View Full Version : How to load/unload drum of honey from pickup truck without forklift?

01-23-2009, 11:03 PM
How can you unload a 55 gallon drum of honey from a pickup truck without a forklift?
I might be able to find someone with a forklift load it onto the pickup truck, but the question is how can I get it off the truck without a forklift? Any ideas? (would be nice to know if there is a trick to load it onto the truck without a forklift too, just in case).

01-23-2009, 11:18 PM
do you have a loader tractor?

01-23-2009, 11:32 PM
I do it all the time -I use a drum cart -tip the drum up on its side with the drum cart -drum needs to have bungs for perfection gate bring drum carte out to the end of tailgate (ontop of ply wood works best) and fill another drum that sets on the ground ;) works for me RDY-B

01-23-2009, 11:41 PM
To improve on the last answer. I buy used clean 4 gallon buckets with lids from a local donut shop, $1.00 ea. Pour honey from honey gate into buckets. You will need 12 or 13. I find the 4 ga. 50lb buckets much nicer when lifting into bottling tank. Getting old.

01-24-2009, 05:57 AM
I have a pipe with a hook to grap top rim on barrel. upset on truck and roll off. same procedure to stand back up. It is where it is unless you have some mechanical way to move it.

01-24-2009, 07:20 AM
Bring it on over I will show ya how to unload it.


01-24-2009, 07:59 AM
If it's crystallized you can roll'em pretty nice. :)

01-24-2009, 08:38 AM
Barrel truck is the easiest and safest method or getting it on its side and rolling it. Just remember it will weight close to 700 lbs so don't get caught under it. Righting it may take two people or you can use a come-a-long.

01-24-2009, 08:54 AM
I used to load barrels of honey with one of these.
The picture shows it hooked to an engine hoist, and that's just how we did it. Raise the drum and back the truck under it. Then use a barrel truck to roll it into position.Slow , but it works.

01-24-2009, 08:54 AM
I used to work at a Shell Oil grease plant and we made a wooden ramp with three parallel boards with a cross brace at each end. We simply rolled the drum down the ramp. We also used a piece of metal strapping on one end so we could connect boards that were two feet long. These boards rested on the tailgate. Don't try to control the drum as it goes down the ramp. Just let it roll.

Ben Brewcat
01-24-2009, 09:30 AM
Or a tommy-gate?

Allen Dick
01-24-2009, 09:42 AM
Without knowing the situation and what tools you have, it is hard to say, but the others have made good suggestions. Let me add that choosing the right terrain is important. If you can back up to a knoll, the drop from the gate is less. Sometimes you can find a spot where the gate is even with the ground, acting like a dock at a truck terminal.

It generally takes two fit men to lay a drum down or pick it up, but I have done it single-handed on occasion. Don't drop it on a hard floor, though, even several inches, if you value the drum. On soft ground, consider that drums are heavy and cart wheels, or even the drum may sink in an be unmanageable.

As described previously, rolling is easy, but, as mentioned, there is risk of being crushed if a drum gets away and starts to roll. Better think how it is going to be stopped. That is where choosing your terrain comes in.

If you have a barrel cart, and can line up a level spot that matches the deck of the truck and back up to it, that is, of course the best.

And, of course many hands can make the job easy, BUT only if they are experienced and co-ordinated. Too often one person winds up with all the weight, since no one knows who is lifting, when, and how much. Sometimes it is better to work alone and take time to plan carefully, rather than have three guys all trying to take charge.

01-24-2009, 09:47 AM
How can you unload a 55 gallon drum of honey from a pickup truck without a forklift?
I might be able to find someone with a forklift load it onto the pickup truck, but the question is how can I get it off the truck without a forklift? Any ideas? (would be nice to know if there is a trick to load it onto the truck without a forklift too, just in case).

If you trust the gasket, lay it on it's side and roll it up a ramp of 2 x 8s. I've seen it done. But you have to strong enough to get it both down on it's side and up again.

How is the person, where this barrel is going to, going to handle it once you get it to them?

It sounds like perhaps you are taking a drum of honey from your honey house to a packer? If so, they aught to have a way to get it off of your truck.

01-24-2009, 10:09 AM
Make sure your ramps can handle the weight. If that board sags with you standing on it, imagine what 700 lbs will do to is.

What ever you decide, I'd definately TEST IT before the delivery truck arrives. You don't want to find yourself rushing around to peice meal something that you've already been working hard to plan for.

For rolling logs, we use a well-honored seaman's and logger's method. Wrap two ropes around the barrel toward the ends. The long end comes from under the barrel and is anchored in the direction you're rolling. the short end is pulled over the top of the barrel. As you pull on the short end, it causes makes friction against the barrel and causes it to roll. If you can use a wench or come-along, attach both ropes to it so they are pulled equally. Papa watched the old seadogs do this on the docks for years. Me- I learned it from old loggers.

Since you're UNloading the honey, you could use our method to control the roll, playing out the long ends to let the barrel roll down the ramps and keeping the barrel on course.

