Re: Have a Few Questions About Commercial Beekeeping
What is the most efficient and least costly way to attain bees for a starting beekeeper (Goal is 100 beehives)? I have three beehives right now that I will be able to split next summer, but this puts me short of my goal.
Id say buying brood frames mid march (california) and using a queen cell, while offering your help to another beek so you can hitch a ride down there.
On average, how many locations are you able to take bee hives to each season for pollination services?
Really this depends... almonds feb 1st, apples around april 1st, cranberries/blueberries june/july? However Bees need to be checked on and fed heavily to promote growth. When they are out in the apples and cranberries they do no gain weight and often lose it.
In a routine check, what is the average amount of time you spend checking one hive?
1 min? I usually make sure queen is good in may, once more in june. This requires pulling out middle frame and checking for brood. Sometimes if brood is spotty and the hive seems to have adequate feed/pollen then the queen will be found and destroyed which requires more time.
What are some methods you've used in strengthening colonies for over-wintering?
I think some beeks would not be willing to share their secrets... but the main thing is to keep mites down all year. Your bees will die during winter if your have 5% or greater mites..
In order to produce the most honey, while also being able to move the beehives to orchards for pollination, what would you recommend as the best hive set up and hive management methods?
I am not sure when the honey season for WA is.. but it is very possible that pollinating will overlap. I would rather get 1 or 2 pollinations and a honey crop over three pollinations and starved bees. I would recommend double deeps. This is a wide used standard and double require less attention. I would also think that in-hive feeders would be good. Spring splits are bread and butter.. you should do what you like to do.
What can I expect the first couple years of keeping bees?
negative to little profit and dead bees.
Any other advice is greatly appreciated
Main job of beekeeping is to turn sugar supplement into bees. Equipment wise all you need is a small tank and feeder. If you plan on doing almond pollination all on your own you will need at least a pickup, good back, and trailer.
I used to operate 700 hives with just a half ton and a 20' flatbed ball hitch trailer... rented a forklift
also.. it is not practical to hire anyone at all for any length of time vs 100 hives. This will require one day/week. If you are away, and you have a retired guy that lives close to feed your bees when they need it that would work.
Tanner Christianson - Woodside Honey LLC