A 500 Horsepower Homemade Giant — the Story Behind the Honey Bee 2WD Tractor

Looking to add a bigger tractor to their farm and save some money along the way, Greg and Glenn Honey of Bracken, Saskatchewan spent the winter of 1978-79 building a giant yellow and black workhorse that has come to symbolize farmer ingenuity and sheer power.

The original 500 horsepower, 2-wheel-drive Honey Bee tractor returned to Canada’s Farm Progress Show this year for the first time since its debut at the show in 1979.

Featuring a VTA-1710 v12 Cummins engine, a 13-speed Eaton transmission, air-start (as you can hear in the video below) and earthmover tires, the machine served as the main tractor on Honey Farms from 1979 to around 1995.

“I’d had some experience in the machinery building business from a previous job, so we decided we’d take a run at building our own two-wheel-drive tractor, and this is what we came up with,” explains Greg Honey.

The unit only cost the brothers around $40,000, in part because they chose to go with the simple two-wheel-drive system rather than an articulated, four-wheel drive design. They built a second similar tractor in 1980, with a Cat engine, but as he explains, they decided to focus their manufacturing efforts on building swathers and headers rather than competing against other tractor brands.

With around 6,000 hours of field work, Honey Bee 1 was pulled out of the shed about two years ago to be stripped, sand-blasted and re-painted. “We thought we’d better bring it back to the show while it still looked good,” jokes Honey.

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