8 Alternatives To Honey Extractors In 2024

Jars of extracted liquid honey on a bench outside with a river in the background

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Honey extractors are a handy piece of equipment, making easy work of extracting honey while keeping the comb intact. But they’re expensive, aren’t suitable for Warre and Top Bar hives, and may be overkill for small hobbyist beekeepers.

This guide offers eight practical alternatives to honey extractors. Some are tried and tested, while others are a little more experimental.

1. Crush and strain

Difficulty: Moderate | Cost: Low

The crush and strain method has been used since the days of collecting honey from wild hives and skeps. This technique cuts the honeycomb from the hive frames, crushes it up (comb and all), and then strains it.

The straining step is essential for separating honey from the wax and other foreign objects.

Closeup image of two hands squeezing honeycomb to crush the cells
Crush every cell to get all the honey.

Cut comb from the frame and place it in a bowl, then crush it with your hands or a potato masher. Once the cells are all broken, add everything to a colander lined with cheesecloth. Then place it in a large pot and allow it to sit overnight, covered with a cloth to keep out the dust.

This method is easy for beginners but quite labor-intensive. It also destroys the comb, meaning the bees must spend energy and resources to rebuild. For some hives, this will impact future honey production.


  • Low-cost option
  • Easy to implement


  • Destroys the comb
  • Labor-intensive

2. Cut comb

Difficulty: Low | Cost: Low

Getting honey from cut comb is less work than crushing and straining, and it looks much nicer. Until the early 1900s, comb was the trusted way to buy honey because consumers knew it hadn’t been adulterated.

A person slicing pieces of comb from a frame with blurred trees in the background
Cutting comb can get messy. Watch out for bees in the outdoors!

The idea is to slice pieces of comb using a sharp knife. Four-inch pieces are a good size, but bigger or smaller is fine.

Place each one in plastic containers in a single layer to ensure the bottom comb doesn’t get flattened. Freeze for 1-2 days to kill any small hive beetle or wax moth eggs and larvae.

Cutting comb isn’t just about simplicity. The wax imparts flavors unique to the flowers growing near the hive.

As you may have guessed, plastic foundations won’t work here. You’ll need foundationless or wax frames. Light-colored combs that haven’t contained brood are best for cut comb. 


  • Minimal work involved
  • Visually appealing
  • Beeswax adds local flavor


  • Trickier to eat
  • Increases storage requirement
  • Destroys the comb

3. Gravity method

Difficulty: Low | Cost: Low

The gravity method is similar to crush and strain but doesn’t destroy the comb. It’s a great choice if you only have one of two hives in the bee yard.

Using an uncapping knife, uncap the comb and place it in a clean tray. The honey may take up to 24 hours to slowly seep out, depending on factors like temperature and type of honey.

Macro shot of honey dripping through a sieve as it seeps out of comb cells
The gravity method requires patience.

You’ll need to flip the frame and repeat the drip method on the other side.

Pour the honey through a sieve into a food-grade bucket or container with a honey gate.

This method is time-consuming and less efficient than most other methods because honey remains in the comb. However, the colony will appreciate getting their comb back.


  • Keeps the comb intact
  • Simple method for beginners
  • Low-cost extraction


  • Time-consuming
  • Slow process

4. Chunk honey

Difficulty: Low | Cost: Low

Chunk honey combines raw liquid honey and a piece of honeycomb. Many people enjoy chunk honey because it offers a rustic, natural honey experience.

The honeycomb is edible, and the wax can be chewed or discarded.

Chunk honey looks good and makes for a more authentic product. It’s difficult to adulterate honey while the comb is still present.

A jar of liquid honey with a chunk of honeycomb inside
Comb inside the jar adds a nice visual element.

Making chunk honey requires liquid honey, so you’ll first need to use one of the other methods on this page.

Once you have the liquid honey, place a piece of honeycomb inside a jar. Finally, fill the rest of the vessel with extracted honey.


  • An eye-catching way to jar honey
  • Beeswax adds local flavor


  • In the kitchen, some find comb gets in the way

5. Honey press

Difficulty: Moderate | Cost: Moderate

A manual press for extracting honey from its comb
Click image to view on Amazon.

A honey press is a practical device for slowly squeezing liquid honey from its comb. They can also extract juice from fruit like grapes and apples.

Whether you choose a manual or hydraulic model, both will destroy the comb.

