When taking the lid off a jar of honey or opening their squeeze pack, many honey lovers are likely unaware of the lengths honey producers go to, to ensure top quality produce.
Yes everybody knows that honey comes from bees and bees live in beehives, but hives need to be regularly moved from location to location, to keep the bees healthy and making honey while providing a vital pollination service for crops in the process.
Third generation apiarist, Ashley Smith, from Lakeside Honey, works with father Eric having grown the business over several years to now own and manage almost 1000 hives, providing their produce to leading brands including Capilano and Archibald honey.
Based in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, the father and son duo are regularly on the road moving hives to chase flower blooms – the purchase of their new Euro6 ML 180 (18t GVM) with sleeper cab makes this task easier and more efficient with the vehicle having replaced a smaller 8t GVM truck.
“Typically the hives need to be relocated every six to eight weeks to keep the bees from running out of nectar,” Ashley said.
“With around 1000 hives to manage, this sees us regularly travelling to different locations in search of flowering trees and plants, we’re also called upon by agricultural companies to help pollinate their commercial crops, particularly the almond industry which is very reliant on bees to produce the nuts. These requests see us driving to a lot of areas in regional Victoria.
“During the day the bees are away from the hives collecting nectar so we normally work at night to shift the hives to different areas, this means that I often sleep in the truck.
“The Eurocargo provides a good size sleeping area and the high roof and compact transmission tunnel also allows easy movement around the cab.”
The truck is fitted with a 28 foot tray providing sufficient space for up to 98 beehives along with an ‘Ezyloader 125’ crane allowing efficient loading and unloading of the hives which can weight 90 kg when full of honey.
Other modifications include a steel bumper to minimise damage from animal strikes when driving in rural areas. Given the time spent out on the road, Ashley also plans to equip the Eurocargo with a few creature comforts of home in the near future, including DVD player and fridge.
With its IVECO ‘Tector 7’ 280 hp (206kW) engine with 1,000 Nm of torque, ZF 9-speed manual transmission and rear airbag suspension, Ashley said that the truck is both easy and very comfortable to drive, but even more important to him is the model’s unique ‘HI-SCR’ emission control system.
“The Hi-SCR system works through fresh and clean air intake rather than exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), keeping exhaust gas temperatures low,” he said.
“Often we’re out driving in paddocks and reserves amongst really long grass so it’s comforting to know we’re not going to set the place alight.”
Ashley said that the honey industry was growing strongly year to year.
“The industry is going great and aside from the honey production, the demand for bees to do their pollination work on a commercial basis is also increasing.” he said.
“I love the industry, the variety of the work and I’m looking forward to clocking up many more kilometres in my Eurocargo doing this.”
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