I am currently studying product design at A-level. In my final year i am required to design & create a device to lessen the strain on beekeepers backs.
I need to conduct a survey, as i do not know many beekeepers i thought i would ask lots of people all over the world! Do you have the same problems with lifting? Would it be easier if a device was used to lift the hives? Are there any ideas you have come up with to help solve the problem? Or even found some existing products on the market?
If you can help me in any way it will be a great help, e-mail me or leave a post.
Well, there is the TBH. Not that I came up with it of course. When my back gets tierd working my Langs I play with my TB until I am recovered enought to go back to them.
Large commercial operators have their fork lifts and boom trucks. A hobbyist with just a few hives in their home yard could probably build a swinging boom lift for handling and moving supers or whole hives.
There is a device called a Backsaver sold here. It is a two pole, (2x2), bolted on one end to form an 'A' and has a chain with aluminum hooks to attach to the handholds.
It is used to lever the box up and offset them onto a lid or platform on the ground.
I find it too cumbersome to mess with, perhaps when I get older it will be of use. For now I will just move heavy frames one at a time, the lighter boxes are not a problem yet.
One thing I did to make supers lighter was to make them slightly shorter. How much shorter? Well, what I did is designed my own supers that take exactly half a sheet of brood foundation. This way I only have to buy 8 1/2 inch foundation - the size for my brood chambers. When I need super foundation, I just slice them in half.
I use medium suppers for everything. They are not to heavy, next I have the hives on stands and they are 16 - 18 inches off the ground. Saves on bending over all the time.
My dad had first knee surgery on both
knees, then spine surgery, so he could
not lift much of anything. What I did
was buy one of these $99 mini hydraulic
...and attach it to a custom mounting
plate that attaches to his lawn tractor's
trailer hitch. This allows him to lift
supers and brood chambers at whim, place
them on the ground or in the bed of his
pickup truck, and never lift more than 10 lbs.
The homebrew part of the design is a pair of
"ice tong"-like pincers that grip tighter when
subjected to a weight load, and grip the mix
of store-bought handholds, home-made 1x2 grip
bars, and other kludges used in our motley
mix of woodenware.
The "Backsaver" was demoed at EAS 2000 or 2001,
and I found it to be inappropriate for an older
person, given the height and the cantilever force
exerted by a super at a 45-degree angle. (For
those who don't understand the problem, try picking
up a cinder block, then tie the cinderblock to a
garden hoe, and lift the cinderblock from the end
of the hoe handle.)
How to improve it?
The hydraulic crane is overkill for this
application, and is far too heavy itself.
(We hang it from a very sturdy hook in
the garage ceiling, and use the crane itself
to lift the crane up off the garden tractor.)
What is needed is something lighter, perhaps
simply thinner steel.
The hydraulic cylinder itself is also overkill.
Cut some cost by using a smaller one.
Few people are going to pay a machine shop
to make, nor design and dimension plans for,
an adapter flange that attaches to a garden
tractor trailer hitch. This is the real
design problem, and I'm not telling how
I designed my solution, as I don't want
to cause you an ethics problem.
Even if one cannot cut much cost from a $99
crane, a kit consisting of an adapter plate and
a set of jaws for lifting supers would certainly
be of interest to most beekeepers, as none of
us are getting any younger or stronger, and few
of us have the money for "commercial-grade"
lifting solutions. For those who do not own
a lawn tractor, perhaps one would want to
attach it to a car or truck trailer hitch.
The crane is great. If mounted on a flat bed..... how high could it raise the hives? How far out will it reach ?
Do some searches on here for long hives. They were mostly started after seeing or using a TBH. Of course you would have to modify them to your standard boxes. I am going to make a shelf to put my hives on so I no longer have to sqat down to get to them. Because of a back injury my lower back does not bend and I have a weight limit of 50lb. All my hives can be driven close to and the ground is fairly level. A cheap effective mobile/hand lifting device would come in handy. It would need large wheels to make it easy to push. If it is hand powered the gear ratio would have to make it easy to lift. If it was hydralic it would need to be easy to jack as I have a floor jack for lifting car I no longer can use as it is a 3 pump to 15 inches of lift.