Even though he’s been stung more times than he cares to admit, OOIDA member and bee hauler Kenny Wyman of Summit, SD, said he looks forward to hauling the temperamental cargo during pollination season every year.
Wyman said bees aren’t the easiest cargo he’s hauled, but his trips are never dull.
“It takes a lot of planning when you haul bees,” he said. “You can’t just stop when you feel like it, especially when it’s hot, because those bees need air flow or they get pretty upset,” he said.
Wyman, who has been trucking for more than 25 years and an owner-operator for the past five years, said he first got involved in bee hauling through friends who started hauling bees.
For the past three years, Wyman has hauled loads of bees for Richard Adee, who is the head of the country’s largest beekeeping operation, Adee Honey Farms in Bruce, SD.
Adee said his company has more than 80,000 colonies of bees. Starting in about two weeks, the majority of those bees will be put on flatbed trailers – amounting to approximately 175 semi loads – that will be hauled out to Bakersfield, CA.
Once the bees arrive in California, Adee said, they will be fed carbohydrates and protein to help them prepare for the busy pollination season ahead, which starts in February.
Adee said he has already received numerous phone calls from truckers lining up to haul loads of his bees.
“It’s really a good load for the truckers – we try to make it as easy for them as possible,” he said. “We load the pallets on the trailers and put the net over the pallets for them, then we unload the pallets for them when they arrive with their loads.”
Truckers who haul bees for Adee Honey Farms are given detailed instructions on when to travel, when to stop and what to do if there is a problem, according to Adee.
“We try to make sure everything is planned out so our truckers aren’t crossing the desert during the day,” he said. “We also instruct them that if the truck has problems and they have to stop, they know what to do – we have the truckers simulate weather conditions that keep the bees happy – the bees know not to venture out when it’s windy and they know not to go out when it’s raining, so we try to make sure they have air moving or they have water on them to keep them cool.”
What’s with the bees?
There has been a noticeable decline of millions of honeybees across the United States, which could be devastating for growers whose crops depend on pollination by honeybees. Watch for our upcoming article on why bees are so important to the food supply chain.
– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer