What Is A Cappings Spinner? An Essential Guide

Closeup of someone uncapping honeycomb, ready to add to a cappings spinner

As apiary hive numbers grow, so too does the collection of wax cappings during honey extraction. Beekeepers can increase yield by using specialized equipment to help separate the liquid from the wax.

This article looks at the cappings spinner and how it increases efficiency in the honey room.

What is a cappings spinner?

A cappings spinner is a piece of beekeeping equipment that separates leftover honey from wax cappings. It uses centrifugal force, like an extractor, to spin out the remaining honey. An inner basket collects dry material while the liquid runs into a collection container below.

Beekeepers can maximize their honey harvest using this tool. After processing, the leftover wax is ideal for candles, lip balms, or other bee products.

Another use for a cappings spinner is cleaning up thick honey with lots of wax. Running it through the machine is a fast way to process it before straining.

Steps to use a cappings spinner

Separating honey from its wax cappings typically includes these steps:

  1. Uncapping the honeycomb: Slice off the wax cappings on each frame using an uncapping knife. Collect all the wax in a container.    
  2. Load the machine: Tip the collected cappings into the machine’s barrel. Some beekeepers cut them directly into the machine, skipping step two.
  3. Spinning: Close the lid and begin spinning until the solids are dry. The waiting time varies, but beekeepers may leave the motor running overnight. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions, as performance varies by machine.
  4. Strain: Pour the honey through a sieve to collect any remaining solid bits like bee parts and wax particles.

That’s about all there is to it! Spinners have a honey gate or valve at the bottom to transfer the honey. The beeswax should have a much lower moisture content, making it better for melting down and repurposing.

Tip: If the spinner starts wobbling and shaking, a common reason is that the load isn’t balanced. Stop the machine, then shift the wax so that it is evenly distributed.

An apiary worker uncapping honeycomb before dropping them into a capping spinner.

Pros and cons of a cappings spinner


  • Time saver
  • High yield
  • Low mess
  • Filter heather honey


  • Expensive
  • Some models won’t remove all the honey
  • Requires additional storage space

How does a cappings spinner help with heather honey?

Heather honey comes from bees that have foraged heather blooms. It has a distinctive flavor but is thixotropic. That means it has a thicker consistency and does not flow freely at room temperature.

To extract heather honey, one method involves pricking the comb and removing it with a tangential extractor. Filtering is slow work, so a wax cappings spinner helps. You can extract the honey, then run it through the spinner to remove any solid matter.

What size bee operation will benefit from a cappings spinner?

A cappings spinner is a solid investment for medium to large apiaries aiming to maximize honey yield and speed up processing time.

As a rule of thumb, bee yards with fewer than ten hives won’t get a sufficient return on their investment. Equipment cost will outweigh the marginal gains in honey yield and processing speed.

Operations with over ten hives will enjoy a higher return on investment.

Cappings spinner vs. extractor

Honey extractors draw out honey from frames using centrifugal force. Their job is to remove the bulk of the honey for bottling. You can discover our favorite extractors here.

A cappings spinner separates residual honey from its wax cells. After extraction, the cappings are placed in a spinner to remove any remaining honey.

What to do with wax cappings after extraction?

Candles: One of the most traditional uses of beeswax is to make candles. Beeswax candles burn long and give off a mild aroma.

Cosmetics: Beeswax is a common ingredient in cosmetics and skincare products. Use it to make lip balm, body lotion, salves, and soaps.

Furniture polish: Used for various crafts or as a natural wood polish, it provides a shiny, protective coating.

Beeswax wraps: Beeswax wraps are a reusable, eco-friendly alternative to plastic cling wrap. Use them to cover bowls and wrap sandwiches.

Returning to hives: Return wax to the bees; this will give the colony a head start creating new honeycomb.

Commonly asked questions

Is there a manual alternative to using a capping spinner?

While there are manual alternatives to cappings spinners, they typically require more time and effort. A straightforward method involves placing the cappings in a bag and allowing the honey to drip out slowly over several days. While less efficient, slow-dripping is a practical alternative for small-scale hobbyists.

What are wax cappings?

Wax cappings are thin layers of beeswax that honey bees create to seal off honey in the comb cells. Once the honey reaches its desired moisture levels, bees cap the cell to preserve their food source until needed.

Use one of our recommended honey refractometers to better understand when honey is ready for extraction.

What are the best wax capping spinners?

Maxant, Dadant, and Lyson are all trusted manufacturers of beekeeping equipment. Their wax cappings spinners have excellent reviews from past customers.

What is the typical cost of a cappings spinner?

Popular U.S. manufacturers sell junior capping spinner machines ranging from $2,300 to $3000. Bigger, more advanced units may set you back $15,000 or more.

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