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beginnerhives
09-30-2010, 09:31 PM
I had a friend ask me to put some hives on their apple orchard. they also have mint growing. I want to make sure I pollinate their apple farm but not overkill. How many hives per acre? I will probably make splits in the spring and take the splits to the apple farm.

camero7
10-01-2010, 04:36 AM
I recommend at least 2 hives/acre for proper pollination. These should be good hives, not spring splits, especially in the north.

Oldbee
10-01-2010, 07:35 AM
My parents had a 24 acre apple orchard. When the number of bee hives was reduced to about 5, the apples were still pollinated well. They were always strong ongoing hives at blossom time though. There was never a year [except for cold weather] when there was a shortage of apples because of a lack of pollination. Oftentimes, some varieties had to be thinned of the fruit set. Apples can be pollinated by many other native insects. If it is for a friend with 5-10 acres of orchard, a few hives [3-6?] would do the job. If there is an issue with moving/transporting hives, splits or small overwintered hives should be fine also. If it was a paid pollination contract for a large orchard, that might be different.

Mint probably blooms later in the summer. One can certainly smell it when driving through an area where it's grown, especially on warm summer evenings. > "Mint is grown primarily in eight states: Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin." :) > http://www.wisconsinmint.org/annual%20production.htm

JOHNYOGA2
10-01-2010, 08:35 AM
I don't want to hi-jack this thread, but do apple blossoms produce a lot of nectar? If Beginnerhives puts several strong hives in the orchard how many supers would he need to put on them? Should he expect to be harvesting a super a week or so? I always thought that the trees got more out of the pollenation process then the bees did.

Ron Mann
10-01-2010, 08:51 AM
I am wondering the same thing.

There are no longer any large orchards in this area, but every back yard, up and down the road, has a couple of apple trees in them.

Oldbee
10-01-2010, 09:29 AM
I would think, that with some strong overwintered colonies that are managed right, an apple blossom [fruit blossom] honey harvest might be possible. One year, my hives got honey bound in the upper deep brood box from the nectar flow, during that 2-3 weeks from the end of April to middle of May apple/fruit blooming time [around here] before I realized what was happening and put supers on. The hives swarmed,..:doh:. There is a 5 acre orchard and other scattered trees near the hives. Don't know about harvesting a super a week though since it only lasts about a week - 10 days.

I have seen honey labeled as apple blossom at some farmer's markets; don't know how much 'truth' there is in that. An apple orchard is very aromatic at blossom time. The nectar flow may depend on having some nice hot/warm days. That doesn't always happen when apples are blooming.

JOHNYOGA2
10-01-2010, 09:58 AM
Oldbee,
I was reading a book by Michael Phillips about organic orchard techniques and he recommended mowing the property under the trees before the blossoms popped so that the dandilions didn't draw more bees then the trees. That led me to wonder just how great the nectar flow from the trees would be. I suspect though, if you're paying for pollenation services, you want to maximize your chances. And I agree, there is probably a lot of variation in flow from year to year. A lot of apple trees, it appears, produce heavily one year and lightly the next.

beedeetee
10-01-2010, 09:04 PM
For cherries (our apple trees are in the orchard and get pollinated along with the cherries) we use one hive per acre. I suspect that apples would be similar.

Brent Bean
10-04-2010, 02:08 AM
Try this link http://www.beeculture.com/content/pollination_handbook/index.cfm

concrete-bees
10-10-2010, 07:18 AM
with apples i would go with 2-4 per acer - and keep them on there until the last blooms are done

with cherries - 2 hives per acer BUT - pull them off about 10-14 days after you set the hives

and here is why .... apples need every part of the flower pollenated - if it does not get all stamen pollenated the ending fruit will be miss shapen-

with cherries - you want a small number of blooms to turn into fruit
its better to have 50,000 plump cherries rather then 200,000 small cherries
so if you pull the hives off of them they will have fewer cherries per tree , that way the tree can take more energy to plump them instead of trying to plump all of them - ending result of that is Massive spring drop of fruit


hope this helps you

bigbearomaha
10-10-2010, 08:25 AM
From "Honeybee pollination of fruit tree
crops" by Russell Goodman, Knoxfield in Sept, 1994...

( I have used this article as a guide in my pollinating activities and so far, have been pretty successful)


Cross-pollination is required for apples to bear good crops.
The greater the number of ovules fertilised, the greater the
likelihood that the fruit will successfully compete for the
tree nutrients and will continue to develop up to harvest.
High seed numbers will ensure better shaped fruit and
improved keeping qualities.
Three to five colonies of bees per hectare should be used to
obtain maximum pollination. The higher stocking rates
should be used in orchards with high density plantings as
there are more flowers per hectare. Wind is not an effective
vector of apple pollen.

because he mentions that apples require cross pollination, from the same article he says in regard to cross-pollination...


Where cross-pollination is required, the orchard layout
should be carefully planned. Polliniser varieties should be
adjacent to each other and must flower at the same time if
bees are to be effective in their pollinating role.
For effective cross-pollination, the best orchard layout as
far as bee activity is concerned is to have polliniser grafts
in each tree....


btw, a hectare is not quite 2.5 acres ( more like 2.47) so a round about might be if you take the middle ground of his recommendation and use 4 hives per hectare, you might think of placing 2 hives per acre and come out pretty well.

Also, it might be of interest in hive placement, he suggests...


As mentioned previously, colonies should be distributed
evenly throughout the orchard. The ideal method is to
place single hives throughout the crop. This is not always
practical due to transport and topography restrictions. In
these situations it is more practical to site colonies in small
groups evenly throughout the area. Remember, it is
preferable that all trees are no further than 150 metres from
a colony.

