Beekeeping is often thought of as being a traditional hobby, being one with nature and tending to your bees in a natural environment. On the whole, this is mostly true but there are stages of beekeeping where science comes into play and technology gives us some very useful gadgets to make the science part a lot easier!
Most beekeepers will say that the honey harvesting stage is the most exciting, the moment when they extract the honey from the frames is a joyous occasion for everyone, that magical moment when you start to reap the rewards from your hard work!
Enter the Honey Refractometer! A wonderful tool that technology has provided us in recent years, something that the beekeepers of past knew nothing about and so had to rely on trial and error to find something near the right levels. The arrival of the refractometer for honey changed the beekeeping landscape forever!
A refractometer measures the water content and nutrient levels of your honey, an essential tool that will control the overall quality of your end product.
Using a refractometer will quickly enable you to produce high-grade honey which will bring great benefits to your business and improve your honey recipes.
This powerful little tool is so easy to use, it only requires a couple of drops and it will give you extremely accurate readings. Here’s a quick rundown of how it works and what you should be looking for:
Finding the right refractometer might take some time as there are many options to search through. With so many features and the potential to get lost with some of the science talk, we’ve taken the time to look through all of the options and pick out the best ones on the market at the moment.
Without any knowledge on these tools, it might take someone one or two (or several!) purchases before finding the right one for them. So, let us do the hard work and point you in the right direction with our honey refractometer review, which should not only save you time but hopefully a lot of money as well!
The BX-3 is a portable and handheld refractometer that is water-resistant and can be run on ambient light, this is very convenient as no extra power source is required. The BX-3 also comes with a carry case, a transfer pipet, and an instruction manual just in case you get into any technical trouble!
The price tag leans more towards the higher end of the scale but it’s a solid design, so if you don’t mind paying a bit extra then this option will certainly give you pinpoint readings to ensure your honey is the best it can be!
The refractometer from Roundsquare is a good all-round product that will give you accurate measurements when testing the quality of your honey.
You also get a pipette for transferring the honey, a cloth to keep your tool clean for the next measurements, a screwdriver for when you need to recalibrate and a neat storage box for when you are finished. The price point is perfect for beginners and we would be surprised if you can find a cheaper refractometer made to this standard.
The V-Resourcing is another refractometer that ticks all the boxes, making it perfect for checking your honey readings. The main prism and cover plate are well designed and offer enough room for the two or three drops required to take your Brix and water content measurements.
We think that it’s another well-priced option, along with the storage case, cleaning cloth and instruction manual, it has everything a beginner beekeeper would need to take their first readings and move closer to the perfect batch of honey!
The Grand Index refractometer offers everything that you would need to start taking Brix and water content levels from your honey. It feels very durable and lightweight at the same time, it’s made from aluminum with a rubber textured grip so there is no chance for it to slip out of your hands!
This option from Grand Index also includes a soft storage case, a transfer pipette and mini-screwdriver for recalibration, therefore it’s safe to say that this product meets all of the requirements that we expect from a quality refractometer.
The Atago refractometer is without a doubt one of the most expensive options in our list, but we are fair and take all products into consideration. This offering is a small and compact device that displays all of the measurement readings via its LED display.
The design of the Atago device allows for simple and quick readings, the rounded well makes it easy to drop the honey onto the prism, in fact, the design is so clever that it is near impossible to miss! It comes with a two-year warranty, a carry case and a useful instruction manual.
As mentioned, it is expensive, but for those who are willing to pay the extra money, they will be getting a top quality product that is super easy and quick to use.
A high-end offering from Misco that goes above and beyond all the expected requirements for a honey-based refractometer, giving the most accurate readings capable of any refractometer on the market at this current time.
The large LCD display proves to be very useful and also has a backlight so you can use this in any low-light setting. The rubber casing adds to the rugged design and it’s clear that this is built to last and should be able to withstand a bit of rough and tumble!
You only need to press one button to take readings and only one button to navigate the settings, making this very easy to use, even for the less tech-savvy beekeepers out there!
The fact that this is purely digital and clearly unlike the average refractometer on the market will point to a high price tag, much higher in fact, but if budget is not an issue and you are looking for something that can give you pinpoint accuracy then look no further, this option from Misco is the one for you.
The Milwaukee digital refractometer is one of the cheaper digital options, but it still . The device is small, compact and very portable, ideal for carrying around in your pocket or when you are out and about in your apiary.
The price tag is on the upper scale due to the digitized components but it does offer accurate readings, that you can trust time and time again, plus it takes a lot of work and possible misreads away from the user.
This could be a useful option for those who have trouble with their eyesight, the digital display makes it super easy to read the results. A solid choice for those with bigger budgets and who are working on larger projects.
TekcoPlus bring another option to the table with some nice little extras, which is also nice to see! The accuracy is very high and better than most other options on the market in its price range. This refractometer comes with all of the required features, including the auto temperature compensation (ATC) which helps with the overall accuracy and removes any exterior heat complications.
