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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Greenbrae, CA, USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    I'm curious about the logistics and economics of trucking bees across the country for CA's almond pollination. Can someone fill me in?

    Lets start with a beekeeper in say FL that has a cross-country trip. How do they prevent the bees from leaving the hives in the three days or so I imagine it takes to get there? Are they netted in, or do they block the entrances somehow? Do the trucks drive all day and night to make the trip short, or do they drive by day so the bees don't come out of the hives?

    What about economics? From what I can see, a semi can take about 200 hives (?). So that's 200 times maybe $160/hive, or $32k in pollination fees. My wild guess is that it costs $5k to truck them one-way, or $10k round trip. Toss in another $5k for whatever, so a truckload of bees can net $17k or so to the keeper??

    I understand some people don't truck their bees back, but rather sell them on the west coast.

    Just curious about how the commercial guys think about this stuff.

    Thx

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    9,107

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    I think your estimate of how many hives will fit on a semi is low. Hives are not necessarily all double deeps.


    Here is a couple of threads in the Commercial forum that you may find useful ...
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...trucking-costs
    see post #28 in particular

    also ...
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ant-beekeepers

    Trucks with team drivers can "drive" about 22 hours per 24 hour "day" AFAIK, so stopping with a load of bees can be minimized.

    .
    Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 01-29-2016 at 09:13 PM.
    Graham
    . . . . . . "those who want to see, can see". - - [Oldtimer - 2016]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    2,093

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Current rates are $2.85-$3.00 for a load of bees. You pick the location on each end to figure the mileage and your bill.

    Hive counts run anywhere from 400 on DD to 700+ on singles.

    Your estimate of 5 k one way is a bit short. Sure a lot of Florida beeks would love that small of a charge.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
    Posts
    442

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    I know they lose some bees, because I've seen them coming off the truck, or clinging to the netting as they go down the interstate.
    On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Rupert, Idaho
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    We have been loading trucks out of the cellars for the almonds. We have been putting 408 double deep hives on each truck. We could get more but the weight is really good coming out of the cellar this year so about 408 is what maxes the truck out for weight.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Salisbury, NH
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Out of the cellars?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    6,046

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunday Farmer View Post
    Out of the cellars?
    Lots of northern bees in recent years have been wintering in the potato cellars of Idaho. Temperature controlled and plenty of fresh air pumped into them so it's easy on the bees and ideal for feed efficiency and no fire ant concerns compared to bees from southern climes. Geographically it also works well. The downside in my view may be a lack of any buildup or cleansing flights and related drift upon removal. It's not a panacea, good bees in good bees out, garbage in garbage out.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    13,238

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Lots of northern bees in recent years have been wintering in the potato cellars of Idaho.
    What did they do with the potatoes?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    2,093

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    What did they do with the potatoes?
    Where do you think sweet potatoes come from?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
    Posts
    1,753

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    That's funny. Here I thought they had made a bunch of french fries.

    Jean-Marc

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    2,238

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunday Farmer View Post
    Out of the cellars?
    They must have to dynamite to break through their granite ledge.

    haha.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    2,238

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    What did they do with the potatoes?
    They stacked them in the beeyard.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    2,115

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Air ride trailers only!!! Get the truck up in premium condition - you DON'T want a load of bees broke down in Bumblefork, Minnebraska with a non-beekeeper driver. Nor do you want an unplanned fly-out day into an orchard the day before spraying insecticides.

    Entrances blocked with folded screen. You'll still lose some bees. If your minimum pollinator colony is 6 frames, send 7-framers. I Usually see single deeps with 7 frames of foundation and a 2-gallon feeder in the top box. I screw aluminum straps on all 4 sides to hold them together. Try to piggy back other beekeepers for a full 80,000 lb load unless space is the limit. Each hive / pallet / truck seems to give a different load, but they all max out at 80,000 lbs. It may take 2 truck loads to bring them home - they DO get heavier at the almonds.

    Many yards are best set with a sacrificial pallet under your screened bee pallet, so set them into the truck like that if you know that your set has a mud issue.

    Screen travel tops are a good choice, can be under a jar top if it's still cold, and put net over the top before ratcheting the straps down. I've seen 2 x 4's nailed over the nets. I recommend double straps and 2 x 6's screwed in across the backs of the load. If you're not going to be in the truck, get a CB radio, a cell phone, and a HAM. Have your pick up all ready for an emergency.