To use a press, place chunks of cut comb into the press bucket. Then turn the T-shaped handle causing the plate to slowly crush the comb.

We did the research and found this press on Amazon is excellent quality and you can choose a size that suits your beekeeping operation.


  • Minimal honey leftover
  • Ideal for Top Bar and Warré hives
  • Use to press fruit like berries and grapes
  • Portable and easy to store


  • Destroys comb
  • Manual models are labor-intensive

6. Flow Hive Method

Difficulty: Low | Cost: High

Those looking for a super-easy method of extraction should consider investing in a Flow Hive. During harvest, the beekeeper inserts a key into the frame and turns it. This splits the cells inside the comb, allowing the honey to flow out of the hive into a waiting jar.

A flow hive with countryside in the background
Flow hives make extraction a simple process.

Flow Hives allow extraction without opening the hive, and the honey bees quickly repair the comb. There is minimal disturbance to the colony, which means less colony stress compared with other extraction methods.

Flow Hives are expensive, but when honey harvest arrives you’ll avoid costly extraction equipment.


  • Easiest method of extraction available
  • Less invasive for the bees
  • Less mess and cleanup
  • Less storage space needed for equipment


  • Expensive up-front cost
  • Comes with plastic frames
  • May attract lazy beekeepers

7. Ross Round

Difficulty: Low | Cost: Moderate

Ross rounds are growing in popularity as they are easy to insert, can be reused, and the honey looks amazing. Add these frames to the hive, and bees make disc-shaped honey sections. Remove them once the honey is capped.

There is no extraction or straining required after harvesting. The rounds can be sold in their current form or consumed at home as regular comb.

The Hogg Halfcomb is a similar product that results in square cassettes. You can buy them from beekeeping supply stores or online.


  • Easy way to get cut comb
  • Beeswax adds local flavor
  • Looks impressive


  • Specialist frames can get expensive
  • Destroys the comb

8. Sous vide

Difficulty: Moderate | Cost: Moderate

A sous vide machine is a modern kitchen appliance that slowly cooks food in a sealed bag in water. Some innovative beekeepers use this piece of equipment to warm the honey slowly. This step allows easy separation of the sweet goodness from the cells.

Closeup of the Anova sous vide device isolated on white background
A sous vide can heat honey, making extraction easy. Don’t overheat though.

Cut a piece of honeycomb and remove the caps with an uncapping knife. Make sure the chunk is a suitable size to fit in the sous vide. Put the comb into a cheesecloth bag and suspend it inside a jar.

Place the jar in a sous vide and heat until the honey warms and flows out. Keep the temperature below 104°F if you want the honey to remain raw.

The Anova Sous Vide on Amazon is an amazing piece of equipment that you can use for this method. It’s doubles as a culinary tool you can use to cook perfectly tender meat and vegetables.


  • Quicker than gravity method
  • Simple method for beginners
  • Low-cost extraction


  • Only processes small quantities
  • Sous vide machines can be expensive
  • Overheating honey will destroy its valuable properties

Recommended reading: As you can see, extracting honey takes a lot of time and effort without the right equipment. Check out the best honey extractors for beginners to get a list of excellent options that won’t break the bank.

9 reasons to extract honey without an extractor

While we encourage beekeepers to use extractors when possible, you may want to avoid using one if:

  1. You are only harvesting a small quantity of honey.
  2. You’re harvesting from hives like Warre or Top Bar.
  3. The frame is damaged and needs replacing.
  4. You’re harvesting the beeswax.
  5. There isn’t time to set up an extractor.
  6. You don’t want to store empty comb over winter.
  7. The comb is old and isn’t fit for reuse.
  8. You won’t return the frame due to colony reduction.
  9. An extractor is too expensive.

Commonly asked questions

Can I eat beeswax?

Beeswax is made from natural bee secretions and is perfectly edible. Some people prefer sucking out the honey, then spitting out the wax, while others enjoy chewing it like gum.

Can I use any press for the pressing method?

While a honey press is best for pressing honey, other models like apple presses and grape presses will also work fine.

What temperature is best for extracting honey?

Ideally, strain honey when the temperature is at least 80°F (26.7°C). When the mercury climbs above 104°F (40°C), the heat will begin to kill the beneficial enzymes and other compounds in the honey. Testing the optimal temperature based on your local floral sources is good practice.

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