Calibration is easy to carry out and only needs adjusting every now and then (once every two or three months is usually fine). The TekcoPlus also comes with two pipettes, a portable USB LED light and the usual cleaning cloth, carry case and mini-screwdriver.
The price tag for this device is around average and meets all of the requirements so it’s another worthy addition to our list of refractometers!
The Ade Advanced refractometer is our Top Pick and it definitely deserves the accolade! The perfect device for beginners and professionals, giving accurate readings that will help you produce high-grade honey. The Brix scale is measured from 58% to 90% and the water content is measured from 10% to 33% with an accuracy of 0.5% for Brix and 1% for the water level.
The device is made from premium materials and comes with a two-year warranty, it’s made up of aluminum which means it’s lightweight and the grip is as you would expect, non-slip rubber that enables you to take accurate readings.
The eyepiece is comfortable and offers adjustable focus to allow for easier and quicker readings. The ATC (automatic temperature compensation) feature prevents outside heat from affecting the measurement levels.
All in all, this refractometer for honey from Ade Advanced provides all of the recommended requirements and ticks off all the necessary features. Furthermore, it proves to be very popular with other beekeepers and that is always a good sign of a top product.
Other little essentials include a pipette for dropping honey onto the prism, a mini screwdriver for re-calibration, and a user manual. Lastly, the price point is spot on and offers excellent value for money when you consider all of the premium materials that are used to build it.
Make sure you consider this option when you are looking for your first, or next, refractometer, it certainly gets a thumbs up from us!
The refractometer from Aichose is our Budget Pick and it was quite a clear choice for us in the end. It ticks off all of the requirements when looking for a quality refractometer. The perfect mix of design and value, this option gives you precise readings using the high-quality optic design.
The Brix scale can be measured between 58% and 90% (0.5% accuracy) and the water content is measured between 12% and 27% (with an improved accuracy of 0.5%).
The automatic temperature compensation feature makes for even faster results, which is great for if you are up against strict time deadlines. The body is made of aluminium which makes it lightweight, yet in your hands, it feels strong and the rubber grip makes sure that it’s easy to handle.
Calibration is easy and the eyepiece makes for easy viewing, the prism and cover plate design is also what you would expect from a well-built device.
The detailed user manual is handy as a backup but using this refractometer is a breeze. Making sure the device is calibrated first (you only need to this once every few months), you then simply place two or three drops of honey on the prism.
Make sure the honey covers all of the surface, minimizing the dry spots and air bubbles. All you need to do is close the cover plate over the prism and then take your readings by looking through the eyepiece. It’s also good practice to clean the device after every reading which will keep the instrument accurate for next time.
Overall, this option from Aichose is certainly worthy of our Budget Pick and will help both beginners and experienced beekeepers to be able to produce high-quality honey.
The price tag will not break the bank and you are getting value for money as well, now that is something that we can always appreciate!
The honey is, of course, the main ingredient and we all aim to produce honey that is tasty and pure, but there is something else that needs some consideration and that is water!
The water content will make or break your honey, well, not literally, but the amount of water in your honey goes a long way in controlling how long it will stay fresh for. Honey is hygroscopic, which in simple terms, means that it absorbs water very well.
Depending on the environment you live in, your honey will absorb more moisture in high humidity areas, but it also has the potential to release moisture in areas with low humidity.
In summary the lower the water content in your honey, the better your honey will be. Water in the honey causes it to ferment which makes it’s acidic and not very tasty at all. It is recommended to keep your water content less than 20% before extracting your honey, however, you don’t want your water content to be too low as this will cause your honey to crystallize.
It’s a case of finding the right levels to create the best honey product possible. Slight variations in the honey will affect the overall quality so you need to be able to accurately measure these levels for continued success.
The majority of refractometers should meet the recommended requirements to give you easy and accurate readings. Not every product is perfect though and there are some specific features to look out for, we’ve made a quick list of the features that we think every device should include.
After all, this all comes down to the quality of your honey and surely you want it to be the best grade possible. Using a simple and affordable tool like a refractometer will improve the quality of your honey, and that’s what we are all aiming for right? Tasty honey!
If you want to get serious about beekeeping and produce the best possible honey, there are many areas where you can optimize your workflow and working methods.
Little by little you will start to notice where you can improve these areas, sometimes by changing the way you work and sometimes by introducing new tools, and the honey refractometer is one of those tools that will help you become a better beekeeper, it’s simple to use but the results can have huge impacts on your end goals, and we can all agree that those end goals are based around being able to produce the best batches of honey possible!
Plus, when you think about it, your bees have been working hard to produce all of this honey. We think it’s only fair that you repay them by ensuring the honey is cared for on its journey from the hive to the jar! Hopefully, our honey refractometer review has given you plenty of food for thought, picking out the better options that are available and explaining the finer details of the process. It just goes to show that science doesn’t have to be complicated!