Top clamp and cushioned tynes help keep Hummerbee load in place.
A&O Forklift of Edmore is poised for higher visibility. The business specialises in manufacturing and distributing the Hummerbee brand of all-terrain articulating forklifts for use by beekeepers.
The firm began production of the line for pollination and honey production in 2006 and now offers the Hummerbee XL and Hummerbee Turbo models.
"Before that, we were modifying loaders into forklifts," says president Brian Kulling. "There were no forklifts for what they needed out there" to move hives.
A&O Forklift builds four or five Hummerbees weekly, and "we sell almost 150 forklifts a year", he says. "We are starting to branch into orchard use and nursery use."
An optional high clamp has become popular. More than half of the firm’s machines have the hive-top device. On the forks, the manufacturer positions a load-dampening cushion to arrest any en route motion and help keep hive boxes from falling off.
A&O Forklift builds a customised trailer with appropriate tie-downs for relocating a Hummerbee.
The machines meet requirements for a turf-friendly operation. "A Hummerbee is easy to manoeuvre and doesn’t tear the ground apart" like a skid-steer, compact-track or all-wheel-steer loader, Kulling says.
Hummerbees use a turbocharger-equipped four-cylinder Kubota diesel engine.
A&O Forklift markets the Hummerbee throughout the US and Canada and is starting to branch out with direct sales, and possible distribution arrangements, in Australia and South America.
A&O Forklift employs 21 staff and has a manufacturing facility occupying 40,000 sqft. (3,716 sqm).
The business was established in 1992 and also makes Hummerbee snow blower, snow blade, bucket, mower, drum grabber and log splitter attachments.
Jupiter, Florida-based DMG Productions LLC plans to broadcast a segment about the Hummerbee on its American Farmer
program in several months. DMG worked through an industry contact in identifying A&O Forklift and its Hummerbee for possible media exposure.
"We are in the process of scripting with them," says Chad Densen, production manager for the cable television program. "We plan to start shooting footage in July, edit in August and broadcast in October or November."
Each segment of the 30-minute magazine-style program lasts about seven minutes and is distributed through numerous news and cable networks such as Rural Media International’s Rural TV outlets and Discovery Communications LLC’s Discovery Channel.
"A&O Forklift has always worked to promote the world of beekeeping, a global industry that is not widely known yet plays an extremely important role in everyone’s lives," Kulling notes. "Participating in American Farmer
is an excellent opportunity to continue to spread that message and inform others of the role that the Hummerbee plays in agricultural growth."