Is there a source for info on starting a pollination business?
How many hives per flatbed semi?
How large a semi is required to haul 400 hives?
Where to get pollination contracts?
Are there brokers?
What dates for almonds, apples, blueberries, etc.
What is the best All terrain forklift?
I have a ton of questions and can't seem to find a info source or business plan.
My goal is to have a single semi and flatbed and do almonds, apples or blueberries before the honey flow here in ND.
cadetman, sent you a private message.
Good questions Cadetman. Along the same line...is it realistic to try to do some pollination business with say "ten" hives? I haven't done any research, so I'm wondering if there are smaller growers out there who might only need a pickup truck load instead of a semi-truck load. I would also like to do some pollination biz next year...but only what I can haul in the truck or a small trailer.
Any thoughts about"small time" pollination biz welcomed.
I've been considering putting an ad in the local papers along the lines of "Small number of beehives available for pollination. No job too small."
I've decided to put that off for now though and focus on honey production/hive numbers.
One thing I KNOW you'll get a lot of is "Bring 'em out, I'll let you keep ALL the honey they make."
Thekeeper posted a question in the TBH forum about his hives dying in CA and not getting paid as a result, plus losing his hives. This makes me wonder; are beekeepers actually expected to turn over hives worth tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars without any guarantee that they will get the same number of hives back, in at least as close to the same condition they had been in?
Also, ABJ has an article about large scale pollination, February 2005 "Being adaptable in commercial beekeeping".
And I know Jim Fischer has written in the past about "cottage" pollination.
I intend to accompany my bees to each pollination site. I would procure my own semi and 48 foot flatbed and haul, place, and care for them myself.
More questions are:
How long can bees be "couped up" in transit without water??
I see other haulers with their loader on the back of the flatbed. How is this done? What is the name of the device that allows the loader/bobcat to ride on the back of the flatbed.
Thanks so much for the input!!
You have a lot of questions about pollination, and the truth is, there are no easy answers to any of them. I have been sending 2000-2500 hives to Calif. since 1986. Heres my best shot at some of your questions.
You can get about 400 hives on standard bee pallets on a 48 foot bed, if they are two deep boxes. If you run one deep and one med. you can get quite a few more on IF they are not too heavy, and IF your truck has a drop deck.
The best forklift is the swinger, but it is expensive. I used two homemade forklifts for years to save money. You are going out there to make money, so save it when you can.
On that subject, I think it is cheaper to have a carrier ship your bees than run your own semi. But thats up to you. Trucks don't make money when they are parked, and who has time to drive one all the time?
I don't like the bees to be on the truck more than three days at the most. Water usualy is not a problem in the winter, but in warm weather we water the truck a couple times a day. (The driver lays a soaker hose on top of the net when we load the truck)
As far as brokers go, there are a lot of them. Look in the bee journal for a start.
Good luck getting any apple contracts. The cometition for them after the almonds looks like a war. Low prices, and cut-throat beekeepers.
The almond bloom starts around Feb. 15th depending on what part of the valley you are in. It lasts about 30 days or so.
I just heard that I had 24 of my hives burned down right after I left. I will get half of my pollination fee, but next year my contract will read the grower is responsible for the bees while they are in his orchard. And no, we don't know why someone would pour gas on them and set them on fire, my guess is some one just like to burn things.
Perhaps it will be less competitive on the apples in Michigan??
By "dropdeck" are you referring to the lowboy style.
What does it cost to ship them out?? And how long do you stay after the hives are set?
I do not know anything about MI apples, I was talking about WA apples, which are real handy for the northern beekeepers after the almonds.
A drop deck is one of the trailors that is higher right above the tractor drivers and lower for the rest of the trailor. A lot of guys call low-boys the trailors you haul heavy equipment on.
With the price of fuel so high, the cost of shipping bees is around $2.00 a loaded mile.
I can get a fairly decent tractor for about $8K and 48' flatbeds are about $3k used.
I can pick up a few grain hauling jobs here to offset a bit. (I mean very few).
$2.00 per mile times what?? Say 1800 miles from here..... $7200 for 400 hives roundtrip. Payoff should be in 2 years of less. And that is just almonds.......
Of course I am talking small scale here.
With a loader on the back of the truck, I would call it a donkey, or so I have heard.
Does anyone have a success story to share with this dreamer? I want one too... Gregg, what did you share with him?
Hey Cadetman, if you can get a truck for that price, I'm sure you can make it pay. I just do not have time to run the bees and drive a truck too.
Keep in mind you will need a smaller truck to set the bees in the orchard, because most of them do not have room for the semi.
I've owned 2 semi's before.My son has 2 now.YOU talking about overhead,Tire's-ins-trucking right's with DOT-escrow-Do you have a CDL?
Hope it work's out for you,But them is a few thing's you need to check out 1st.
I just tried to answer some of his questions with what I know. Here goes: generally 384-408 double deeps can be carried on a 48 foot semi flatbed, or 456-544 story & a half's (all depends on weight). Pollination contracts for almonds will be available next year with what seems to the ever increasing demand for bees in CA, and there are brokers; advised him to search the web and look in the ABJ. Almonds generally bloom from early February to mid-March, apples after that, not sure about blueberries. The "best" forlift? Most guys I know use either a Swinger or Bobcat (I have a Bobcat), I think it depends on what a person gets used to (as they operate a little differently) and your personal preference.
We started pollinating almonds in 77.It was 12.oo per hive that year if I remember right.Prices were higher in the Central Valley because the Sacramento valley queen and package guys wanted to keep the out of state guys heading south,so they always would go in cheaper.Because of all the new plantings the price eventually equalized.This year prices are all over the map,as is hive quality.I saw one outfit that obviously had placed deadouts and very weak stuff in an orchard.I doubt if they will be coming back to that orchard as hives are inspected after being delivered.I heard lots of horror stories of truckloads of deadouts being sent back.This kind of expense will kill a business.So the emphasis has to be on delivering strong hives to the orchards.Hives coming in from the northern plains will normally be in great shape for pollinationg if the mites and nosema are under control.Hives coming from drought areas will need a feeding program in Sept. then again in early Jan. to have the bees.
Anyone considering getting into almond pollination should get a copy of Joe Traynors "Almond Pollination Handbook"It will answer a lot of your questions.
And of course you can follow the bloom daily on Blue Diamonds website: