Best Honey Refractometers For Beekeepers In 2024

A beekeeper looking into a honey refractometer with beehives and meadows in the background

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Making honey is hard work for beekeepers and even more grueling for the honey bee. You want to be confident that the moisture content is right before extraction, or you may get fermented honey.

A honey refractometer is a simple tool often overlooked by the beekeeper. But adding one to the kit means you’ll never extract honey too early. It’s also a must-have tool for commercial apiaries looking to sell their product.

We spent hours researching and testing the best honey refractometers to identify which were superior. The DiFluid Ultimate Digital Refractometer is our top recommendation as an excellent all-rounder. It’s innovative and provides the ideal balance of price and performance.

Here’s a quick snapshot of our three favorite choices:

Editor's Pick
DiFluid Ultimate Digital Refractometer

An easy-to-read, accurate digital refractometer that can log data on your mobile.

Best All-Rounder
RR1090 Multi Scale Digital Refractometer

A U.S. made refractometer that is easy to use and logs results to the cloud.

Best Budget
Aichose Brix Meter Refractometer

A simple device ideal for small-scale beekeepers wanting an entry-level tool.

Top 5 honey refractometers

Beekeepers looking for a high-quality honey refractometer should consider the DiFluid Ultimate or the Atago 4422 PAL-22S. They offer precise digital moisture readings that meet industry standards. If you’re on a budget, the Aichose and Smartsmith models are excellent options.

Below is our comprehensive list of the best honey refractometers available, along with their features, specifications, pros, and cons.

1. Aichose Brix Meter Refractometer

Closeup shot of an Achiose refractometer next to a blob of honey

The Aichose Brix Meter Refractometer is a 3-in-1 tool that measures moisture, Brix, and Baume. Its water content range is 12-37%, which is ideal for checking honey, molasses, or maple syrup.

Aichose refractometers are simple devices that novices will operate with ease. Automatic Temperature Compensation (ATC) is a handy feature that adjusts the results based on the current temperature.

The Aichose has a robust design that will take the bumps. Although it should be kept in its case, the occasional knock won’t stop the refractometer from providing valuable results for beekeepers.      

  • Robust tool
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • No batteries needed
  • Calibrating oil not included
  • Tricky to read in poor lighting 

2. RR1090 Multi-Scale Digital Refractometer

RR1090 Multi-Scale Digital Refractometer

The RR1090 refractometer is a digital device that uses proprietary FresnelZoom technology to give beekeepers super-accurate data.

Made in the United States, this solidly built tool is easy to use. Add a few drops of honey to the plate and get precise results in seconds.

Beekeepers that find analog testers hard to read will find the RR1090 easy to read. An oversized water content percentage is hard to miss, while a smaller temperature readout provides helpful information.

We found the Bluetooth connectivity easy to use thanks to the RRTool mobile app. The data we collected was logged into a Google sheet for analysis.

  • Quality tool that's made in the U.S.
  • Log data to a spreadsheet
  • Results are accurate and easy to read
  • Includes Brix, salinity, specific gravity, and more
  • Less affordable than some options
  • No extras like a protective case or cleaning cloth

3. Atago 4422 PAL-22S Digital Honey Refractometer

Atago 4422 PAL-22S

The Atago 4422 PAL-22S honey refractometer is a handheld digital tool for measuring honey moisture. It is a high-performance device for beekeepers that demand accurate results fast. This tool provides a reading within 3 seconds of adding the sample, which is useful for apiaries with many frames to check.

Made from acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), the Atago pocket refractometer is built tough. It is also waterproof and dustproof, ideal for typical conditions around hives.

Our favorite feature of the Atago 4422 PAL-22S is its digital display which is LED-illuminated. Although some refractometers are hard to read (especially for those with glasses), this screen is super-easy to get a reading.

Another helpful feature of the Atago refractometer is the external light interference system. It monitors for excessive light penetrating the prism, which can lead to false readings. On sunny days, beekeepers will appreciate these alerts.

  • Simple tool to operate
  • Precise measurements
  • Easy-to-read screen
  • Built for rugged conditions
  • Ergonomic grip
  • Includes protective case
  • Needs batteries
  • Less affordable

4. Smartsmith Refractometer

A Smartsmith refractometer on white background

The Smartsmith refractometer is an entry-level option for beekeepers on a budget. It measures Baume and Brix but is best suited to calculating honey moisture.

This tool offers excellent value for money. The pack also includes a cleaning cloth, protective case, and instruction manual. They also include three droppers for adding honey samples to the face plate. Beekeepers forever losing or damaging these droppers will appreciate having the extras.

Smartsmith refractometers are a good choice for beekeepers that want a basic unit with reasonable accuracy. We found the readings were slightly off after calibrating; however, the tool has over 1000 positive reviews on Amazon, so it’s a worthy contender for this list.

