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Author Topic: Increasing a farmers production with your bees  (Read 1478 times)
Frantz
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« on: June 16, 2008, 07:26:45 PM »

Howdy all,
What kind of production increase would be typical on a farm that was commercially producing veggies and fruit when you stuck the right number of bees on it?? I have a 200 acre farm that a guy runs and is wanting to have bees on, what number of hives would be enough and what do you guys think. I have moved from my country setting to the city and need a place to put some hives and such, but his farm would take a while to get to. (about an hour). Sounds like fun to me, especially since he will pay for it I am sure, but what do you guys think? Anyone do anything like this before? I am not commercially set up or anything, just a hobby type of thing, and I am still very new to this sooooo... give me some feedback.
Thanks guys/gals
Frantz
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bassman1977
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« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2008, 09:02:58 PM »

I haven't really kept good records or anything but I have asked some farmers if they noticed any major differences with their crops over the past few years.  Coincidently, the blueberry guys said they have had "bumper crops" the past two years.  My wife and I have also noticed a huge difference with the wild blackberries.  They have been more plump and greater in number than ever before.  We have a lot of crops around us, such as corn, hay, alfalfa (which isn't allowed to go to seed), so I don't think the farmers would see much difference with that.  Every so often someone will plant soybeans, but I don't think any have been planted the last year or two.  I think they would do well with the bees assistance.
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hankdog1
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« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2008, 09:14:30 PM »

Well don't hold me to it but i've read a hive can take care of a half acre for pollination.  On the other hand while that's the case honey output isn't going to be all that great for the hives since the area will be saturated with bees.  I'd try to find a number that makes you more money and the farmer more money.  Remember gas is high and your gonna have to offset that plus some to make it worth going for.  Good luck though if you decide to go for it.
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KONASDAD
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« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2008, 09:55:31 PM »

A lot would depnd on whether this farm has pollination from other sources first. Second, the crop type is a huge factor as well. Near me, blueberries will increase from about 250lbs /acre to over 750lbs I have been told. I also have a standard apple trees(3), and the first year w/o bees, zilch. Second year w/ about 25lbs. this is 3rd year, w/ pruning and bees, The tree is loaded and totally full w/ small apples. like never before. Since I dont have other pollinators besided bumbles, I get huge increae in rpoductivity.
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qa33010
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2008, 01:18:11 AM »

   Since honeybees returned here the last three years I've heard from a lot of folks that they are getting excellent increased production and are seeing bees, regularily, in their gardens for the first time in years.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2008, 05:14:17 PM »

A few things to consider:
1. Size of Farm.
2. Crop diversity.
3. Travel time/cost.
4. Additional forage available in 2 mile radius of bee yard location.
5. Pollination fees run about $50-60 dollars per hive for a crop during it's pollination season (Almonds in CA is an exception).
6. If you have a bee yard of 10 hives that equates to $500-600 per year for pollination fees (a deductable expense for the farmer).

The cruncher is whether or not there is sufficient crop diversity plus sufficient additional forage to support the bee yard.  Take a survey and figure how many hives the farm site can sustain and then do not exceed it.  The more types of crops grown the better for the bees.  If the farm has a small orchard plus grows fresh vegetable crops or seed or berrys then the forage is more sustainable.

The honey crop is your's to do with as you will, although giving the farmer back a few pounds of honey will sweeten the deal.  Also get it in writting to avoid unforeseen pitfalls.
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Frantz
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2008, 06:03:30 PM »

Thanks for the input everyone. This farm is very diversified. It has all the vegetables and stuff and a good size orchard of apples, and other fruit bearing trees as well. Not sure what all there is. I am worried about the travel and such as you all mentioned.
So what kind of #'s do you guys think that is needed to pollinate this farm. It is a 200 acre farm. Pretty square in shape. Doesn't seem to be much in the way of much natural pollinaters in the area from what I can see.
I just don't know if we are talking 2, 10, or 50 hives. Let me know what you all think.
Thanks all.
Frantz
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2008, 06:31:18 PM »