(Incidentally this reminds me of a story: In the military, I rode in an armoured personal carrier; think of a tank. On a training mission, one of the two drive shafts broke (each tank-track has its own drive shaft). To steer this vehicle, you brake against the drive shaft that you want to slow thus turning that direction. To tow the damaged vehicle, we disconnected the other drive shaft to reduce drag. After the mission, we wenched it up onto a flat-bed vehicle hauler to head back to base. When we got to base, Specialist D was put into the driver seat to control it as the mechanics unloaded it. There he sat with his safety helmet on and all buckled in. The mechanics started pushing the vehicle back off the rear-tilted bed. I turn to Sgt W and asked, "how's he going to steer and stop it?" "Well, he'll just pull on the brake handles, you 'moron'." "Weren't the brakes disconnected when we disconnected the drive shafts?" About that time, Spc D goes roaring off the ramp nearly coming off the side of one and rolling down the hill toward a creek. Momentum was Not on his side. It is fortunate for us all that we Had disconnected the other drive shaft, or Spc D would have instinctively pulled both brakes only to slow one side and running himself right off the side of that truck. )

Wee3Bees Apiary
01-24-2009, 02:30 PM
I built a rolling stand which allows me to get a drum off my truck upright without equipment or a friend's help (if you don't want to take the time to ask them) AND I can then roll the stand (with a full 55 or 60 gallon drum on top) around the garage or "honey house" and place it anywhere I want with ease because of the wheels. Here's how... you need a stand, your pickup truck and an eight year old son.

A few years ago, I built a stand about 1 inch shorter than the height of my truck bed. Typically, I move the barrel with a 2 wheel Hand Truck like others have mentioned (I have to borrow it). Other times I simply slide the barrel upright to the tailgate and then slide it onto my Barrel/Drum stand that I built (it is perfectly square and about 4 inches wider than the actual barrel). Yes, this will certainly scratch up a truck bed without a bed-liner (I don't have a liner).

It is fairly easy for me to slide the drum to the edge of the tailgate (it's easier if the truck bed was wet with a water hose first). The bad thing is not being able to get the drum 100% onto the stand (the best I can do is about 60% onto the stand) I don't try this unless the stand is against the garage wall (sandwiched between the lowered tailgate and the wall) because the stand has wheels.

Next, I have my 8 year old son (about 100 pounds) or wife stand on the tailgate while I move the truck forward. This pushes the tailgate and back of the truck down so I won't pull the Drum off the stand since the whole thing's center of gravity is off balance (because it's hanging partly off the stand).

This next step is the only reason that this process works. With the tailgate still down, put 'er carefully in reverse and use the truck's tailgate to slide the drum of honey back until it is centered on the stand. The drum will slide fairly easy if I push it on the metal truck bed by hand, but it doesn't slide worth a darn when I try to push it on the plywood top of my honey drum stand.

However, my truck can certainly push 750 pounds around... cheap is the mother of invention isn't she?:p

Wee3Bees Apiary
01-24-2009, 02:38 PM
By the way, I have been a beekeeper 5 years now and was registered on Beesource prior to the new format change on this website, etc. Years ago I lost my password and couldn't get anyone to reply to me so I could get a new one.

Instead of me continuing to lurk around reading posts, I decided to go ahead and just register with my old name, Wee3Bees. After not being able to post for about 3 years...I'm back (although, I doubt anyone actually missed me...)

I hope my previous post is helpful.

01-24-2009, 03:53 PM
When I was younger and had to haul drums of oil and fuel to a remote site I used a method I learned from the local oil dealer. Laid an unmounted tire casing (passenger car size) flat on the ground behind the pickup and rolled the drum off on to it. The static air in the casing released quickly of course and made a whoosh from the escaping air but there was no damage to the drums. These were bunged drums and not deheadable so can't say if there is a difference in the strength of the lid attaching band compared to sealed drums.
A test with a water filled drum would give you an idea of where to place the tire and how well it would work for you without endangering product. Have seen it done with several tires also but I only used one.
Used a post strapped to the drum to stand it up from horizontal.


Allen Dick
01-25-2009, 06:41 AM
Seems to me that I have done this too, years back, with drums of hard honey, and it can work OK with some careful planning to minimize the drop distance and the potential for an uncontrolled roll.

The choice of tires is key, and a truck tire or a stout 15' car tire would be the minimum IMO for honey, and the honey should not be soft or liquid. If the ground is hard, like concrete, the possibility of an uneven fall must be contemplated, in which case one end of the drum could hit the ground causing a dent, a roll away, or a lid to pop off.

A test with a water filled drum would give you an idea of where to place the tire and how well it would work for you without endangering product. Have seen it done with several tires also but I only used one.

Oil, depending on type is is a little more than half as heavy as honey for the same volume. Water is in the middle. Both are liquids and slosh a bit and can allow a drum to give a bit. Honey can be either rock hard or soft. If hard, it is more likely to act like a billiard ball than a ball of dough. If soft, I would handle with great care, and avoid dropping, since a lid -- no matter how well it seems to be fastened -- may pop off in an impact.

The point being that a drum of honey will fall harder amd roll farther than either of the above, or just lie there and ooze. Don't ask how I know.

01-25-2009, 08:43 AM
The first time I had to do this, I used the drum tipper (link below) and a barrel gate to lay the barrel on its side and get most of the honey in buckets while still in the bed of the truck until the barrel was empty enough to handle easily. The tipper puts the barrel at the perfect height for filling buckets.


01-25-2009, 09:13 AM
Lots of different methods available. This is my first post and is on a subject that brings back memories 30 years ago when I was beyond the point of extracting everything in my garage. We grew big enough were would "borrow" some extracting time and space from a commercial beek close by. I still did all the bottling in the garage so the honey needed to come "home." Without a forklift we tried everything under the sun and most of them were either unsafe for the handler or the honey with most of them plain stupid. (To many close call with dropping or rolling barrels, and or lids popping of while heading down the ramp.) I eventually mounted a big hook on the garage's main beam (6x12) and used either a come-along or similar device to lower the chained barrel down slowly after moving the pickup ahead. It was a slow and tedious process getting the barrel down this way but was by far the safest method I found until we purchased the forklift. You can find something similar to what we used in the Granger catalog #399 on page 1864.