The whole state of Calif.
Originally Posted by IndianaHoney
I'm charging $55/hive and am turning people away... I am taking business away from people who offer hives for $45 ... If you have the strong hives the growers will pay for quality. I already have people contacting me for next year! Maybe I should raise my prices!....
I was contacted from several folks to do pumpkin and pickles. I turned those down. One farmer contacted me later to inform me that he rented all hives for $35/hive to do his pickles. The beekeeper is truly hurting himself. When he can't make a go of it... down the line because his expenses exceed his revenue... then I or someone else will get the business.
then I or someone else will get the business.
FYI: I know some pollinators that refuse to place their hives in any of the vine crops.
You may need to check out the pesticides that are to be used and their timing on those cucumbers.
Hopefully your pollination works out.
Ernie Lucas Apiaries
Notice... I said I refused this year... there was a reason! That is why I added the "or someone else" comment. There IS a price that would make pollination of vine crops worthwhile. I'm not quite sure what that number is... but it's higher than what I would charge for blueberries, apples etc.
So... I left myself an out should the price not be worth it!
My best advice for picking up contracts
Word of mouth will get you more contracts. This is my second year for strawberries. They sell my honey at farmers markets too. They went to a steak roast for other growers.
Next day i had a guy begging me for bees. He had been convinced by my client that he absolutely had to have them.
These guys, like most farmers, love to talk. They love a joke. So be prepared to chew the fat and share some bee knowledge with them, try to work in some factoids. Usually they try to get by with too few hives. So be prepared to tell them what the extension agents say for number of hives for that crop per acre.
I think they lose a significant number of field bees. I pollinated apples in NY for 20 years. I always marked the strong colonies before pollination so I could make splits in the orchard. Many times, when I tried to make the split, the colony was weaker than the week before when I inspected. The brood was still there, but the population wasn't. I figured that I lost at least a medium of honey on colonies that pollinated apples. My bees were all located within 10 miles of the orchard, and were moved at night....once in, and once out. If you figure $1.50 for bulk honey now, then that medium is worth $60. Why pollinate for $40 or $50?
Originally Posted by McCheyne
"I have heard that if you are commercially pollinating, your return on honey is less than if you didn't pollinate.. I was wondering what are the reasons for this?"
Some years, such as this one, we pull the plug on honey production early and start getting them ready for almonds, before the fall crop is totally in. In the spring, with the bees coming back so big we hopefully make that loss up and then some. This past spring that didn't happen as it rained most of the time during nectar flows. Not only did they not make much honey, because they were larger than they would have been if wintered here, they ate up a lot of what they didn't make. Pollination bees are often out of kilter with the season of where they are at any one time.
Many pollination jobs usually mean a choice between honey production and pollination fees, cranberries being one that comes to mind. Beeks in FL often have to give up orange if they take their bees to California. With the higher honey prices we are enjoying, this will be a tougher choice than it was for the past several years.
north of the border
Here my bees go out the end of May for 3 weeks, they pay 110 per colonie. However it cost me 6000$ for 2 semi-trailers (transportation). 5 hour drive. I'm still conteplating on honey production vs pollination 2.75$ a lb x 100-150lbs per colonie . The hives get very stressed, you lose 7% of your queens. The weak hives left behind come out stronger than the others at the end of the season. Ideally I think half for pollination in case of bad crop and half for honey production.
$35 for pickles
I was talking to an inspector about a guy that was doing pumpkins with 2 frames of bees and the splits were queenless. That was in central IL. I wonder if he is the same guy in IN.
The bees that are used for pollination don't winter as well. If I had to put a number on it I'm guessing your going to loose 35% to 50% by spring. Some years are better than others. Making up the winter loss is a cost that is over looked. My pollinating hives are about half the strength as the ones that were on honey. I have been feeding them for 3 weeks hope they perk up. Next year I won't do vines for less than $75. It just isn't worth it.