Commercial bee-keeper Woldgate Honey needs trucks that can carry heavy loads both on and off road, across challenging terrain and in all weathers – the Mercedes-Benz Unimog hits the sweet spot!
The Bridlington-based company took delivery of three new 8.8-tonne gvw Unimog U4023 models from specialist Dealer South Cave Tractors, of Newport, East Yorkshire, in time for this year’s production season, which culminates in the autumn harvest.
During this busy period teams of Woldgate Honey’s bee-keepers travel daily to remote spots on the North York Moors, where the insects feed on heather. It’s a job that requires vehicles with a diverse set of capabilities, and most come up short in one respect or another. The multi-role Mercedes-Benz Unimog, however, takes all in its stride.
Managing Director Mark Evamy explained: “The work takes us some distance from our headquarters, so we need trucks that can be driven comfortably and cost-effectively on roads at normal speeds.
“But some of our more remote hive locations are up to five miles from the nearest piece of road, so genuine cross-country ability is vital too. Finally, we need a chassis to which we can fit our specialised Australian-built Ezyloader lifting arms and that will also provide space to carry as many as 160 hives as well as any other equipment our operatives need.
“When you consider which vehicles are able to tick all of these boxes, you realise the list is very short indeed. Certainly, the Unimog is by far and away the one that best meets our requirements.”
Mr Evamy continued: “I’ve known bee-keepers who try to do the job with agricultural tractors, which are fine on rough ground but much slower and less efficient on the tarmac. Others favour pick-up trucks with trailers, but these are nowhere near as good as a Unimog across rough ground.
“We have tried other vehicles in the past but since we bought our first Unimog 12 years ago we’ve never found anything that comes close to its all-purpose capability.”
The Unimog offers unrivalled traction thanks to its strong yet torsionally flexible frame and a thrust tube suspension system that provide extreme levels of axle articulation, while short overhangs allow it to tackle gradients of 100%, or 45 degrees.
Woldgate’s new trucks are powered by 170 kW (230 hp) Euro VI engines which drive all four wheels. Replacements for a trio of Unimogs of varying ages, they are fitted with galvanised steel platform bodies by DG Taylor, of Driffield, which are mounted on Unimog’s special, torsion-free, pivoting sub-frames to prevent them from interfering with the flexion of the chassis. Their lifting arms are mounted at the rear.
“This is the first time we’ve bought three trucks together,” said Mr Evamy. “We’re delighted with them – not only are they extremely capable, but they’re also much kinder to the environment than the vehicles they replaced.
“As well as engines that meet the latest exhaust emissions standards, Woldgate’s latest Unimogs are equipped with central tyre inflation systems. These allow the driver to drop the pressures from the cab when the vehicle is off-road, thus minimising damage to the underlying soil and increasing levels of grip, then inflate them again when back on a hard surface for greater safety and fuel efficiency at normal road speeds.”
Woldgate Honey produces upwards of 60 tonnes of honey each year, from more than 2,000 hives; in peak season, each can contain in excess of 50,000 bees. Hives are moved around a series of locations throughout the March-October production season, from arable fields in the spring to heather moorland in the autumn, to ensure they are always near a ready supply of pollen from flowering plants. The company sells its honey in bulk, as high-quality Yorkshire produce, to a wide range of packers and outlets.