How to Tap a Birch Tree


While maple trees have a monopoly on the syrup market, birch trees also produce a sticky sap that can be collected and boiled. According to the University of Minnesota, birch sap is less sweet than maple sap, which is why it isn't commercially harvested. Whereas maple sap flows only during the day, birch sap flows both day and night. Tap birch trees in late winter after carefully monitoring the weather conditions.

Step 1

Drill a hole into the birch trunk 3 feet off the ground, using a brace and a 3/8-inch drill bit. Angle the hole slightly upward so the sap will naturally flow out. Make the hole 1-1/2 to 2 inches deep.

Step 2

Fit a spile (a special metal peg used for tapping trees) into the hole. Tap the spout edge of the spile with a hammer to work it into the tree.

Step 3

Hang a 3-gallon bucket from the spile to catch the sap using the hook on the end of the spile. Sap required the right weather conditions to flow; frost temperatures followed by days with 40 F temperatures are ideal to get the sap flowing. Sap buckets come with a hole that you can use to hang the bucket; if you're not using a special sap bucket you'll need to create a small hole on the upper lip of the bucket.

Step 4

Cover the bucket to prevent rain water or other debris from falling into the sap. Hang any other buckets in this manner, then check your buckets each day for sap.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use the same hole from year to year; always drill a new hole in the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Brace
  • 3/8-inch drill bit
  • Spile
  • Hammer
  • 3-gallon bucket with lid


  • Clermont College--University of Cincinnati: How to Tap Maple Trees for Syrup
  • University of Minnesota: Maple Sugarbush Questions & Answers
Keywords: tap birch tree, harvest birch sap, birch syrup

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.