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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
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    385

    Default Canola polination

    I have come across a farmer about 5 miles away with about 15 acres of canola planted and I would like to see if I can get some colonies there in the spring. I believe bees could enhance the yield up to 20% so there could be some mutual benefit for myself and the farmer involved. I would also have to consider any spraying of fungicide or insecticide . So can any of you guys that work canola enlighten me a little on the pitfalls I might encounter. I believe that 1 colony per acre would be the minimum required so I would be prepared to put out about 15 colonies and see what honey could be gained from this exercise. Any helpful advice would be appreciated.
    Johno

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    3,326

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Oh you will get plenty of honey from canola, the trick is to extract it before it crystalizes, the stuff is worse than pure goldenrod.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    8,001

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Once it's ready, be sure to extract it
    Makes great creamed honey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Seed canola is pollinated at a rate of 1.5-2 hives per acre. Canola will only bloom for a few weeks when there's heat, so make sure you have alternate forage or plan to move the hives when it's finished. The maximum benefit for the farmer is when the hives are in the middle of the field, but with such a small acreage, I don't think you need to worry about it. You will definitely want to ensure that any spraying is done before bloom or very early morning/late evening.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    385

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Thanks for the input guys, I can leave my colonies on the canola until the end of April that's when my crimson clover will start to bloom then on about the 5th of May black locust should be starting to bloom. So I will have empty supers on the colonies when I put them into the canola and when I move them out I will extract what is in the supers and see how it goes. I will not be charging anything for pollination as I would like to encourage local farmers to plant more canola which I think replaces wheat in their 3 crop rotation. As for creamed honey I have never made that before so will look into that if and when I have some honey from canola. Is there any truth in bee pollination will increase canola yield, Ian should know, as I need to convince the farmer that there will be something in it for him.
    Johno

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Canola grown for oil production in the prairies is self pollinating and will gain very little from bee pollination. The beekeeper is the one who gets the benefit.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Quote Originally Posted by dgl1948 View Post
    Canola grown for oil production in the prairies is self pollinating and will gain very little from bee pollination. The beekeeper is the one who gets the benefit.
    Check this factsheet Besides increased yields from germination, one key benefit of honeybees is a shorter bloom period of 3-4 days which reduces potential for certain diseases. Shelly Hoover, researching in Lethbridge, AB presented some updates to this research at our November AGM in Edmonton.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    385

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Thanks for that factsheet, it certainly is in favour of pollination. I did not know that all canola or rape was self pollinated and even so honey bee pollination still does increase yields. I will get the factsheet off to the farmer concerned and I am sure he will be interested. Thanks again.
    Johno

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Saskatchewan, Canada
    Posts
    285

    Default Re: Canola polination

    There are several studies on the benefits of bees and the pollination of canola. Shelly Hoover's results show as little as a 5% increase in some of her work. The results are all over the map. But still the real benefit of bees in canola go to the beekeeper.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Quote Originally Posted by dgl1948 View Post
    There are several studies on the benefits of bees and the pollination of canola. Shelly Hoover's results show as little as a 5% increase in some of her work. The results are all over the map. But still the real benefit of bees in canola go to the beekeeper.
    I can't argue the point that much of the benefit go to the beekeeper. But if I was a canola farmer and a beekeeper told me I would get the potential of even a minimum 5% increased yield for no effort on my part besides a few unfarmable square feet at the edge of my field, I'd take that every day of the week. BTW, she does state that maximum yield increases come when the bees are in the center of the field....makes sense, but it'd be a hard sell to most growers.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    8,001

    Default Re: Canola polination

    For all the $$$ farmers spend on fractional production improvements, they are very receptive to hear about fractional production improvements from zero investment. My farmers are more than accommodating to have my hives close to their fields

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    385

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Yes I would think the farmer in question would be interested in a 5% gain in yield at no cost to himself. I gather that the yield increases would depend on weather and the colony density per acre, I think some of the higher gains have been due to about 4 colonies per acre which might be good for the farmer but not the beekeeper, think 4 times the work and not much more honey than from 1 hive per acre. This is the second year the farmer is doing canola so he could have an idea of any gains after harvesting.
    Johno

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    8,001

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Considering all the variables, fractional increases are impossible to measure... big ag spends billions on showing us those gains

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Martin, Tn
    Posts
    134

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Johno, I am in the exact same boat you are. I have a farmer a few miles up the road from me that has grown canola the past couple years. Last year i got in touch with him and he agreed to let me put some hives on about 80 acres. The place I am putting them is literally the corner of the field. I only have a few hives so I am basically just using the canola to jump start splits and use as an outyard. I am hoping that I can get a density good enough so he sees a difference on his yield monitor. I'm hoping if things go well with him I can use his reference as a way to get pollinating contracts in the future. Luckily for me the farmer across the street from me decided to plant 100 acres of canola as well so my home apiary should get a boost too.
    Jason Young

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    946

    Default Re: Canola polination

    More canola more bees....
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    385

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Jason for the farmer to really benefit from pollination you would need at least 1 hive per acre. Anyway good luck.
    Johno

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Martin, Tn
    Posts
    134

    Default Re: Canola polination

    I understand, i would just assume that the plants closer to the hives would get better pollination then on say, the other side of the field. Maybe he will be able to tell come harvest time. Hopefully in the next 3-4 years i will be able to build up enough to fully pollinate the whole field
    Jason Young

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Saguache,Colorado,usa
    Posts
    139

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Please do not take my word as gospel but I put bees on conola grown for seed. In that situation you have small rows of all male plants and large rows of female plants. The male plants get mowed down some before the bloom ends to ensure there are blooming males for the duration since they typically bloom first. Only a few days. Anyway oilseed canola I believe is all female plants therefore pollination is a mute point. If you do pollinate seed canola from my observations and one Canadian study I read states that there is a benefit to not having bees on during the first part of the bloom. By stressing the plants by not pollinating them they put out more blooms thus more pods. Last year as soon as bees were placed it rained a lot for 2 weeks and little flight time, and we had the highest yields.

    On a side note not all varieties produce as much honey so if you only get 30 lbs per hive do not be surprised. I did get 60 lbs on a few hives but most will say the average is 30 and less than that on some of the newer varieties.

    Another thing, there is a fungicide often sprayed on canola that I believe is called squash. Makes bees really pissed off. There is also worm that gets into the pods so some fields may get sprayed with a pesticide if this happens get yours bees out before hand but stay in contact with the farmer most will let you know but often loose your number somehow lol

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    385

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Thanks for the info bendriftin, how long were your bees on canola. I am lucky to get an average of 45lbs of honey per hive over the spring flow so if I can get 30lbs off 2 to 3 weeks on canola I will be laughing all the way to the bank, by the way that spring flow is all I get for the year.
    Johno

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    3,499

    Default Re: Canola polination

    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    I can leave my colonies on the canola until the end of April that's when my crimson clover will start to bloom then on about the 5th of May black locust should be starting to bloom.
    This is interesting. So, when are the expected start and end bloom dates for the canola? I would like to squeeze in a strong flow before the 1st of May. However, I absolutely wouldn't want an agricultural flow to conflict with the main spring flow. Our main flow, Tulip poplar, typically starts near the end of April.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

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