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Thread: Bees per acre

  1. #1
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    Kent, Michigan, USA
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    Default Bees per acre

    Does any one know how many bees it takes to service a given area of orchard trees?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    Two per acre on apples.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    Depends if they have cut their dandelions before the apple bloom. If the dandelions are still present, the bees will have to have apple blooms placed in their entrances before they leave in the a.m. otherwise, you may need more. Big difference with the pollination of Delicious, which pollinate from the sides and need more as well as pears. OMTCW

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    When you say two per acre, does that mean two bees per acre or two hives per acre? Also, is it any different for cherry trees?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    Two hives per acre of apple trees. Maybe more for cherries. I don't do cherries.

    Are these youir own trees or a managed orchard?

    I never heard that before Orchard Hill. I put 332 colonies into apple orchards in the Champlain Valley of NY. They do mow the dandelions, but there are still plenty of them. And I have never seen it make a difference to the apple crop. The bees that work the trees don't work the dandelions and vice versa.

    There are actual recommendations for hives per acre for pollination of cultivated crops such as fruits and vegetables. Check your county extension office for their bulletins.

    Were I home I could look up whatever fruit tree you want to pollinate in my USDA Handbook on Pollination of Cultivated Crops. I imagine there is online info available somewhere.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    These are not my trees, but my neighbors" managed orchards. They have primarily cherries, but also some apples and then a smaller amount of other fruit trees. I am not necessarily trying to service their trees. They have bees brought in by the local beekeeper, but they are thrilled that I have decided to embrace this new hobby.

    My question really comes from the fact that my brother-in-law has planted a new orchard and I intend to establish bees in his orchard for both his and my future benefit. As he says, "I got to pay some one to manage bees for my orchard, I might as well pay you." I like that thought process.

    So, thinking ahead I was wondering how many bees/colomies I should plan for.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    Yes, think in terms of Colonies per acre, not bees per acre. That's what most of us do.

    Unless your brother in law is planting acres and acres of trees and managing them on a commercial/semi comm. basis, he may not really need extra pollination from your cols. But it couldn't hurt. I have a neighbor who has an apple orchard of five acres. He doesn't want supplemental pollination and makes an acceptible crop of apples on what pollination happens naturally.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    [QUOTE=sqkcrk;638342]

    I never heard that before Cedar Hill. I put 332 colonies into apple orchards in the Champlain Valley of NY. They do mow the dandelions, but there are still plenty of them. And I have never seen it make a difference to the apple crop. The bees that work the trees don't work the dandelions and vice versa."
    Dandelion nectar is greater in sugar content than apple nectar and is secreted freely at lower temperatures. The honeybees can distinguish between nectar showing a 5% difference in the sugar content, and they always prefer the sweetest solution. That's why the beekeeper should trick the bees into going to the apples by cutting small branches of bloom and placing the open bloom in their entrances right after pulling the screens, if the dandelions are plentiful. Also, some orchard owners are very cognizant of the over pollination that can and will take place by leaving the bees in too long during certain types of spring weather. It is important to bring them in and take them out for some of them right on time, otherwise they will have to spray to thin their crop in order to avoid the smaller size apples. There are so many other variables ie. a late frost hitting the bloom - the effects of which only show up later with the apple set. I used to put in 350. OMTCW

  9. #9

    Default Re: Bees per acre

    I have found that some apple growers are hesitant to pay for alot of bees. The orchards we did in Indiana only wanted 1 hive per acre. He would end up thining out the set anyway. Two hives per acre is always what I recommended and suggested that they mowed down the dandilions before i set the bees.
    Columbia City, Indiana

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    It is important to bring them in and take them out for some of them right on time, otherwise they will have to spray to thin their crop in order to avoid the smaller size apples.
    That is the problem with productions apples they are heavily doused with chems. If it was an organic orchard it would be good for the bees but most are not.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Camas, WA
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    In our commercial cherry orchard, we always used one hive per acre. I'm surprised that apple orchards want 2/acre. Our apple trees in our cherry orchard got over pollinated and I think that some apple orchards remove the bees before the bloom is over to keep from thinning so much.

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    That is the problem with productions apples they are heavily doused with chems. If it was an organic orchard it would be good for the bees but most are not.
    Thinning is done after pollination once fruit set can be assessed.

    Tom

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Bees per acre

    I don't see anything wrong with smaller apples. The apples today are so big they are like a whole meal. If you are hungry after eating one small apple you can always have another one. If you are full after eating half of one of those big ones what do you do with the other half?

    Over the years we have developed ridiculous expectations about food items.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

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