For any beekeeper, the most rewarding part is finally extracting honey from the combs. However, before you consider extracting the honey, you have to confirm its water content. Honey’s water content will determine how long it will remain fresh. Honey typically has no expiration date, unless it has higher water content. The higher the water content, the lower the quality the honey is. This is why beekeepers aim to only extract honey with lower water content.
Beekeepers should aim for honey with water content less than 20% before considering extraction. However, if the water content is too low, the honey will crystallize. Luckily, modern technology is here to help us. The honey refractometer measures a honey quality so beekeepers know exactly when it’s time for extraction. Every beekeeper should have a refractometer on hand. If you’re looking for the best refractometer for honey, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a list of the top 8 honey refractometers for beekeepers.
If you’re new to using a honey refractometer, be sure to read our upcoming post all about honey refractometers and how to read them.
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If you’re in a rush or just don’t want to scroll through this whole article and all you want is a quick suggestion for the best refractometer for honey, then this section is for you!
After assessing countless honey refractometer reviews from all levels of beekeepers, we found that the MISCO BKPR-4 Palm Abbe Digital Handheld Refractometer may be the best refractometer for you! This honey refractor is arguably the best on the market. Used by government honey inspectors and professional-level beekeepers, this USA-made tool offers its users fast, easy, and accurate results. Unlike most refractometers on the market, this tool is made from top quality materials and offers readings in four scales including honey moisture, honey percent solids, honey-specific gravity, and honey density. If you want the best refractometer for honey, this is the one we recommend.
If the MISCO BKPR-4 Palm Abbe Digital Handheld is not available, then our next best pick would be the Atago 4422 PAL-22S Digital Hand-Held Pocket Honey.
|MISCO BKPR-4 Palm Abbe Digital Handheld Refractometer||Digital Instrument
Stainless Steel Reader
Used by Government Honey Inspectors, Professional Beekeepers
Reads 4 Scales
|Atago 4422 PAL-22D Digital Hand-Held Pocket Honey Refractometer||Digital Instrument
Used by Professional Beekeepers
|Milwaukee MA871 Digital Brix Refractometer||Digital Instrument
Automatic Temperature Compensation
|Rhino Honey Digital Refractometer||Digital Instrument
Automatic Temperature Compensation
Water-proof, shock resistant
|Sper Scientific 300003 Refractometer||Digital Instrument
No Power Source Required
Needs to be calibrated
Includes Carrying Case
|AMTAST Digital Brix Refractometer||Digital Instrument
Automatic Temperature Compensation
|Beslands Digital Refractometer||Digital Instrument
Automatic Temperature Compensation
Requires One Drop of Sample
No power source required
|Vee Gee Scientific BX-3 Handheld Refractometer||Digital Instrument
Manual Temperature Componsation
The MISCO BKPR-4 Palm Abbe Digital Handheld Refractometer is my personal choice as the best honey refractometer. Seriously, this is the only refractometer you will need in your beekeeping career!
This MISCO refractometer offers an LCD with a backlight, a stainless-steel sample well, and a protective color for your honey sample. This American-made tool has a rubber armor jacket that protects it if the handler drops it. The refractometer is very easy to use and automatically calibrates itself to water.
The MISCO refractometer reads 4 scales including:
- Honey moisture
- Honey percent solids
- Honey-specific gravity
- Honey density.
This tool is used by government honey inspectors because of its reputation of providing consistent, accurate honey measures. This refractometer is perfect for professional beekeepers or those looking to grow their honey business.
One buyer noted how well this refractometer was built. They mentioned they were able to use the tool quickly and with ease.
The MISCO refractometer is a top-grade tool that I recommend for any beekeeper.
The Atago 4422 PAL-22S Digital Hand-Held Pocket Honey Refractometer is another great tool that accurately measures the amount of moisture in honey. This is a digital scale that measures the moisture in honey between 12 and 30%.
This device features an automatic temperature compensation (ATC) from 50 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (10-40 degrees Celsius). The tool is water-resistant and made with an ABS resin body for durable and protection from honey. It also has an LED-illuminated display with ELI technology that helps provide a better display when the user is outdoors.
The Atago Honey Refractometer can read samples in 3 seconds. The only downside is that this tool is more expensive compared to other models. Some reviewers of this product are professional beekeepers so they find that it’s worth the investment for a more accurate reading.
The Milwaukee MA871 Digital Brix Refractometer is a portable, digital refractor that with a Brix scale of 0 to 85%. The digital tool uses a digital display so the user does not have to look through an eyepiece. This device features an automatic temperature compensation (ATC) from 50 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (10-40 degrees Celsius). It’s powered by a 9-volt battery that will last around 5,000 readings.
Reviews boast the simplicity of using this device because all you have to do is place the honey sample on the prism and the LED display will show the results. Reviewers love that the calibration holds for a long time. It’s a fairly priced tool for a digital unit. Many reviewers agree that a digital refractometer saves them time and effort when measuring sugar content.
The Rhino Honey Digital Refractometer can be used to measure the sugar content, Baume, refractive index, and water concentration of honey, jellies, jams, and syrups. This great tool features an automatic temperature compensation to ensure accurate readings at 32 – 104°F (0 – 40°C).
The refractometer is easy to use and consistently offers fast and accurate readings. It’s a sturdy tool with a waterproof and shockproof protective shell. On top of that, Rhino offers a two-year warranty.
