Well now I have an out apiary which is great, but unfortunately I can't get my car near to the hives. Lugging supers of honey and bits of hive to and from the vehicle is a bit of a chore. I have a wheelbarrow on site and while I can load it up with empty supers it isn't the ideal for a full super (or two) to sit comfortably on. I've seen on the net that people have tried to make wheelbarrows accommodate hives such as adding wooden crosspieces or strapping a pallet on top to make a flat platform but with a centre of gravity so high I'd be concerned about stability. I was going to need to come up with a bespoke barrow specifically for lugging hive boxes. After a little more Google searching I found the 'Famous 500' barrow and another barrow from the same family which both position the hives over the wheel to reduce the load. I also found Buster and this one which have a platform resting on the barrow frame level with the centre of the wheel which would give the load a very low centre of gravity making them very stable. They're all basically a wheelbarrow with the scoop removed and a flat platform attached with something to stop things sliding off. Some have extra bits like holes for ventilating hives of bees on the move, cut outs for hand holds, cut outs for ratchet straps, large feet for soft ground and clips to hold hive parts.
Beekeepers are a thrifty lot and I'm no exception. As I didn't fancy splashing out on a new barrow or butchering my existing one as it's perfectly good for it's regular duties, I went for a drive around the Avenues looking for skips. There's always a few houses being renovated round there and builders often bin off deceased barrows. Sure enough a few skips later I found a knackered barrow. The wheel and axle had been removed, the powder coating was coming off and the scoop was battered and holed in a few places. I think it'd probably been used for mixing concrete looking at the state of it. I put it in the car and drove home.
I got some 18mm exterior ply and guestimating the measurements used the tablesaw to cut a board a bit wider than a hive body and long enough for me to carry some other random gubbins at the front. I secured it with the bolts from the front of the barrow and jubilee clips at each of the four points it where it reaches the frame. To stop things sliding off too quickly I glued a lip at the front and the back of the board clamping them in place for 24 hours whilst the glue did it's thing. Then I decided to paint the frame. I should've really done that before attaching the board but it was just an afterthought. I gave the frame a quick wipe down removing the looser bits of powder coating, cement, mud and whatever then just painted over everything that was left with one of those 'apply directly to rust' type paints. I also added more varnish to the sides of the jubilee clip holes, where the bolts were and the cut sides.
|Work of art.|
At that point I tested it with a brood box and found just by luck that a box at the back of the platform sat comfortably against the bendy bits of the handles. I made a tailgate type thing from an offcut board with a couple more offcuts glued behind to hold it in place between the handles and varnished. It just sits there held in place by whatever's in the barrow.
|Tailgate type thing|
I had planned to make it a three wheeler to spread the load and raise the back end when stationary but after reading about different wheelbases in carp fishing forums it seems one wheel is easiest to keep stable on rough ground as you can't tilt a two wheel device to compensate to uneven surface. One wheel is also easier to steer. Carp fishing forums? Yep, the people who seem to know most about barrows are carp fishermen. They regularly lug about a quarter tonne of equipment across fields, through forests and over mountains in the pursuit of catch and release sport fishing. There's even an industry making rugged barrows and trolleys specifically for them to haul their fishing kit, tent, packed lunch, missing neighbour or whatever to those hard to reach bodies of water, so their forums are the best places to look for advice on barrows.
|A slightly different barrow|