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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I am new to the Bee business and I have a question. how do most People transport bees? all I have seen are the Flatbeds with a net over them. the reason I ask is that I have an idea that they could be transported in a refrigerated trailer with the temperature turned down and they would kind of go into hibernation mode. this would be much easier on the bees for travel. the downside is that loading/unloading would have to be at the back of the trailer and you would have to use a pallet jack to move the bees to/from their location in the trailer to the back of the truck. with it being 36 degrees in the trailer would they stay dormant enough to allow this to happen without too many angry bees? this would also allow transportation in warmer weather. any advise would be great. as I am in the market for a trailer right now and need to know what to look for.

Dustin
 

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Bees are in refrigeration terms "an active load". this means that they generate heat, so to cool them to a given temperature you need enough cooling to make up for what heat is coming in through the walls of the trailer, but also for the heat coming from the bees.
Not an insurmountable problem, but you will need to take it into account when sizing the refer unit.
Sorry, I don't know how much heat load bees have, but it will vary by how many bees are in the trailer.
You will also need enough capacity to cool them down from whatever the outside temperature is.
 

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This question has come up several times before. Search "refrigerated truck" and check through the threads for some ideas.
 

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Preventing them from flying could probably be complished by screening the openings.

But another issue is this: bees aren't frozen spinach or air-cooled berries. They are "chilled out" by low temps, but not hibernating, even in temps as low as the minus numbers F. I found here during the winter (northern NY on cold sunny days when some hapless bugs would fly out by mistake) that they were cold-stunned (individually) in temps below about 40F and some, but not all, could recover (at least become moving again, not sure of their health status afterwards) if quickly rewarmed in my hand. Whether that adventure shortened their lives, I don't know, but the metabolic stress of being cold-stunned probably doesn't do them any good. They stay alive in cool or air cold temps by clustering within the hive in a complex manner. Their lives depend on the intactness of the cluster and travel or jolts bumps which broke up the cluster during low temps when they can't readily re-from that cluster might be lethal in the end. It can take hours for a cluster to reform, longer as air temps get colder.

It seems extraordinary to me that bees travel around the country so much, routinely.

Enj.
 

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Welcome to Beesource!

Bees can certainly be transported in a climate controlled trailer. Here is a photo of Olivarez bee packages being readied for such transport ...


Image linked from this page: http://www.ohbees.com/gallery.php?gazpart=view&gazimage=164


Whether or not it is cost effective to transport full-sized palletized hives in reefer trailers is not so clear. I think most migratory hives move via flatbed. Added tare weight for a box trailer/reefer unit likely means less available capacity for transporting bees in each load.
 

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Transporting hives in refrigerated truck vans has been done. Most people don't find it worthwhile. For one thing, you better have two units in case one breaks down. Transporting under nets is easier and well known.
 

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And then there is the CO2 that you have to get rid of. each on of these packages give off the same heat as a 20 watt light bulb. so you have to keep enough fresh air coming in to keep the CO2 levels down and cool them as well. It is not a easy task that is why as soon as they are loaded they hit the road to get air flowing over them. If you had a side shot of this truck you will see they have fans on the lower back side and sliding vents along the length of the truck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you for all the replies... some with things I hadn't thought of, another problem that crossed my mind is how would the inspection at the California State line be like in a refer? looks like probably the best bet is to go with what is the standard. it stands to reason that after years of people with experience sticking with something that works, there probably is a good reason for it.

Dustin
 

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we used to have a 40 ft ref trailer back in the 80's. It held 600 single deeps which were hand loaded. lots of work. one vent in the front was partly open for fresh air. 52-54 degrees was the best. bees give off a lot of heat. If they had extra honey it helped because of the thermal mass. one time we had a load that started to over heat and we blew a ton of ice on top of them. the temp was back to normal in 15 min. I would never hire it done unless I was close for the entire trip. open netting is just more fool proof. the ref trailer was nice as we never had flying bees to deal with.
 

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Welcome to Beesource!

Bees can certainly be transported in a climate controlled trailer. Here is a photo of Olivarez bee packages being readied for such transport ...


Hate to be the wolf howling in the wilderness on this one but anyone who thinks shipping hived bees in a refer is anything remotely close to shipping packages in a semi needs to spend a little more time behind the wheel moving bees. Moving bees any distance that include a trip longer than the night is long is looking for issues.

A little study of the effects of heat retaining masses like boxes and honey blow the physics of the packages vs hives in a refer right out of the water. This doesn't even consider the effects of reduced air flow dynamics as part of the equation.

We have considered doing this on the boat coming back from Alaska so we could skirt the knuckleheads making the bee rules in Canada currently. So far I have forthrightly declined to invest such a large sum of my hard earned funds on a project that anyone with "bee common sense" would immediately say is pushing the envelope beyond the pail of reasonableness.

If you are going to try this you might want to consider putting a little effort into rekindling a friendship with some bloke at Lloyds of London before doing so.
 

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Nothing in my post advocated shipping populated hives inside a climate controlled trailer. I simply pointed out that bees are shipped inside climate controlled vans.

When shipping refrigerated produce (fruits & vegetables), even though those products are obviously grown outdoors, the reefer semis typically don't get loaded directly in the field. Typically the products first go to a plant where they are prepared for shipping, including being precooled. The modern climate control systems on trailers are quite efficient, but they are not designed to deal with refrigerated loads that need to be cooled from ambient temperature. More on that at these links:
http://www.caes.uga.edu/Publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7954
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hil/hil-11.html

Precooling full sized hives obviously adds extra work and costs, and can contribute to making shipping full sized hives in climate controlled vans a poor choice compared to the other available options.

Apiaries raising bees for sale and shipment obviously assign different weights to various options when it comes to making transportation decisions. That Olivarez ships package bees in climate controlled vans when some other package producers choose different shipping methods is a good demonstration of that principle.
 

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Hello,
I am new to the Bee business and I have a question. how do most People transport bees? Dustin
Dustin, the question you ask is clear, most use 48ft flatbeds w/nets. Be ready to sift threw pics & post & becarfull of the fluff factor. The picture of the van that was posted on here fried a load just a year ago, think it's a lot of work loading that van of live bees.... just think how much work it is unloading the van of DEAD ones.
best of luck,Keith
 
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