Thanks to Rob Tucker (Tucker Media) for supplying these images.
Helicopter support for the honey industry
Precision Helicopters Ltd (PHL) have strong local knowledge and are able to assist beekeepers in finding suitable blocks and can assist with organising logistics.
Our aircraft are maintained to a high standard and we have a variety of aircraft ranging from the largest lifting capacity of 1.2 tonne to the smallest lifting capacity of 500 kg.
Our pilots and ground-crew are very experienced with dealing with bees and are able to carry out the operation competently.
Locating, Mapping & Assessing Blocks
PHL aircraft are equipped with accurate GPS mapping systems. We are capable of assessing blocks of land and providing our clients with an outline of number of hectares and suitable sites for hives with estimated carrying capacity.
Locating & Preparing Loading Sites
Helicopter loading sites need to be a wide, flat open area clear of wires that is large enough to accommodate all hives and a helicopter refuelling area. Refuelling is usually carried out at least 100 metres away from the lifting area.
Locating & Preparing Hive Sites
In some cases, natural clearings can be used as hive sites. We prefer to have an 18 x 18 metre clearing to safely hover the helicopter. If the natural clearing isn’t large enough, we can provide a scrub cutting team to enlarge the area.
All beekeeping staff involved in the helicopter operation will complete a comprehensive helicopter safety course ensuring they are familiar with all risks and hazards associated with the operation.
Daily on-site safety meetings are held and documented prior to commencement of work.
Specialised Lifting Equipment
PHL has custom built, specialised lifting equipment for transporting hives. This equipment ensures the bees and their hives are gently handled.
We use a certified set of aluminium pallet forks for hive transportation work. These pallet forks are lightweight but strong, therefore eliminating the use of lifting strops.
Each pallet fork can carry four hives. The hives need to be secured to a wooden pallet.
At the loading site, the ground-crew prepare each load and in most cases, at the delivery point, the pilot has the ability to remove the forks from the pallet without requiring any personnel on the ground.
Proof of Placement
Once the hives are flown into their delivery site, we supply our client with the GPS data of the hive locations and the number of hives at each location.
Sustainable Forest Management
PHL are aerial agricultural operators and we have a wealth of knowledge in the agricultural sector.
Eventually, Manuka will return to natural forest. To keep trees at a young state, we can spray out blocks of Punga of older Manuka to allow the natural generation of young Manuka.
PHL are able to quote a turn-key price on a per hive basis for delivery and retrieval.
Pricing varies depending on the length of the flight. We usually deliver eight empty hive per load and retrieve four full hives per load.
As a rule of thumb, the helicopter travels at one nautical mile per minute with a sling load and it generally take 30 seconds to pick up a load and 30 seconds to place a load. So, the closer the loading site is to the hive delivery site, the shorter the haul time resulting in less helicopter time on the job.
When deciding where you want to put your hives, you need to consider the timeframes you will require to allow all applicable permissions are sought (i.e. Department of Conservation concessions, farmer permission etc).