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Loading the Tractor-Trailer
From South Carolina to New York, April 27, 2001

The Best Laid Plans....
Many days of preparation are frustrated by a small detail. Bees should be loaded early in the coolest part of the day to reduce stress and losses of flying bees. We are ready at 5:30 AM to start loading. But a nail in the tractor trailer tire prevents our commencement. First we have to find a repairman!

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Our trucker is dismayed to have a flat in a nearly new tire. In a small town, far from the Interstate, we cannot find help until 8 AM The mobil truck from Buddy's Truck Repair in Johnsonville finally arrives with a new tire. The tire is quickly changed and we soon are headed for the hayfield loading yard Our  truckers, Todd and Chris: they will drop the trailer and head for breakfast and a good spot to get some sleep.


Getting Underway
Finally ready, we must now load anyway, even though it is mid-morning, and bees are beginning to fly. It could be worse! At this time of year temperatures could be in the eighties or nineties. But this morning is cool. After an overnight low in the high forties, it is now headed for 70 F for a daytime high.

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Chuck guides the trucker to the best position for loading The trailer is quickly jacked up and disconnected. Barrett begins smoking the hives to calm them for the handling, and to stop flight as much as possible. Chuck stacks pallets on top of each other with his Gehl skid-steer loader Missy, the bee dog, pays little attention, as Chuck loads the truck. Later, she'll lie under the truck, when the bees get more active.


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As the loading progresses, more and more bees take to the air, looking for flowers despite the disturbance. Occasionally Chuck will hop on the truck to straighten out a mispositioned pallet. Many of the hives have old inspection stickers, no longer used. But hives still must be inspected for parasites and disease prior to interstate travel. A certificate is issued by the state inspector. Intense concentration and a lot of skill are required to get a well stacked load that will not shift en route. Again and again the process is repeated, until the truck is full.


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Time for Chuck to climb on top and unroll the nets. Bee flight by now is getting heavy. The net is carefully spread out. Chuck is careful not to step too close to the edge and roll off the truck. With Barrett helping from the bottom, the nets are distributed evenly over the load. Spacers are placed on each tier of pallets to distribute the pressure of the straps, and keep hives from shifting. Where's home? Pollen-laden returning bees can no longer find home. They will not be lost. Extra hives are left at the site to give them a home.


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The skidder makes a handy freight elevator to carry heavy things like nets and tires to the top of the load. Barrett puts some muscle into the strap ratchets, until you can play a tune on the straps. Chuck checks for any gaps in the netting and closes them with a strip of lath nailed to the wood behind.


Kutik's Honey Farm
285 Lyon Brook Rd. Norwich, NY  13815   607-336-4105, Fax: 607-336-4199
(February through May, we are usually in South Carolina 803-473-4205)

This page was last updated on February 4, 2012.