  • Includes protective case
  • Excellent value for money
  • Easy-to-use tool
  • Viewing the readout is a challenge
  • Readings aren't as accurate as higher-end products

5. DiFluid Ultimate Digital Refractometer

DiFluid Digital Refractometer

The DiFluid Ultimate Digital Refractometer is an innovative, pocket-sized device for checking water content in honey. It will appeal to beekeepers wanting to step up from low-cost analog products but not wanting to fork out several hundred dollars.

Our tests found the DiFluid refractometer provided quick, precise readings that were easy to read thanks to an OLED display. It connects to a mobile app via Bluetooth, which makes recording moisture readings and temperature quick and easy. Beekeepers who often look back at data will love this feature.

The DiFluid has a USB charger, and you’ll get up to a month of use from a one-hour charge. More extensive apiary operations will need to recharge more regularly.

Beekeepers working in rainy climates will appreciate the tool’s waterproof design. It can be washed under a tap, but avoid submerging it in water.    

  • IP67 waterproof design
  • Small enough to slide into a pocket
  • Precise results and easy-read screen
  • Record data using their app
  • Easy battery recharge using a USB
  • External light compensation technology
  • Hard to use with beekeeping gloves
  • Mobile app insights are confusing

Other notable honey refractometers

Although we haven’t tested the following refractometers, they all look like excellent products based on customer reviews. If you decide to buy a refractometer in-store, then give them some consideration.

We tried to buy them online, but they’ve been consistently out of stock.

  • Vee Gee Scientific BX-3 Handheld Refractometer
  • Rhino Digital Honey Refractometer
  • MISCO BKPR-1 Palm Abbe Digital Handheld Refractometer
  • FJDynamics Digital Brix Refractometer
  • Milwaukee MA881 Digital Refractometer

Honey refractometer buying guide

If you’re looking for the best honey refractometer, it’s essential to consider the tool’s features. Here is what to look for when comparing different models.


The accuracy of a refractometer is crucial when measuring the water content of honey. Look for one that provides precise measurements to ensure you don’t end up with fermented honey.

Type of screen

Refractometers with large digital screens are much easier to read. Although they typically cost more, beekeepers will find them a huge benefit in low-light conditions. They’re also quicker and easier to get results at a glance.


There are a vast number of refractometers that measure different liquids. Make sure the refractometer you choose has an appropriate range to measure the water content of different types of honey.

Automatic Temperature Compensation

Results aren’t always accurate if the device doesn’t allow for temperature change. Tools incorporating ATC technology are a good option for beekeepers wanting highly accurate readings.


The device you choose needs to feel comfortable in your hand. Also, check that it is made to take a few knocks. If you’re beekeeping in areas prone to dust, rain, or extreme temperatures, ensure the refractometer is fit for purpose. 


Price is always a consideration when making a purchase. While it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, remember that a higher-quality refractometer may be a better investment in the long run.


Check the warranty offered by the manufacturer for peace of mind. It will protect your investment in case of defects or issues with the product.

Types of Refractometers

There are several types of refractometers, including:

Analog handheld refractometers: the most common type of refractometer and are used to measure the refractive index of a liquid sample. They are simple to use and typically have a built-in scale to read the refractive index.

Digital handheld refractometers: similar to analog handheld refractometers but have a digital display for reading the refractive index. These tools are generally more accurate than analog refractometers.

Abbe refractometers: benchtop instruments that measure the refractive index of a liquid sample. They are more accurate than handheld refractometers and are often used in research and quality control applications.

In-line refractometers: installed in a process line and continuously measure the refractive index of a liquid sample. In-line devices are commonly used in the food and beverage industry to monitor sugar concentration in a liquid.

Automatic refractometers: similar to in-line refractometers but are fully automated and can measure the refractive index of multiple samples at once. This technology is prevalent in high-throughput laboratories and production environments.

How we tested the best honey refractometers

Searching for the top refractometers is no easy feat. There are loads on the market, so our small team couldn’t possibly test them all. Here’s how we approached the task.

Research: To create our initial shortlist, we start by reaching out to our friends on forums and social media. Groups like Beekeeping for Beginners and Youtube video reviews provide a wealth of advice and opinion from experienced beekeepers. We combine that knowledge with the experience of our editor, Prudence, to get a useful list of contenders.

Field testing: We test out each tool on a range of honey products, allowing for some valid comparisons between each model. Each product is judged on accuracy, ease of use, durability, weight, and price.

Editor's Pick
DiFluid Ultimate Digital Refractometer

An easy-to-read, accurate digital refractometer that can log data on your mobile.

Best All-Rounder
RR1090 Multi Scale Digital Refractometer

A U.S. made refractometer that is easy to use and logs results to the cloud.

Best Budget
Aichose Brix Meter Refractometer

A simple device ideal for small-scale beekeepers wanting an entry-level tool.

Summing up

Honey refractometers are an afterthought for many beekeepers. However, most agree it’s money well spent once added to their tool kit.

If you want a basic, low-cost gadget for measuring honey moisture, then the Aichose or Smartsmith refractometers work well. The DiFluid Ultimate, Atago 4422 PAL-22S, or RR1090 Multi-Scale Digital Refractometers are great options for beekeepers wanting a more advanced, high-quality device.

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