Best Honey Extractors

Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for shopping guide for best honey extractors

Bees are natural pollinators that play a crucial role in ecosystems. In addition to maintaining the natural order of things, bees add to the flavor of life in cooking and cuisine by producing honey. The sweet substance, including locally sourced honey, is available from many food retailers. Some individuals fascinated by bees take their honey affinity to the next level by becoming beekeepers (apiarists) and producing their own honey, and for that you need a honey extractor.

Honey extractors separate the honey from the honeycomb in a simple but ingenious process that relies on centrifugal force. Once the strategically arranged racks are in place, the manual or electric honey extractor spins at a slow, steady speed to pull honey from the comb. The honey then drips down to the bottom of the drum toward a capped spout called a honey gate.

Honey extractors are designed to keep the process simple for new hobbyists while still satisfying the needs of professional beekeepers. We took the top honey extractors for a spin to provide you with all the details you need to choose the best one for your needs, as well as a few favorites we think are pretty sweet.

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Harvesting honey is seasonal, depending on where you live, but beekeeping is a year-round commitment. It’s important to follow weather forecasts and plan accordingly, weeks and months in advance, to keep your bees safe and protected.

Key considerations

Tangential vs. radial extractors

There are two types of honey extractor: tangential and radial. These terms refer to the arrangement of the frames (the parts of the hive that hold the honeycomb) within the drum (barrel). Tangential extractors have one side of the honeycomb facing outward, while radial extractors have the top bar of the frame facing outward.

Depending on the size of the honey extractor, the frames can be set up in either position. Some smaller and more basic extractors only accommodate one arrangement. It’s based on preference, though some apiarists cite that radial extractors work more slowly than tangential ones.

Frame size

Frames are typically either shallow, medium, or deep. Some honey extractors can accommodate more than one size frame. It’s important to use the same size frames during the extraction process, though, because using different sizes could unbalance the extractor and affect its operation.

Manual vs. electric

  • Manual honey extractors have a hand crank on the top or side. The speed of the machine is easily controlled, but the cranking motion could take some getting used to for those new to the process.

  • Electric extractors are as easy to use as flipping a switch. Some have one speed, though more advanced models offer various speed settings.


Choosing the right honey extractor depends on how much honey your hives produce. The larger your operation, the more frames you’ll want in your honey extractor at one time. Beekeepers with one or two hives who are only extracting honey for personal consumption will be happy with a smaller model that holds a couple frames. More experienced or professional beekeepers will want a larger honey extractor that holds four or more frames.

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Did you know?
Honey can crystallize at lower temperatures, such when it’s kept in the refrigerator. However, it doesn’t crystallize if it’s kept below 41°F (5°C), and will retain its integrity in liquid form.

Honey extractor features


Honey extractors are typically made of stainless steel, though the grade and quality can vary. Internal components are also usually made of stainless steel. Some honey extractors have a plexiglass lid for viewing during the process. The honey gate and crank parts are usually made of metal or plastic.


Some honey extractors are small enough to be carried by one person. The models we looked at are portable and quite easily carried, especially when empty. Some have handles or knobs that make handling the devices even more convenient. Other honey extractors are much larger, particularly those used for commercial and industrial purposes that hold more frames.

Honey gate

The honey gate is the capped spout at the bottom of the extractor that opens to pour the extracted honey into containers. It’s usually made of food-grade plastic, nylon, or stainless steel and is designed to be completely sealed and airtight to avoid leaks. Honey gates have unique modifications among models in which the caps are secured in various ways, whether by a nut-and-bolt mechanism or attached to a small chain.

Honey extractor prices

Honey extractors start at around $100 and go up to about $400.

Inexpensive: Models with a two-frame capacity make up the lower end of the range and are relatively basic for small yields. These are aimed toward newer beekeepers.

Mid-range: In the $200 to $300 range, these models accommodate more frames and are generally geared toward intermediate-level beekeepers.

Expensive: Honey extractors that cost up to $400 and more have the largest frame capacity, and some electric models have different speed settings.


  • Secure the legs. Some honey extractors are mounted on legs, which can be wobbly. Regularly inspect the nuts and bolts and tighten them if necessary. If you still think the legs are too flimsy, you can bolt them to a weighted base.

  • Buy a bee suit and equipment. Protect yourself from stings by wearing a bee suit, gloves, and face protection when you work with your bees.

  • Harvest honey at the right time. Once the honey is ready, the bees cap the cells with a thin cover of beeswax. Uncapped honey contains too much moisture. If you’re unsure if it’s time to extract honey, defer to a seasoned beekeeper to help assess any partially capped frames.

  • Invest in a food-grade thermometer. If you’re thinking about pasteurizing your extracted honey, invest in a food-grade thermometer so you can be sure the honey reaches the right temperature.

  • Freeze the frames. If you can’t extract the honey for some reason, you can keep frames in the freezer. This will keep the honey from attracting bugs or animals. Another option is to completely wrap and seal the frames and keep them at room temperature.

  • Be patient. You have to wait for the bees to produce honey, which takes around six weeks.
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Hive frames are where bee colonies make honey inside honeycomb. Eight to ten frames fit in a honey super, a box that sits on top of the hive.


Q. Do I need a permit to become a beekeeper?

A. It depends on your state and local laws. Check with your town, county, or nearby beekeeping or agricultural associations for information on regulations.

Q. Where do I get bees?

A. You can buy bees from a reputable bee farm retailer. They come in different packages priced based on size (4,000 bees weigh a pound) and cost between $100 to $700. The bee package generally comes with a queen (new or old, depending on the type of the hive or swarm) and a colony.

Q. Can I eat raw honey straight from the honey extractor?

A. You can, but some people decide to put it through a pasteurization process before consumption. As long as you have a sauce pan and a food-grade thermometer, you can pasteurize your own honey.

Q. It’s gotten harder to operate my manual honey extractor. Is it broken?

A. It could be due to a substance buildup. After each use, be sure to clean your honey extractor to make sure there are no particles or stickiness to inhibit its function. It could also be a mechanical jam or malfunction, so check that all moving parts are in place and in sync. Some parts may require regular lubrication, so refer to the user guide for approved products.

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