In fact, try it right now. Take a look at this photo I snapped in traffic and take your best guess:
Did you guess several million honey bees heading off to work? Ding, ding, ding. You're our winner!
Did you know that commercial beekeepers not only raise bees to make honey, they also rent their bees to farmers for pollination of crops and orchards? How are these honey bees transported? Henny Youngman would answer, "very carefully" and he would be correct.
As a pallet industry professional (who also happens to dabble in beekeeping), I first want to share a few details on honey bee boxes, frames and foundations.
Bees are raised in bee boxes called supers and hive bodies.
Box Frames and Foundations
Inside each box are 8 or 10 frames. Each frame has thousands of small hex shaped indentations.
Transporting Bees There and Back
In WWII, the US military figured out the best way to move a lot a boxes is on a pallet. The same is true for transporting honey bees for pollination. You may be wondering if a plastic or wood pallet foundation is best. Ask four beekeepers which is better and you will receive 5 different answers - somewhat like pallets themselves!
Just don't drop them!
Honey bees don't like to be jostled about so keeping them snugly in place on the pallet is very important. By the way, the bees are free to come and go as they like from the boxes. This means that if you do jostle or god forbid drop a hive during transport or loading or unloading, the normally docile honey bees turn into a million plus angry flying stinging creatures - ALL of whom are ready to give their lives to protect their queen.
Returning the bees back home
So the bees are now gone from their beekeeper's home and are in an orchard or some other farm. How does the farmer collect the bees after they pollinate so they can go home again or move on to another farm? Easy. Bees always return to their own hive to be with their queen. Plus, once the sun goes down the bees are inside for the evening.
Have you seen honey bees (or something stranger) buzzing down the highway on pallets? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Post by: David Caltrider, President (and beekeeper)