... Hello to our friends across the wide blue ocean and greetings from "Down Under" - I was hoping to get some comments from ones who have experience offering beehives for pollination of plums, apricots and melons...
G-day to yew mate.
I don't know much about pollinating stone fruit. Since this happens in the early spring my guess is that you would need to feed a sugar or brood rearing stimulant and a pollen substitute to get an early build up so you can command the best prices for pollination services of your ladies.
The pollination of cucurbits, (cantaloupes, honeydew melons, cucumbers, mush melons, water melons, pumpkins, gourds, and summer as well as winter squash etc. is another matter. I can't tell you what to charge but remember honeybees loath working melons or cucurbits, and will usually only do so if nothing better is available. It is even recommended that farmers mow or chemically burn down weeds and wild flowere in and around melon fields in order to FORCE honey bees to pollinate these crops.
I think there should be a sign outside every melon field that reads,
"THE BEEKEEPER WHO ENTERS HERE LOSES ALL HOPE OF A HONEY CROP.
The hives you used in the stone fruit orchards will work in the melon fields, just remember to charge enough to pay for the extra time and feed to make up for the honey and pollen your bees missed out on while they were working melons, essentially for you.
Maybe the below link will help.http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/pollination/crop-pollination.html