Spending $10,000 for a boom loader with only a few hundred hives seems a stretch unless you don't want to make a profit from your bees for a long period of time. The Ezyloader from Australia is a complicated piece of machinery. I purchased the one Harry has from Australia and getting it here is a long story in itself. Harry is the type of person who keeps equipment in great shape and understands how to keep it working. I would say Harry is a nut about this kind of thing. (It would be great if more of us could be like him, but very few are.) If something goes wrong, like hitting a tree, the damage is very expensive and time consuming to repair. You seldom damage equipment at a convenient time.
A one ton truck like a F350 or the 3500 Dodge or Chevy is not enough truck for the Ezyloader boom. You need a F450, 550 or better yet a F650. That is, one with the capacity of 80 to 100 hives. The boom weighs 1000 plus pounds and the net capacity of a one ton truck is only about 4000 to 5000 pounds. The suspension of a one ton is weak for the sideways torque applied when lifting hives at the end of the boom.
For many years we used a Fruetal boom and trucks no bigger than a one ton with up to 600 hives. This boom weighs a few hundred pounds, is fast and cost around $1500. I know of several in use and expect you could find someone to make a near copy. Many other local beekeepers have made booms that serve them well. I could get you names of Beekeepers you could talk to about their booms.
Thanks for the answer. Yeah, I was confused when I heard the $10k quote for the used boom. Must have confused the Ezyloader with another model (perhaps the Fruetal). Ten grand is definitely out of my budget, even though I could find tons of uses for a loader.
I'd love to get a lead on some plans or beekeeping-specific ideas for the "near copy", as I have tons of engineering geeks in my circle...and I'll do some looking into the Fruetals. Thanks, Chuck!
Here is my experience and thoughts on a Fruetel Boom, in no particular order.
I spoke to Jim Fruetel about 18 months ago before I purchased a boom he had built. His advertisements can be found in old ABJ's. He would be someone to talk to if you wanted one custom built. In my conversation with him he was very helpful. Frankly if you watch long enough, these booms come up for sale a couple of times a year. Last spring Nick Noyes (Idaho) offered one on Bee Source, I never saw if he sold it or not. Funny thing is new they cost about $1300 but I commonly see them for resale for $1500 or more. I purchased mine for $700 and a 15 hour round trip to Pocatello, ID. In the end I spent a couple of hundred dollars more replacing worn out cable and electrical components.
This is the boom mounted on my trailer, less than ideal. But you work with what you have not what you wish you had. I made it so that it clamps into the stake pockets, so that I can remove it. Unfortunately I cut off part of the boom in the picture.
These things are no walk in the park, though they are better than loading by hand. It takes a lot of upper body strength to maneuver the cradle when loaded. This boom can be leveled, but it is difficult. Loading and unloading, without leveling on a hill can be an enormous wrestling match.
My next task is to mount lights on the boom to reduce stumbling in the dark. Because when you stumble you dump hives. When you lose a hive the boom springs upward, flicking the last edge of the hive ensuring that it lands upside down. Then you really start to hate moving bees.
A boom could rather easily be fashioned by someone with some fabricating experience and the right tools.
Even on the low trailer the mast of the boom sticks way up there. Which can snag on all kinds of stuff.
One other consideration would be to mount the boom on the rear of the truck to increase the reach of the boom.
I have read of but never seen this last suggestion, but I like the sounds of it. Instead of mounting the motor and winch near the mast and running cables and electric controls to the cradle. An ATV winch is mounted on the sliding rail and controlled with a wireless remote. This gets rid of the problem of tearing up your electrical cord on the cable that raises and lowers the cradle. The method of running the cable out through the cradle is ingenious, but it is prone to problems with twisting and jumping of track. The straight pull from the winch eliminates these contortions.
When on level ground and everything is working, it makes quick work of what would be a hellish job by hand.
Sorry that was a little long winded, hope it helps.
Post by HarryVanderpool on Jan 8, 2007 11:29:15 GMT -7
I want to comment about one's justification for making investments. I start with the simple question: How serious are you about what you are thinking about doing? Let me use as an example:
One of the first things we purchased right after we got married was a Ford F-100 with a blown engine for $300.00. When I bought it, my goal was to fix it up and use it for the rest of my life. Once on the engine stand and opened, the engine revealed that TWO rods were thrown, and the camshaft was shattered into 5 pieces. It was grenaded! Rather than do a simple rebuild, or worse yet, buy a used engine, I researched that particular engine and did a blueprint ing job on it. After all of the machine work, and the cool parts, the rebuild cost right under $3000.00 All of my buddies said the same thing, "You'll never get your money back out of that!" Were they right? 30 years later, and after watching them buy one brand new truck after another and spending HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS on interest and depreciation, I am driving the same truck. It is still a strong runner. How strong? Just last year I offered a $1000.00 wager on a drag race. Unfortunately, the race never happened because the other party knew better and backed down. Anyway, I was serious about my investment in the truck and it has paid off many times over. When I had only 4 hives I went out and bought a 9 frame stainless radial extractor and a power uncapper. Same old song: "You don't need that. You only have 4 hives" Then I bought the Killer Bee Truck from Chuck although I only had 120 hives. You guessed it! "You don't need that!!!! You only have 120 hives!" Now I'm buying a swinger with 300 hives. Here; you fill in the words: "_" Beekeeping is hard work. But rather than wait until it becomes a struggle, I say, invest ahead in the equipment that takes a load off and makes it more enjoyable. My 2 cents.