150 metres = 492.12 ft/164 yards

that comes in handy when you think of placing hives at the outside perimeter of the orchard, you might want to be sure that the center trees in the orchard are within 150 or so yards of the perimeter where you place the bees. Depending on the size of the orchard, you might need to set the hives within the orchard perimeter to give the bees successful access to the center of the orchard

Since you are considering using spring splits for pollination, you might want to go to the maximum number of hives suggested and place 3 or even 4 small hives per acre as most pollination accounts look forward to having at least 8 full combs of brood plus relative numbers of adults per hive.

Good luck.

Big Bear

Discover-beekeeping
10-10-2010, 03:05 PM
Beekeeping and the Apple Orchards

The country is full of apple orchards. Apple orchards are where the apples you buy in the supermarket come from. Applesauce is made out of apples grown in orchards. People who drink apple juice and apple cider enjoy the produce provided by the hardworking orchard owners. Without apple orchards there would be no apple pies. The world would be a sadder place without apple orchards.

In the springtime people drive past apple orchards and see tidy row after tidy row of apple trees, their spreading boughs fragrant with the scent of delicate apple blossoms. In the summer they can drive past the same orchard and see the same trees, leaves shining in the sunshine. In the fall those same trees are laden with apples, crunchy and full of juice. In the winter, the spreading limbs of the apple trees spread wide and are blanketed with a layer of glittering snow. When they stop to admire the artistic trees they notice that unlike other types of agriculture endeavors the only time they see anyone working amongst the trees is when the trees are heavy with fruit and the farmers are picking the apples. It doesn't take very long for the passer bys to start thinking about how easy it would be to own an orchard. When the opportunity to purchase an apple orchard comes along, these people can hardly walk away from the opportunity.

The reality is that there is a lot more to owning an apple orchard then picking apples and pulling in money.

The casual passerby thinks that owning an apple orchard won't be much work, the reality is that a great deal of backbreaking labor goes into maintaining the orchard. The trees have to be pruned. The trees have to be sprayed to protect them from being ravished by insects. In addition to caring for the trees there is a lot of general maintenance chores that have to be taken care of. There is also the task of removing the old, unproductive trees and replacing them with young trees.

The next thing to consider when purchasing an apple orchard is the size of the orchard. According to the experts an apple orchard has to be at least ten acres large in order to break even. That's just breaking even. In theory a larger orchard means a larger profit margin for the orchard owner, but a larger orchard also means that the owner will have to buy more insecticide, rotate more trees, hire more employees, and spend more money on the equipment needed to maintain the orchard and harvest the apple crop.

Perhaps the biggest error newcomers to the apple orchard business make in the spring time when the apple trees are in bloom. In order for the trees to bear fruit the flowers have to be pollinated. Although the wind can help pollinate the flowers, honey bees are better. Many new orchard owners think that there are enough bees in the wild to pollinate the acres of apple trees. These owners are making an assumption that could harm their yearly yield. Experienced owners know that to ensure they get a profitable harvest they need to work with local beekeepers. They lease the hives and the honey bees from the beekeepers. The hive owners set up the hives in the orchards. The extra bees assist in the pollination.

For extra info. take a look at my blog.

http://startingatbeekeeping.blogspot.com/

BeeCurious
10-10-2010, 05:10 PM
What about spraying?

The following was sent to me by an entomologist after I asked about the use of Phosmet and mancozeb.

"Petal fall sprays are sometimes a "problem" for bees because the weeds on the orchard floor are still in bloom and some years they "rush" that spray and there is bloom still hanging on for some apple varieties yet blooming in the orchard. This is largely the reason orchardists - once beekeepers - are out of the bee business. So yes there is some risk with within or adjacent to orchards for a bee apiary. This spray has and does cause bee losses. In our CCD studies we have located bees in orchards in PA to look at a comparison of Heavy spray application vs reduced spray applications - results will take a couple of years to see what is going on.
Unfortunately it is is still recommended that bee colonies NOT be located within orchards and preferably be 1 or more miles distance. You might never have any problems but the potential is there."

I guess you need to get the hives in and out to avoid harm...

beginnerhives
10-10-2010, 06:45 PM
Yes I just went to bee club today and I am re thinking putting the hives on the orchard. I am going to talk to them about spraying. I might consider if they do not spray when I have my hives there. I hear that spraying for fungus is the worse? I have other choices like a organic farm with buckwheat and alfalfa which now sounds like the better choice.

BeeCurious
10-10-2010, 06:57 PM
My understanding is that you have to get good money for apple pollination because you risk having some messed up bees afterwards ...

How well do you know, and can you trust the owners and the employers?

beedeetee
10-10-2010, 07:47 PM
with apples i would go with 2-4 per acer - and keep them on there until the last blooms are done

with cherries - 2 hives per acer BUT - pull them off about 10-14 days after you set the hives

and here is why .... apples need every part of the flower pollenated - if it does not get all stamen pollenated the ending fruit will be miss shapen-

with cherries - you want a small number of blooms to turn into fruit
its better to have 50,000 plump cherries rather then 200,000 small cherries
so if you pull the hives off of them they will have fewer cherries per tree , that way the tree can take more energy to plump them instead of trying to plump all of them - ending result of that is Massive spring drop of fruit


hope this helps you

Concrete-bees, where did you get that information?

We still own a commercial cherry orchard. We don't pull hives early. We water a lot. What you find if the weather gets bad at the end (kind of like pulling hives early) is that you have heavy crops around where the hives are and thin crops farther away, not a nice even thinner crop.

I know apple growers that pull hives early, after the king blossom has been pollinated to keep the thinning work down.

We have always used one hive per acre for cherries.