Education: Different Types of Extractors

Extracting season is sneaking up on us, or for some of us it’s already here! This can be a rewarding time for beekeepers. If the season has gone well there is a sweet reward ready to be harvested.

There are many different ways to extract honey, let’s take a look at the most popular and efficient- the extractor. Extractors come in two different styles: radial and tangential.



Radial extractors situate frames like the spokes of a wheel, allowing both sides of the frames to be extracted at once. Beekeepers looking to extract a decent number of frames tend to prefer radial extractors for their efficiency and ease of use. Radial extractors are available in both crank and motorized.

HH-170 18/9 Frame Hand Crank Extractor
HH-215 18/9 Radial Extractor
HH-215 18/9 Frame Motorized Radial Extractor









Unlike the radial method, extracting tangentially only extracts one side of the frames at a time and therefore requires frames to be turned half way through.

One common type of tangential extractor is the basket style extractor. As previously explained, basket style extractors require you to flip the frames to extract honey from both sides. This type of extractor is available in both hand crank and motorized.

HH-165 Hand Crank 8/4 Frame Extractor
HH-165 Hand Crank 8/4 Frame Extractor
HH-163 Motorized 8/4 Frame Extractor
HH-163 Motorized 8/4 Frame Extractor










It should be noted that most of the types of extractors in this blog post can be either radial or tangential unless otherwise stated.



The most common choice for beginner beekeepers is the manual extractor. Manual extractors are a favorite of beginning beekeepers for their relatively simple operation and lower price point. Manual extractors come in many variations: top crank or side crank, plastic or stainless steel construction and several different frame capacities.

HH-130 2 Frame Plastic Extractor Only- Side Crank
HH-160 Stainless 6/3 Frame Hand Crank Extractor- Top Crank











In addition to the more traditional manual extractors, there are some companies that are coming up with innovative ways to extract honey. Beez Kneez, LLC in Minneapolis, MN invented the Honey Cycle, the first pedal-powered extractor on the market. 

Who says that manually extracting honey can’t be fun? No matter how you extract it, the reward is going to be oh-so sweet!


Unlike the manual extractors, motorized extractors allow beekeepers to take the muscle out of harvesting honey. With the extractor doing all of the work, beekeepers can focus on other extracting tasks such as uncapping the next batch of frames. Motorized extractors also allow you to control the speed of extracting which allows you to extract different types of foundation (ie wax foundation is not as durable as plastic and needs to be extracted at a slower speed).

HH-200 Motorized 6/3 Frame Extractor
HH-200 Motorized 6/3 Frame Extractor











Now that you know the basics of the different extractors, you should know that each extractor varies in how many frames that it can hold at once. Here’s a brief overview of the common size recommendations of extractors in relation to the amount of hives you have:

extractor size recommendations

  • 2 FRAME: Sufficient for beekeepers with 1-2 hives
  • 6/3 FRAME: 10-15 hives
  • 8/4 FRAME: 15+ hives


There’s several variations of extractors available, so there is bound to be one that fits your needs. Now, tell me, what kind of extractor do you like? Is there any advice that you could give to the beekeepers who are new to the extracting process?





8 thoughts on “Education: Different Types of Extractors

  1. Cregg

    What is the distance from ground to bottom of honey gate? Can a 5 gal bucket with strainer fit under it?

    1. Kendra

      Hello, which extractor are you referring to? Each extractor varies.

  2. Ed Schmidt III

    Which extractor will take Layens deep frames?

    1. Kendra

      Hello! At this time, Mann Lake does not have an extractor that will take Layens deep frames.

  3. David Holler

    Nice overview of the different extractors! Can you please tell me what is meant in the descriptions where it states 6/3, or 8/4, or 18/9?

    1. Kendra

      Hello David! The 6/3 frame means that the extractor can radially extract 6 shallow frames at a time or can tangentially extract 3 medium or 3 deep frames at a time. The 8/4 frame means that the extractor can tangentially extract 4 deep, 8 medium or 8 shallow frames at a time. The 18/9 frame can radially hold 18 shallow, 18 medium or 9 deep frames at a time. I hope that helped!

  4. Brian Smith

    What size extractor is ideal for someone who has 3-9 hives. This is where I am at and it not covered on your ranged in the article.

  5. aran

    does the mannlake 48frame extractor with auger take both mediums and deep frames?