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A hobby for some and big business for others, beekeeping is an activity reserved for a select few willing to take on the responsibility and risk of caring for such delicate (and potentially dangerous) creatures. Most modern beekeepers today rely on a method of beekeeping that utilizes movable frame hives. After the bees build honeycombs into the frames, beekeepers can easily remove them to inspect and manage both the bees and honeycombs. A commercial beekeeper making a profit from selling honey or beeswax will manage anywhere between 1,000-3,000 hives annually. It is a particularly tedious business and one that, surprisingly, requires the use of a specialized detroit forklift to move the framed hives to various locations throughout the apiary.

In the 1980s, Dean Voss, a professional beekeeper in Edmore, Michigan for more than 30 years, yearned for an easier way to transport his bees. Voss created his first prototype of a beekeeping forklift by modifying a mini-wheel loader. He used this type of construction equipment because of its ability to drive on rough terrain without jolting the forks and the driver. Necessity truly was the mother of invention, and Voss continued to modify and sell forklifts to beekeepers for the next 20 years.
After tapping into an untouched corner of the market, Voss eventually decided to retire from beekeeping and devote his time to the design of his specialized forklift. In 2006, he obtained a patent for a beekeeping forklift and the Hummerbee® brand was born.

Today, two major brands dominate the market: Hummerbee® and Donkey®. Beekeeping forklifts are small and maneuverable, with articulated steering, oscillating frames, and high reaching forks. All-terrain tires, 4-wheel drive and better suspension provide beekeepers a smooth ride over rough, grassy terrain. These features are designed to prevent a great deal of disruption to the hives as they are moved. Models even include high reach capacities, additional lighting, all red lighting to clam bees, a white steer wheel to deter loose bees away from the driver’s hands, and an extra high load backrest to provide increased stability.

Whether they are used in a warehouse, construction site or apiary, forklifts are one of the most versatile machines available today. To learn more about beekeeping forklifts or other specialty lifts, browse our forklift inventory or call to speak with a specialist today.

(Operations Manager)

Chris Charles is a 27 year veteran of operations and logistics. Experience included commercial property management and project management for an international shipping company in Maryland.

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