A super is the part of a commercial beehive that is used to collect honey. Honey supers may contain eight to ten frames where the bees live and maintain their honeycomb. The most common variety has a depth of 6⁵/8 inches (approximately14 cm). During a honey flow beekeepers may put several honey supers onto a hive so the bees have enough storage space.
Because bees understandably do not want their honey to be removed, the bee-keeper is often in danger of getting stung. He or she (most beekeepers happen to be male) use either a brush soaked with water to brush the bees off the honey-combed frame (the water makes their wings too heavy to fly) or smoke, which is believed to quiet down the bees. Wise beekeepers do not take all of the honey: they leave enough for the bees to feed on during the winter. A minority of commercial beekeepers simply kills the bees outright and takes all the honey.
Although some honey is sold in the form of honeycomb, most is extracted from the comb before marketing. Once removed from the hive, the honeycomb cap-pings are stripped off the frames with a hot electric knife. The cappings are laterhcollected and melted down to get the wax, which can then be used for sealing pre-serves or making candles.
The uncapped frames are then placed in an extractor, which resembles an old-fashioned washing machine drum activated by a pulley that spins the frames around. Honey is sprayed out of the frames and drips down the inside of a drum to collect at the bottom. Each frame is spun first with one side outward, then flipped to expose the other side. The empty frames—known as stickies—are then returned to the hive.