What is an Ezyloader you say? Lifting and moving 80 to 100 pound bee boxes, especially for us in the “mature” group, all day is brutal. “Beekeeper Back”, although probably not an official medical term, is as real as Tennis Elbow – besides why should athletes get all the fancy ailments named after their occupation? We believe we have found a cure, it comes from Australia, and it is called Ezyloader!
An Australian beekeeper, hospitalized with the “beekeeper back” syndrome (that hunched over and can’t walk ’cause your back and spine is trashed thing), invented the design for Ezyloader from his hospital bed. It is unlike the articulating forklifts used by some beekeepers in that Ezyloader mounts directly onto your “bee truck”, doesn’t require another trailer (at least four more tires and licensing fees for a forklift trailer), doesn’t have a noisy engine that runs in the bee yards, doesn’t have four tires, and all the other requisite maintenance that most engine based machinery requires yet serves the same purpose with added benefits – individual hive use versus just another forklift for pallets! Think of all the oil, gas, filters, and tire patches I am going to eliminate here in Texas mesquite country ! I am sure the forklift guys and I could debate the pros and cons of each for hours but that is not our purpose here.
Beekeepers with multiple out-apiary locations need to move heavily populated hives quickly. Most always the bee boxes are on pallets of some kind to aid in faster loading and unloading from a truck. Although we do not use our honey bees for pollination services, Ezyloader allows us to install and remove honey bee colonies at out-apiary locations quickly in case of brush fires (it may be just a Texas thing), lift individual or multiple boxes during inspections, or take off supers rapidly during the honey harvest.
Ordering and receiving an Ezyloader took about 8 months. The U.S. is served by a very capable distributor in Canada (Herb Issac) who takes care of all the paperwork from ordering, customs, trans-oceanic shipping and trucking. Our experience with Herb Issac has been excellent. I wish more companies provided the level of customer service he does when you spend this kind of money!
There is an understandable backlog for building and delivering these units. The crate it came in was all stout angle iron and although we had some exterior sheeting damage on the crate (aka Sherman Tank) in shipping, the internal steel framing and Ezyoader made it through just fine. Our unit weighs about 800 pounds plus another 100 pounds (+/-) for the shipping crate, so have a suitable piece of equipment to get it out of the delivery truck when it arrives. Fork extenders are a must as the crate is roughly 2 feet wide x 10 feet long x 7 feet high. We had to “pick it” from the short side to get it out of the delivery truck, and again for loading onto our “bee truck” using the mid-mount installation. We used some 4×4 lumber and cargo straps to help support the Ezyloader during crate removal to truck installation.
Installing the Ezyloader isn’t overly complicated but it does require some welding and electrical work. We isolated the electrical work from the truck by servicing the Ezyloader electric motor and controls with its own 12 volt battery (8D Class). Measure properly and cut the hole for the crane support stem entering through the truck deck. Weld support braces to the Ezyloader stem bracket and bolt the braces to the truck chassis. Bolt across the deck (topside) to the side rails and in a few places in between (supported by welded steel cross rails below deck) and you have completed the physical mount. Electrical is as simple as running a positive cable from the battery to a control panel circuit breaker and the ground to a ground point on the Ezloader frame and your electrical connections are done. We suggest pre-made automotive style (4 gauge or better) battery cables unless you have tools to make them.
We will install a heavy duty battery isolator (allows us to turn off current from the battery serving the Ezyloader) within the locked compartment where the battery is installed under the side of the truck bed. It will ensure that people won’t tamper with the external crane controls when off-property. Just a little insurance policy.
We look forward to bringing you additional updates on our use of the Ezyloader.