Thanks for the input everyone. This farm is very diversified. It has all the vegetables and stuff and a good size orchard of apples, and other fruit bearing trees as well. Not sure what all there is. I am worried about the travel and such as you all mentioned.
So what kind of #'s do you guys think that is needed to pollinate this farm. It is a 200 acre farm. Pretty square in shape. Doesn't seem to be much in the way of much natural pollinaters in the area from what I can see.
I just don't know if we are talking 2, 10, or 50 hives. Let me know what you all think.
Thanks all.
Frantz

What type of trees surround the area--trees provide a lot of nectar and pollen forage as does swampy areas. The more diversity in flora and terrain the better for the bees.  I think I would place about 4 hives there and see how it goes.  I say 4 hives because it is just enough to make the trip worth while and should make a difference.  Also, remember, that if a neighboring farm goes hay that means forage from a mixture of clover, trefoil, vetch, alfalfa, and various grasses which can yield more than a person would think.
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hankdog1
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2008, 10:08:02 PM »

A few things to consider:
1. Size of Farm.
2. Crop diversity.
3. Travel time/cost.
4. Additional forage available in 2 mile radius of bee yard location.
5. Pollination fees run about $50-60 dollars per hive for a crop during it's pollination season (Almonds in CA is an exception).
6. If you have a bee yard of 10 hives that equates to $500-600 per year for pollination fees (a deductable expense for the farmer).

The cruncher is whether or not there is sufficient crop diversity plus sufficient additional forage to support the bee yard.  Take a survey and figure how many hives the farm site can sustain and then do not exceed it.  The more types of crops grown the better for the bees.  If the farm has a small orchard plus grows fresh vegetable crops or seed or berrys then the forage is more sustainable.

The honey crop is your's to do with as you will, although giving the farmer back a few pounds of honey will sweeten the deal.  Also get it in writting to avoid unforeseen pitfalls.

Wow 60 bucks seems pretty cheap i've heard of beekeepers in Virginia getting 100 per hive CCD has helped driving that price up.  Our state has a pollinator site where people can post pollination contracts and beekeepers can put thier hives up.  If your state has one it would give you a good idea on what to charge.
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rdy-b
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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2008, 10:53:19 PM »

Take as many as you can haul in one load-how are you going to transport the bees and equipment? I would think that you should show up with at least 12 colonies and you can ramp up or down from there -could turn out to be a gold mine -but on the other hand i would worry about pesticide and clean water that is free of pesticide -alot depends on the crops they grow  RDY-B
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Frantz
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2008, 09:13:49 AM »

Very good point, I did not think about asking about their fertilizers and pesticides. I think that it is an all organic farm, but I am not sure. I will check into that.
So you think that I should start with 12? I have a truck and trailer and all. So that is not a problem. I just need to get an idea of the number of hives to effectively work this farm. I don't want to put a 40 watt bulb out and expect to get sufficient heat and light. You know what I mean. But if I tell this farmer that I will charge $50 per hive and we should need 5 hives, and we need 10. That is a big difference. I want enough hives out there to make the farmer happy he spent the money.
Thanks everyone for the opinions.
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2008, 04:23:36 PM »

In terms of crop difference, if he's growing something that requires pollination there's a HUGE difference.  I don't have a huge farm, just a backyard garden, and this year we've had a big problem getting pollination... the difference between what was blooming when the mason bees were active and those that were not is like night and day here.  The tomato's that were blooming when the mason bees were still active got about 30-40% of their flowers pollinated.  As a consequence, I'm getting 2-3 tomato's per cluster (normally I would get 8-10), those that bloomed just a few weeks later (including later blooms on the ones that had produced earlier) are giving no tomato's per cluster... the flowers just wilt away to nothing.  It scares the crap out of me, to be honest with you.

If I had a full farm, I would be more than willing to pay $50 per hive... though I'd be more likely to start keeping my own bees than renting them.  But the bottom line is that the difference in yield is more than worth your asking price.
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