LOWELL, Mich. — Beekeepers spend a lot of time inspecting, lifting and moving beehives, which can take a physical toll on one’s body.
Ned Stoller, agricultural engineer at Michigan AgrAbility, shared ways to reduce pain and injuries.
“Assistive technology in the apiary can improve the likelihood of success for a beekeeper,” he said. “It’s a very satisfying enterprise and can generate significant income for those who do it well.
“The problem is if you don’t have the assistive technology and you can’t do it well, beekeeping is going to be a failure.
“It’s a science, and it takes a lot of work. You’re better off getting the accommodations to prevent failure from the start.”
Ergonomic tips share by Stoller included:
- Rest at regular intervals and sit on a stool.
- Alternate repetitive, awkward and strenuous tasks.
- Use proper workstation height.
- Keep commonly used items within 17 inches of the worker’s body.
Successful beekeepers inspect their hives regularly for bee health, pests, feeding and honey production, Stoller said.
There often are cases of arthritis, repetitive motion injuries, back injuries and musculoskeletal issues caused from the activity.
“If at all possible, come up with assistive technology to get the hives up off the ground,” Stoller said.
Technologies such as fork hand trucks, handheld dollies, two-person hive carriers, cranes and more can make the job easier.
“The pry bar is a standard tool used to pop the frames loose from the hive body,” Stoller said. “It can be a small tool and hard to grip. There are different options, like a 14-inch giant hive tool.
“The longer the hand tool, the less force you have to use to pry those frames. The frame grip is a tool to grab a hold of the frames and lift them out.”
Modified tools enable beekeepers to do tasks that would otherwise be impossible or unhealthy for the worker.
Learn more about assistive technology at: www.agrability.org.