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Sometimes, the classics should be left in peace. Case in point: the Oster Beehive blender, a 21st century version of the original 1940s Osterizer. The old version was built like a tank with a metal base and a rounded jar designed to cycle food toward the blades. This new one aims to mirror the original's retro simplicity and sleekness, but that illusion of a classic reborn fades quickly: The chrome-colored base is actually plastic, and the jar has been squared off so it no longer actually looks like a beehive.
I have no idea why they squared off the container. It doesn't make it easier to handle or more visually appealing than any rounded model we have in the office, and it hinders the blender's ability to cycle through foods while working. In fact, the Oster Beehive needs assistance completing even basic tasks like smoothies, and you can forget about any food-processing levels of multitasking. It failed all of our stress tests.
Even at $60, the Oster Beehive is less sturdy than its classic namesake, and less capable than any other modern blender we've tested. If you're looking for a budget blender, consider the $40 Hamilton Beach Smoothie Smart Blender instead.
Design and features
Sixty dollars is an extremely reasonable price for a blender, given that the Vitamix 7500 costs $529 and even the midrange Ninja Ultima is $259. If you're in the market for a budget appliance to make simple smoothies for little, you can purchase the Oster Beehive in a variety of colors, such as metallic red, blue, or a classic-looking brushed stainless steel. You can also decide if you want a 5 cup or 6 cup jar. Both are made of dishwasher safe glass.
Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Bed Bath and Beyond all have the Beehive available for purchase, as does the Oster website. The price varies somewhat based on the model and retailer, but all versions can be found for less than $100. In the UK, the Beehive costs £270 from Amazon. It retails for about AU$97 but can be found online for less.
For a blender with a base price of $60, the Oster Beehive Blender looks good. I worked with the 5-cup version with the metallic silver finish for the review. The jar and base are lightweight and easy to maneuver. Cleverly, the sturdy handle can be turned in either direction when the container rests on the base, allowing you to easily grab it whether you're left- or right-handed. The glass jar is tempered, so supposedly you can clean it in the dishwasher, use it to blend hot soup, or put it in the freezer without cracking the casing.
The switch on the base features the Osterizer name and lets you turn it on by flicking up, or pulse by pushing down. Assembly can be completed within minutes. You'll place the foam sealing ring on the bottom of the jar, followed by the blades that stick out of a metal lid. Then, you'll secure both pieces with a plastic cap that screws onto the bottom of the container. Place the jar onto the 600-watt base by quickly fitting it onto the protruding spindle. Plug it in and you're ready to go.
Just make sure you put on the lid and the small feeder cap for adding ingredients while blending. I forgot this cap the first time I turned on the machine and got a nice face full of sudsy water. After I thanked the Beehive for waking me up and finished cleaning up the mess, I got to blending. During the testing, I continued to appreciate the option to clean the Beehive by blending sudsy water. It worked well, and I never forgot the feeder cap again.
Of course, you can clean the lid and jar in the dishwasher. Only the motorized base shouldn't be submerged, but food won't often contact that unless you spill, and the sealing ring works well to prevent leaks. Thus, an occasional wipedown will do for the base. The turnaround from blending, to cleaning, then back to blending was always quick throughout my tests.
I would have liked more speed options on the dial, though. The Beehive is simple, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it is lacking the convenient presets offered by many other modern blenders such as puree or dice. Here, I understand the impulse to call back to the original Osterizer, and the dial mirrors it exactly. Turning it on and pulsing is enough for most blending needs, the functionality stays simple, and the price stays down. Plus, since the Oster Beehive blender is only working with 600 watts, going less than full speed might not have been productive at all.
What I don't understand is why they mirrored the old version on the dial, but deviated from the classic rounded shape that gave the Osterizer its Beehive name. The squared jar works against this modern machine in every way. Any thickness to the foods you're trying to blend will cause it to get stuck. Be prepared to stir or shake anything you want evenly mixed with this machine. It won't be able to reach the top layer otherwise. The squared shape simply doesn't let it create an effective cycle.
Because of that, even once you get the blender to process everything, you might still find chunks stuck to the sides or under the blades on the bottom. Without the ability to move food along on its own, small pieces would sometimes rest on a squared side, then act like a rock accumulating sediment in a slow-moving river. Especially after the pancake batter test, designed to check for just this sort of thing, I had to scrape off large amounts of untouched mix at the end of each round.
Plenty had accumulated on the bottom of the jar as well. Without a steady stream to keep the particles moving, chunks would find a way to come to rest beneath the spinning blades. They aren't angled well enough to reach the axle or the corners.
Though the Oster Beehive blender looks good, several flaws like the squared jar and inability of the blades to reach the bottom of the container betray its inherently cheap design. The first hint of this is that fake-metal base. Then, though the pieces are easy to assemble, the top doesn't create a firm seal on the jar, even with the feeder cap in place.
Additionally, the bottom rests easily on the base, but it doesn't snap securely in place. This allows you to turn the handle, but also results in some wobbles while blending. You'll also occasionally smell a metallic burning when running it, meaning that even though the power should max at 600 watts, some of that energy is being wasted without a tight fit from the jar to the base.
When it starts rotating slightly as it blends and wobbles, you know for sure you need to keep your eyes on it, and it certainly never gives you peace of mind while it works. Most of these fitting flaws are nitpicks, sure, but they add up to a loss of confidence in the capability of this machine, a loss of confidence that's only cemented as the squared sides and poorly positioned blades leave chunks of unblended foods behind.