from the hives using dispensers doesn't anger the bees, so placing campfires underneath them is not necessary if you harvest this way.
Redstone comparators 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 increases 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 changes in appearance and indicates 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 filtering hopper to be placed below..
Observers are less useful here, because they 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 ejects 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 don't wear down the shears or eject them.
When a dispenser collects honey from a beehive or bee nest with shears in its inventory, 3 honeycombs are ejected from the hive in a random direction and the shears inside the dispenser 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 helps restrict where the honeycombs are 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.
When a dispenser collects honey from a beehive or bee nest with a glass bottle in its inventory, a honey bottle is 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: Tiling the design as shown in the bottom two sidebar images will make the dispensers inaccessible — the grass block in front of the dispenser needs to be replaced with a slab, fence, or trapdoor so the dispenser can be refilled with empty bottles. The top hopper in each row must 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 is kept in the lower hopper, but bottles after that are 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 does 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 interrupts the comparator's signal and allows the dispenser to trigger on the full hive.
|Design 1 (view on YouTube)|
|Design 2 (view on YouTube)|
|Design 3 (view on YouTube)|
|Design 4 (view on YouTube)|
|Design 5 (view on YouTube)|
|Design 6 (view on YouTube)|
|Design 7 (view on YouTube)|
- – resolved as "Works as Intended"