120studio.com
March 17, 2015


Background


In the blenders article, I mentioned the Oster Beehive blender.

Is this sub-$100 blender really worth having?  Here I'll answer that question in detail.  As always, my reviews are completely independent;  I either have to buy, rent, or borrow the stuff I review, so I can say exactly what I think of it.  And that's good for you.


A Quick Note

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In This Article


Some Specs

Simplicity Rules

Drawbacks

The Good Stuff

Special Tasks

Conclusion






Some Specs

Blade material:  Stainless Steel
Blades, number of:  4  (2 up, 2 down)
Buttons:  None;  has a toggle switch instead
Capacity:  6 cups with standard carafe (this one has a 5-cup carafe)
Carafe material:  Glass
Carafe thread:  standard Mason jar / Oster thread
Height (overall):   16 inches with lid
Horsepower:  1/2 hp motor
Speed settings:  On, Off, and Pulse
Wattage:  600 watts
Weight:   7 lbs 0.5 ounces with carafe and top




Simplicity Rules

When it comes to kitchen gadgets, I'm always looking for simplicity and function.  I don't want smart refrigerators that try to scan my foods and tell me how much cholesterol is in them (or whatever).  I don't want smart blenders that try to guess what I'm blending and adjust the speed (if that even exists yet;  I try not to pay attention to such things). 

I've said it many times before, but appliances that try to be "smart" can be really dumb.  Their so-called "smart" functions are only as good as (A.) their programming, and (B.) the current state of scientific knowledge, which, umm...

That's not to say there's no use for blenders that have a bunch of different functions, but when it really comes down to it, there are really only two speeds that are absolutely indispensable.  Those are "pulse" and "full speed ahead". 

Let's say you're trying to blend up some bananas, maybe for some banana bread or some baby food.  If you blend too long, you get a thin liquid that falls right off the spoon.  So the best thing to do is just pulse until you get a reasonably uniform consistency. 

If your blender has "pulse", you've got 90% of what a blender really needs.  The rest is just "nice to have".   With any blender, if you jump right to a full-speed setting, it's likely to make a mess.



Drawbacks

There are really only a couple drawbacks to this blender. One of them is the noise, but then again it's no worse than any of the other inexpensive blenders I've used over the years.  Overall it doesn't seem as grind-y as some of the ones I've tried.  It's still loud, though.

The other drawback is that the plastic parts, especially the collar, could be just a tad thicker.  You can easily cross-thread the plastic collar onto the glass carafe (or a Mason jar), which is somewhat annoying.  On the plus side, the plastic collar doesn't seem to jump the threads quite as easily as the plastic on my Hamilton Beach.

Okay, one more thing.  When you first run the Beehive blender, there may be a hint of that burn-y "electric motor" smell.  (Ever had HO-gauge trains or slot cars as a kid?  You know what I'm talkin' about.)  That smell is sometimes a warning sign that an electric motor is going bad, but not always.

Here, I believe it's traces of oil burning off as the motor goes through its break-in phase.  This would be normal.  So mostly, don't worry about it.  If you run the blender a few times and it goes away, then that's probably what it was.



The Good Stuff

I'm glad to see this blender has stainless steel blades and an all-metal drive system.  And it doesn't use a bunch of fancy electronics that would just go bad anyway. 

I'm also very glad to see that Oster has made a blender with a glass carafe, a standard Mason jar thread, and a toggle switch.  Thank you, Oster. 

Their customer service reps seem to be very knowledgeable about the products, which is more than I can say for a number of other companies. 

So, why not get a Vitamix, or the Oster Versa, which competes with the Vitamix?  For me the answer is simple:  that Mason jar thread.  Yep, it's that important.   The Oster Beehive has that thread, while the Versa and the Vitamix don't.  (Probably, that's because the very high speeds require special carafe design for safety.)  If you make small batches of stuff, like salad dressings or banana purees, the Mason jars are great for storage. 

I won't suggest that plastic would cause biological meltdown if it touches your food for just a second.   At the same time, though, it's important to realize that mere nanograms or picograms of endocrine disruptors can be dangerous.  Ever contemplated the size of a nanogram?  You're not going to weigh that on a laboratory scale.  In fact you're not even going to see that.  (Heck, you can't even really see a microgram.)  Endocrine disruptors also bio-accumulate, being lipophilic.  And sometimes the effects don't materialize for years.  Nice, right?

Low-acid, low-fat foods at cold temperatures are unlikely to pose a problem in most plastics, but I still prefer glass for food containers.  And thankfully, the market offers a choice. 

Besides... when you can see tomato sauce getting embedded into plastic from one use, you have to ask yourself:  if that's going into the plastic so easily, then what's leaching out of it?   With glass, you don't even have to wonder.  It's a lot more inert toward food materials.  And it doesn't become all nasty and hazy from a few uses.  Plastic is recyclable, but so is glass.  Yay for ancient technology (3,000 BC, I think, for glass).



Special Tasks


I tried this blender for making green smoothies.  It works.  If you blend for a while, there are no big chunks of kale.  However, there may be some small bits that stay up near the top because they don't get pulled into the vortex.   Gradually, even these will go away if you run the blender for a while.

This blender is fast enough to turn granulated sugar into powdered sugar.  Maybe it's not as quick as you'd get with a super high-end blender, but that's OK. 

It can also make breadcrumbs or chopped walnuts, here a bit more easily than powdered sugar.  I actually think the lower-rpm blade is better, because it shouldn't produce as much heating or oxidation of the food materials.

You can also grind coffee beans and just about anything else that could be done in a coffee grinder.

Another use is for turning medium-grind "corn meal" into actual corn meal that's useful.  (I say that because there's one popular brand that's organic, but the grind is too coarse.)

Does the Oster Beehive do everything that a Vitamix or a Blendtec can do?  No, but it can do a lot.  And it's much lower-cost. 


 

Conclusion


The Oster Beehive is a simple design with fewer things to go wrong.  It has enough power to crush ice.  It blends fast enough to make green smoothies;  maybe not as well as a high-end model, but it works.

The glass carafe provides a relatively inert surface for foods, and that's important to many buyers.

The Beehive is loud, but it's not really any louder than 90% of the other blenders on the market.  (Actually, it's been a long time since I've found a blender that I would rate as "quiet".) 

Most blenders under $100 have reliability issues, but in this price range, the Beehive is probably the least likely to fail.  Because of that, as well as its features and price, I would choose this blender over many (if not all) other models.  If you don't care about Mason jars and you want more power, then get one of these by Oster.  However, there's a reason why the Beehive is still being manufactured after sixty or seventy years.  Pick one up through this link and add this simple, versatile tool to your kitchen.  You can get spare carafes and other accessories very easily, which is yet another reason to get this one.

If you found this article helpful or entertaining, please help me out by purchasing your blender (or anything else) through the links on this page.  It's the only thing that allows me to keep this website going and bringing you useful articles like this one.   Thank you!



              

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