The Rhino Honey Digital Refractometer takes 2 seconds to provide a reading and is powered on one AAA battery. The kit includes:
- The Refractometer
- 1 AAA Battery
- Plastic Pipette
- Shading Cover
- Carrying Case
- User Manual
- Protective Rubber Covering
- Cleaning Cloth
One buyer boasted that this refractometer was worth the purchase. After using many manual readers, the buyer found this model to have the most consistent and accurate readings. Unlike other models, buyers were impressed by all of the accessories included in the kit.
The Sper Scientific 300003 Refractometer is a highly rated portable tool that does not require a battery or any power source. The tool is ideal for measuring the sugar and moisture content of thick liquids including honey, jams, jellies, and syrups.
This device comes with a hard-carrying case and a calibration tool. It’s easy to use and provides consistent and accurate results. With proper care, Sper Scientific boasts that its tools can last a lifetime. The refractometer requires two small drops of honey for a reading.
Buyers love this refractometer. One buyer noted that this tool replaced an unreliable refractometer. The buyer called the Sper Scientific refractometer very reliable in all ranges and easy to use.
The AMTAST Digital Brix Refractometer is a water-resistant tool that reads the sugar content of honey, jelly, jams, and syrups. The tool can be easily calibrated using distilled or tap water. The tool requires 2 AAA batteries which can provide 11,000 measurements. The tool features automatic temperature compensation at 10 to 75 degree C (50 to 140 degree F).
To use the AMTAST refractometer, simply add 2 to 3 drops of your sample onto the reader. It takes an average of 2 to 3 seconds for the tool to display the results. After the reading, simply place the refractometer under running water.
One buyer noted that this tool works great when they tested pineapples and peppers. Because they move a lot for their work, they especially loved that the refractometer could easily fit in their pocket.
The Beslands Digital Refractometer is an easy tool with a digital display to show users their readings. Unlike other tools, the Beslands refractometer only needs one drop of sample to provide a reading. The portable tool is designed to consume a low amount of power and will power off after one minute of no operation. The offer a high accurate measurement with a resolution of 0.01.
The tool is built to be waterproof, shock resistant and has an anti-loss feature. It also has automatic temperature compensation. The Beslands refractometer does not require calibration every time.
The kit includes:
- The refractometer
- A hard-protective case
- Distilled water (for calibration)
- A sucker
Several buyers are pleased with this product. One buyer loved that this tool was budget-friendly compared to other models yet was easy to use and displayed accurate readings. Another added that the small size made it portable and easy to store.
The Vee Gee Scientific BX-3 Handheld Refractometer is a portable, water-resistant tool with a Brix scale that measures in the 58 to 92% range. The tool is powered by light. The refractometer is protected by a metal body with a rubber jacket for an easier grip. The rubber jacket also ensures the heat from the user’s hand does not affect the results.
It features a manual temperature compensation. The Vee Gee Scientific refractometer is calibrated with a liquid standard. The screen is a bright, high contrast display that is easy to read.
. The kit comes with:
- The Refractometer
- A carrying case
- A plastic transfer pipet
- Instruction manual
On top of everything, the company includes a one-year warranty with their refractometer.
Buyers love this refractometer. It’s easy to use, results are instant, and readings are accurate.
What To Consider When Choosing A Honey Refractometer
When you use a honey refractometer, you will take a small sample of honey from your hive and place it between the measurement prisms. You will look through the eyepiece to determine the Brix measurement. Light passes through the honey and it will refract at a certain angle depending on the density of that liquid. Sugar will increase the density of honey so you can determine the volume of sugar occupied in the honey depending on the angle of refraction.
As a beekeeper, there are several features to consider when purchasing a refractometer:
Buying Feature #1: Instrument Type
You can choose to purchase a manual or digital refractometer. A digital refractometer will have a button to read the sample and the results will be automatically displayed on a digital screen on the tool. A manual refractometer will require the user to look through an eyepiece to determine the Brix measurement.
There are pros and cons to both instrument types. A manual type gives the user control over reading the results while the digital type eliminates human reading error. Your personal preferences and confidence in reading the tool will determine which instrument type is right for you.
Buying Feature #2: Measurement Range
You should know that refractometers tend to display portions of the measurement range and you need to decide how much range you will need. Typically, a refractor will display a sugar content range of 58% to 90%. Why? Because if a refractor displayed 0 to 99%, it would be practically impossible for the user to obtain accurate readings since the scale markings would be extremely small.
When you’re measuring the sugar content of honey, you will want to see results in the higher end of the spectrum. Good honey refractors will show a range beyond 90%.
Buying Feature #3: Temperature Accuracy
When purchasing a refractometer, you need to consider the temperature requirements for testing honey. The refractor index can change with the temperature. A good honey refractor will have an automatic temperature compensation (ATC) feature. With ATC, the tool will report the same value over a wide range of temperatures, typically between 55°F and 85°F. It’s worth investing in a tool with the ATC feature to ensure every honey measurement is accurate no matter the surrounding temperature.
The right technology will ensure that you don’t harvest fermented honey by accident. Refractometers are a great tool that every beekeeper should own. Beekeepers of all levels, from hobbyists to commercial can benefit from having the device. Luckily, there are units on the market that are budget-friendly while there are others that are efficient and easy to read. If you are a beginner, consider your future beekeeping endeavors to determine which refractometer is the right fit for you.
The list of honey refractometers in this article shows the best tools on the market today. These devices were designed with the user in mind as it provides accurate measurements in a clear display. As a beginner, this tool will help you determine the best time to harvest your first batch of honey without risk of it fermenting due to too much water content. If you are an experienced beekeeper, you can have a consistent method for ensuring every hive produces the very best honey.
If you’re still looking for the best refractometer for honey, take a look at this list. Each model is ideal for any beekeeper because they are durable, easy to use, and accurate.
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