    If you have a Class A license and you are driving, plan your stops. You can go a week early and let the bees have 4 flying days over 2 stops if you know where the early flowers are / have permission to park on another beekeeper's property. Those often make good piggyback partners, sometimes team drivers.

    Many don't want to drag a stinger forklift that far, so they arrange for a rental near the site.

    Oh, and BTW, a cab-over-engine truck with a 48 foot slider rig is 48-state legal, otherwise check the states along your route or adjust your route accordingly for a 53 footer with a sleeper. Get insurance on the trip. I'd scale the hives I'm sending and weigh them again after almonds.

    You should look at contract templates with the trucker, and with the almond grower, get everything signed. Have an attorney read over the boilerplate. Use the search box to check the commercial section here on Beesource for threads with boilerplate language. Print those and assemble that which applies to you. Be the first to offer a contract - it's better than signing something the almond grower's attorney wrote.

    Devil's advocate - bringing 10 extra beesuits & smokers in case of spilled beehives could save you your apiary! Getting them all back on board the trailer in 1 night makes all the difference, and that never happens with volunteer help.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 01-30-2016 at 04:16 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Salisbury, NH
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Thank you Jim

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    6,046

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    I have long been told that they come back heavier than they go out but I have rarely experienced that. Some do for sure but they become so brood and bee heavy that they also drop weight rapidly at the end and then you've got your growers that refuse to release them if there is even a tinge of bloom left. We pretty much max out the trucks when they ship out and I only recall one instance where we had a few hives that had to find another ride back east.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Salisbury, NH
    Posts
    461

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Air ride trailers only!!! Get the truck up ipremium condition - you DON'T want a load of bees broke down in Bumblefork, Minnebraska with a non-beekeeper driver. Nor do you want an unplanned fly-out day into an orchard the day before spraying insecticides.

    Devil's advocate - bringing 10 extra beesuits & smokers in case of spilled beehives could save you your apiary! Getting them all back on board the trailer in 1 night makes all the difference, and that never happens with volunteer help.
    All of that for $180

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Strafford County, NH
    Posts
    2,238

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Almond pollination trips sound tremendously complex and risky.

    What % of a year's pay does the trip to California cover? Just wondering how worth it it is for the beekeepers to go through all that.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    33,728

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Quote Originally Posted by bison View Post
    I'm curious about the logistics and economics of trucking bees across the country for CA's almond pollination. Can someone fill me in?

    Lets start with a beekeeper in say FL that has a cross-country trip. How do they prevent the bees from leaving the hives in the three days or so I imagine it takes to get there? Are they netted in, or do they block the entrances somehow? Do the trucks drive all day and night to make the trip short, or do they drive by day so the bees don't come out of the hives?

    What about economics? From what I can see, a semi can take about 200 hives (?). So that's 200 times maybe $160/hive, or $32k in pollination fees. My wild guess is that it costs $5k to truck them one-way, or $10k round trip. Toss in another $5k for whatever, so a truckload of bees can net $17k or so to the keeper??

    I understand some people don't truck their bees back, but rather sell them on the west coast.

    Just curious about how the commercial guys think about this stuff.

    Thx
    17 rows of six 4 way pallets of double deep hives fit on a 48 foot trailer is 408. 17 rows of eight 4 way pallets of story and a half hives fit on a 48 foot trailer. That is 544 hives. 13 rows of six 6 way pallets of doubles (468 hives) or eight 6 way pallets (624) fit on a 48 foot trailer. That last one would be an overload for sure. The thing is, u gotta take into consideration how heavy they are.

    The loads are netted so the bees don't leave the load while in transport. Some times they do drive continuously, when they have two drivers.

    $2.50 to $3.00/mile.

    The commercial guys who do "this stuff" like the money. Commercial means making money at something. What should they think? Obviously they think it's worth the work or they'd do something else.
    "Do Not Fear Taco Trucks" Mark Berninghausen

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    6,046

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    The first pallet is the expensive one, all the others are free.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    33,728

    Default Re: Trucking bees for almonds...how do they do it??

    Quote Originally Posted by NewbeeInNH View Post
    What % of a year's pay does the trip to California cover?
    Every beekeeper a different percentage. And that would be their percentage of income, not "pay" or profit.
    "Do Not Fear Taco Trucks" Mark Berninghausen

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