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  1. #101
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    6,550

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    It is a big difference between someone with a few colonies in the back yard, or even between a sideliner with a couple hundred but who has other income and the family that solely depends on those colonies for their entire sustenance and often the sustenance of employee's families as well.

    Sheri
    This brings to mind an issue I've thought about when members begin asking about such things as "How many hives..." and "How much money..." as they contemplate keeping bees for a living.

    As a commercial beekeeper, have you seen a change in the number of beekeeping operations in the last 10 years and has there been a change in their size?

    I'm wondering if the realtive ease with which one can enter the business combined with ready access to information and equipment and the increased public profile of beekeeping has had a measurable impact on the industry. When I joined Beesource.com there were just a few hundred members and now there are over 9,000. Does that translate into the number of people trying to keep bees as a business?




    Shoot, I forgot to ask my initial question...

    Is there a possibility of a change in the way we keep bees "commercially" to the extent that we wil have more individual operations maintaining fewer hives per operation and managing those hives more intensely for higher efficiencies when it comes to pollination and honey production?
    Last edited by Barry Digman; 09-27-2009 at 01:06 PM. Reason: To ask the question

  2. #102
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,552

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by JBG View Post
    I just had no choice but to save my gals from the mites with formic acid pads yesterday.....
    JBG, your sentiment is exactly that of most of us. No beekeeper treats his bees just for the fun of it. No, they don't feel better just to be putting something in the hive. Most of us are too time and cash strapped to waste time and money doing something unnecessary. In a perfect world, bees would fight off the mites themselves and thrive through Nosema C infections, but most beeks have learned, just like you, that sometimes, to save your colony, the best option is to medicate them. We ALL wish it weren't so.
    Sheri

  3. #103
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Boston, Georgia
    Posts
    466

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    The way we keep bees "commercially" has been changing. The number of hives per employee has gone down over the past 10 years. Many of us were quick to notice the shortcomings of the the "letalone" system and have changed visiting schedules. We used to visit a hive once every 4-6 weeks during the summer, now its 3-5 depending on wheather they're pollenating or attempting to make honey. The only way to increase visits without scaling down is to add good workers, which of course increases costs. One depressing fact my father pointed out to me is that our bottem line is still less now with 2500 hives than it was in 1988 with 1000.
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 09-27-2009 at 02:14 PM. Reason: unnecessary quote
    I am holding on to the hope I have inside... Kutless

  4. #104
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,552

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Interesting questions Barry
    I think the majority of new beekeepers are hobbyists. I've seen a huge increase in interest in beekeeping as a hobby locally and I suspect some will get bitten so hard they will want to move into commercial operation. I know of a couple cases of this here but they are far outnumbered by those just wanting a couple for the back yard, for personal honey and enjoyment.
    We have seen increased commercial operators as well, and also an increase in size of many of the operations we have been familiar with for years. I think you can safely blame that on the almonds. This increase in cash flow justifies more hired help which allows for more bees and to justify keeping someone employed you need enough work to keep them busy, again, this requires more bees. As Denny says, if you resist adding more bees than you do employees to work them you can gain in efficiency not lose. But many commercials are so used to be overworked they just add more bees for everyone to still be overworked.
    I know of a couple cases where these employees branched out on their own as well, sometimes hitching rides with their employer to almonds.

    Larger operations have the benefits of size but also there are the drawbacks you hit on. While there are efficiencies of a larger scale, there is often lower honey production per colony. Size still seems to have the upper hand as more bees, even with smaller per hive production, are necessary to bring home the bacon. Of course, everything is local and retailing one's hive products can help but I don't know of any commercials that make a majority of their income from retailing.
    Personally, we only pollinate almonds and in that situation the more bees the cheaper per colony to stay out there and do whatever needs to be done to them.
    All that said, John and I say every year we are cutting back on numbers so life is less frantic.
    Sheri

  5. #105
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    FRASER VALLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Barry:

    I'm under the impression that operations have gotten larger over the last 10 years. On the commercial side of things the industry is aging. The trend for all agricultural production has been towards larger operations, beekeeping is no exception. One bright light in the last 5 years of american beekeeping has been good almond pollination fees. Now that could be changing, time will tell, with the water restrictions, pricing of almonds etc... Without that good fee many a commercial guy would have been gone. The only other bright light is the renewed interest in hobby beekeeping. So there seems to be some new blood. Of the many a few will be shinning stars and will rise to the ranks of commercial beekeeping.

    Beekeeping does have one really good thing going for it. You can start with one hive in the spring and end up with 5 in the fall. Next spring you can split again to bring the numbers up. As beekeepers we can start with a modest amount of hives and if we have the drive, ambition and skills can end up with a colossal amount of hives. It's impossible to take 1 acre of land of make 5 acres of land from the 1. That's the great thing about beekeeping. Fom every hive a have this year I sold either a hive or a nuc from it and yet I still have it. It's kinda like the stock market, I sold it and yet I still have it.

    In beekeeping you have to be able to keep them alive, then you need to be able to make hives explode, then you need to be able to take advantage of the strong hives either through bee sales pollination jobs or honey production.

    I think the toughest part in American beekeeping are the poor prices being paid to the producers. Today's price is ok to good, not fantastic. I'm speaking more of the historical prices paid to producers. As a producer if Iget good prices it's easier to spend more money on labour, patties, liquid sucrose queens if it's what it takes to keep them alive and well.