Bettis, long winded is very welcome when there's good info to give. THANKS!
Harry, we're on the same page about new vehicles, which is why I'm keeping an ear out for a good used truck. But aside from my mortgage, I don't do credit--so any investments I make will have to be made in cash and creativity. And cash is kinda low, especially as I've had some enormous curveballs thrown my way in the past year.
While in general I agree with you about growing into equipment (I'd never dream of shooting my first weddings with a pocket camera until I had the $ for a pro digital SLR or three) I just can't spend thousands and thousands on a (used) Swinger or even a (used) Bobcat right now, even if I know that's my goal in a few years as Curt and I do hope to have enough colonies--as well as other projects--to justify a good forklift. This season and maybe even next, my colony numbers will be low enough that I can get away with borrowed pickups or my flatbed trailer and Subie, but if I do my homework and keep my eyes open, I can be ready for the next step when that time comes.
It's funny--when I ask these questions, people are really amused when they find out how few colonies I have right now, but if I'm going to make a commitment to beekeeping on a sideliner scale, I need to think four years down the road. For Harry, this means investing in equipment that will save his back and keep things enjoyable--for me, it's making sure I don't overinvest so that one bad year doesn't bankrupt me. As a contractor (with many contractor friends) I've seen it happen, and beekeeping will be more enjoyable for me if my biggest burden is hand-loading hives rather than worrisome debt.
On the other hand, if I do get that bug to just go for it, I'll refer to Harry's post for justification!
By the way, does the purchase of that Swinger mean you're expanding beyond 300 colonies, Harry? And are you just priming me as a potential buyer for the Killer Bee Rig? Because really, I am a pushover...wait, I didn't write that out loud, did I?
By the way...Exactly one year ago, I bought a trackhoe/loader with auger and dozer blade, and heard all the same stuff and then some (What are YOU gonna do with that?") Well, dig post holes, drainage systems, driveway, foundation trenches, etc. I spent a good chunk of change on the machine, but am soooo glad I did. Mostly because I researched the manufacturer and model, and weighed the pros and cons for a long time before even shopping for the Wee Monster (as I call it.) So when the right machine came by, at the right price, I had no hesitation about buying it on the spot and no regrets, even though that $$$ could have really come in handy in subsequent months. Eventually, I'll sell it (probably for the same price I paid) and replace it with a machine more appropriate to my projects at the time.
Everyone's input here is helping me in the right direction, and giving me a lot of good stuff to think about. Harry mentioned something a few months back as a response to the "how many colonies do you have to run to make a living" thing, and his comments really jive with our own outlook. I guess I'm trying to figure out how to get through the years when they don't even pay for themselves.
Michelle, what are your long-term goals and how fast do you plan to get there? Most of the reasonably sized outfits tend to move away from booms for a reason. Have you totally given up on getting a lift? JBJ
John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com Great queens require MANY GREAT DRONES... every single time.
John, I haven't given up on getting anything, really. A liftgate is always handy, and usually not too spendy, so I'd probably end up with one regardless.
Long term goals are to gradually split and increase over the next few years (more or less) with about 250-350 as our 2010 target, and more if we can handle it later on. I want to gradually scale back on my moderately successful photo biz over the next few years, and eventually move out of the city--either to the acreage we own now, or something similar. We're still in the "trying it on" phase, but we can really see bees fitting into our other potential projects (i.e. meat goats, workshops, world domination and stuff).
This is conservative, because Curt's 10 feet away, jumping up and down saying he'd do this full time if he could. Which would mean more bees. And if his son (age 10 now) remains interested, well, who knows?
Post by HarryVanderpool on Jan 8, 2007 19:18:35 GMT -7
Claude, do you have a name for your truck? My F-100 is the "Green Machine". My F-450 is the "Killer Bee Truck". Here is a suggestion for yours: The "Killerest Bee Truck"!!!!!!!!!! That truck of yours is really cool! Thanks for the pix, as always.
Michelle, by lift I meant forklift. Hard to justify with a small number of hives, but I am pretty sure we would have grown faster if we had got one earlier. Only a limited amount of miles in one back and limited range of one boom.
On another note I will have to post a pic of Hank, the Honey Hauler, 1966 C-60. An oldie but a goodie with a fresh power plant. JBJ
John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com Great queens require MANY GREAT DRONES... every single time.