API Blog of the Month

Mathieu Domecq

Editor-in-chief of the API blog of the month

With temperatures fluctuating so much, our regions will never have had such an unpredictable start to the season. The consequence of frosts has reduced the amount of spring honey, so what does that mean for honey this summer? We’re looking at a very short apiculture season! Mathieu, our beekeeper, explains all this in your new API blog of the month.

To be best prepared for next month’s harvest, I suggest you focus on one important thing: choosing your extractor! Here are our tips and tricks to help you.

A very short season!

 “No spring honey” – that’s what everyone’s saying this year. From April, we have experienced nights of frost and sometimes snow in some regions, destroying the flowers. The climate remained cool and rainy throughout May before we encountered an unexpected heat wave!

This represents a significant contrast compared to last year. While in 2020 most flowers were 3 weeks ahead, this spring they are several weeks late.

As a result, colony development stagnated and beekeepers had to feed their bees to help them survive.

Hasn’t there been any rapeseed? Actually, few of these crops have emerged following the drought. This affects around 50% of Marne rapeseed, for example, according to ADA France. Sunflowers are now growing. These are our last chance not to miss the season and make a little bit of progress with our honey, which will compensate for this year’s syrup spend. 

The art of extraction!

Extraction is crucial in beekeeping. Even though we haven’t had the chance to make the most of it this spring, we will still need to gear up for August. Mid-August will be the right time to complete your honey harvests (depending on the region) and quickly afterwards to treat against Varroa.

There are many different extractor models on the market today at all price points. It’s vital to have the right gear.

Perhaps you had spotted some models in your regular beekeeping shop, but the price has put you off? An extractor is a stainless steel device that you will need to use at least twice a year for many years. This makes it a long-term investment. What’s more, with a harvest of 10 kg of honey per year, for each of your hives, at a sales price of €15 per kg, you’ve already earned half of the price of your extractor… in just a season. With several hives, the purchase pays for itself quickly!

What exactly is the extractor used for?

It’s a machine that will help you to extract the honey from the frames of the honey supers to be harvested. Using centrifugal force, the honey from these frames will be ejected onto the walls before it flows through the tap, where it will then be filtered. In just a few minutes, the extraction of a few frames is done. The more hives you have, the more time it’ll take, naturally! Experience speaks for itself…

Your choice of extractor will therefore depend on your colony. Here is my recommendation:

Fewer than 5 hives 5 to 30 hives 30 to 100 hives More than 100 hives
Manual Extractor + 4 frames or combination model Extractor + 9 frames
Motorised Extractor + 18 frames Extractor + 30 frames


For a production of fewer than 30 hives, a manual model with legs (or without legs if you have fewer than 5 hives) will be suitable. If you have only a few beehives, you can choose a combination of the filter and the integrated maturator.

If you are going to expand into colonies, plan to invest a bit more still. For multi-active apiculture, an electric model is really needed, so that at least two supers can be tackled at the same time.

Electric stainless steel extractor for 18 frames with a working uncapping tray.

Radial or tangential model?

Opinions often differ between these two models. Let’s understand the difference together:

The radial extractor, which can be manual or electric, will hold the frames in a circle in the tank like a star. This means that when centrifugal force is actuated honey will flow from one side in one direction, then by reversing the direction of rotation it will discharge the other side of the frame. With the radial extractor, there is no need to change the direction of the frames in the extractor. This is faster and allows many frames to be dealt with in a chamber with a smaller diameter than is possible with the tangential extractor.

It’s worth noting that the radial extractor can become tangential by adding an optional grid system.

The tangential extractor, on the other hand, is said to be better suited for very thick honeys, as these come out better from the alveoli. It works on the basis of a different principle, and it is this system that you will find in the majority of small extractors with a cage. In contrast, the frames will have to be rotated by hand as they are pulled out to change the centrifugal direction. This results in slower and more restrictive operation.

Right, a radial extractor. Left, a tangential extractor (Mat Api).

An electric connection on your extractor will allow it to rotate on its own, effortlessly, unlike the manual, which you will have to rotate yourself, using a crank handle.

How much will it cost? A small manual 4-frame type model is around €250 to €350, a 9-frame extractor will be about €400, and a large-capacity electric model will set you back around €1,000 to €1,500. There are a number of different brands on the market providing good quality, such as SAF, Lega and Quarty.

We wish you a great harvest this summer! And don’t hesitate to share a photo on social media with the hashtags: #apifonda #apiinvert!

Next month, we’re back with your faithful partner, Les Ruchers De Mathieu on your API blog!


Honey & Beekeeping Shop


Photos ©lesruchersdemathieu

Working bee