    Jean-Marc

  6. #106
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,167

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Bud Dingler View Post
    In the upper midwest our hives are typically packed full with pollen and honey by October. right now my 2 story hives have little brood but the upper deep is jam packed with honey and pollen and the cluster is in the bottom deep.
    .
    Septemer 1st I sent a couple semi loads of pollen sub to a keeper in the north east corner of N Dakota. He put on seven pounds of sub per hive.

    Funny thing, he said last week all the hives that got sub were brooding, the hives that didn't get any were broodless.


    You can lead a mule to water but you can't force it to drink.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  7. #107
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Tamworth, NSW Australia
    Posts
    259

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    When we learn what High Fructose Corn Syrup is doing to our kids, it seems impossible to believe that it is not pivotal in CCD. For sure it is not the only factor, there are too many strong contenders to contribute, but the commercialisation of bees has always brought out the weaknesses in the species.

    Pollination is far more 'commercialised' than honey production, in that the health of the bee is not directly measured by their best product. Get it wrong in honey production, and you're broke. Get it wrong in pollination, and you may still get paid, assuming you present with some bees.

    It other words, getting it wrong is more permissible in pollination than in honey production. Pollination is more 'forgiving.'

    There are times when all of ones chickens come home to roost. Times when all of ones problems present at the one time. Times when lady luck is on vacation. Call it what you will. When the planets line up against bees, they are as helpless as we are against such bad vibes.

    If it were only the bees that are in trouble, one could look hard and long at these specific factors, but if you don't observe that the whole world is in trouble, in myriad ways, then please let me know which newspaper you read.

    Saturn and Uranus are in opposition. This too shall pass! Lady Luck will come back! My challenge is to still be here for her homecoming!

    Cheers,
    JohnS

  8. #108
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,167

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by John Smith View Post
    When we learn what High Fructose Corn Syrup is doing to our kids, it seems impossible to believe that it is not pivotal in CCD. Cheers,
    JohnS
    Just keep in mind John that kids grow up and hopfully last 75+ years, the bees don't even make it 75 days.

    But your point is well taken.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  9. #109
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    lake geneva wi
    Posts
    458

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Hey there JS, Missed ya! That HFC is way overused I like pure organic Brazil cane myself. You are right about Honey Production. Are you in the know on astronomy? I got a design that needs somebody who knows what a siderial drive is. Same as it ever was. Keep in mind the Universe is a big place! More to it than a few planets.
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 09-28-2009 at 06:46 AM. Reason: unnecessary quote

  10. #110
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Tamworth, NSW Australia
    Posts
    259

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    I hear you, Keith, but unfortunately I don't share your optimism. Obesity is a killer. It will take another miracle to keep the average age from plummeting.

    Have you read the book, "The Honey Revolution" yet?

    Unfortunately we are all locked into the system for the sake of our livelihood. It may be a mistake. When our outgoings exceed our income, our upkeep becomes our downfall!

    With one third of western populations obese, another third leaning that way, one has to ask himself just how sustainable we are. Can the remaining third bear up under the weight?

    Eat Honey, feed it to your kids, leave some for your bees, make your honey buyer pay.

    Cheers,

    JohnS

  11. #111
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Middlesex, MA USA
    Posts
    310

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Newbie here. If the CA almond growers want pollinators, why don't they keep their own bees? Lots of crops in CA so there should be a long nectar/pollen season. And if bees can't survive in CA - well, that's significant, right there.

  12. #112
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
    Posts
    2,982

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by KelpticFest View Post
    Newbie here. If the CA almond growers want pollinators, why don't they keep their own bees? .
    I am sure there are some that do just that. But I bet it is extremely difficult to have both the skills of a Commercial beek and the skills of a Commercial Orchardman.

  13. #113
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Middlesex, MA USA
    Posts
    310

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    In turn, that sounds like an excellent job opportunity for Californians. Can't tell me they're over-employed out there ...

  14. #114
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Panola County, TX USA
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    the bees need nourishment not mono culture

  15. #115
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,167

    Lightbulb Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by benstung View Post
    the bees need nourishment
    Stop! we have the winning answer.

    Benstung, I didn't know you had the cure for CCD. lol
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  16. #116
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Monte Vista, CO 81144
    Posts
    244

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    How in the world do you all have time to blog this much in the spring? Theres bees to be made in them thar hills. This memo may shed some light.............or not. Big Ag is not helping us or themselves. Rumor has it that Clothianidin is being linked to white nose syndrome in bats, and amphibian deaths as we type.

    http://www.beyondpesticides.org/poll...memo110210.pdf
    Pony up some dough and lets get on the Mass GC.

  17. #117
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
    Posts
    2,982

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    If the population of this planet was about 10% of what it currently is... we probably could feed it's inhabitants with far more natural (and sustainable) means..... but until then - I can't figure it out.

  18. #118
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Adams Co., Colorado, USA
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by KelpticFest View Post
    Newbie here. If the CA almond growers want pollinators, why don't they keep their own bees? Lots of crops in CA so there should be a long nectar/pollen season. And if bees can't survive in CA - well, that's significant, right there.

    Around a lot of the orchards, there really isn't much else. It seems strange to say that there isn't a year-round food supply for bees in California... but that's monoculture for you.

    Or like here... I can drive 50 miles down a road and see nothing but wheat on either side. Occasionally a pivot or two of corn, and that's your biodiversity in industrial farm-land.

  19. #119
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Rome NY USA
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: The Last Beekeeper

    Does anyone know when it is going to be on tv again?

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