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Thread: hives per acre?

  1. #1
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    Default hives per acre?

    Can you put as many hives in one area as you want or is there a rule of thumb to go by? Didn't know if to many hives would take away nectar from other hives.
    There is no INTELLIGENT life on any other planet, they're probably like us!!!!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    Lots of variables, like what is there available for the bees to feed on and in what quantity is it available? Most any yard in a "typical" suburban or rural setting should be able to support at least two.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    Whats in your 5 mile radius. I have 4 hives in my backyard and the girls are rarely in my yard, but I have forest preserves and tons of neighbors with beautiful flower gardens.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    The experts are saying bees forage 8000 acres whether you have one or 50. One commercial guy said to add hives until you see a dip in honey production per hive and then back off. Hobbyist have nothing to worry about.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  5. #5
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    This question keeps getting asked over and over again this season.

    How many do you have?
    How many do you want to have?
    How many are you comfortable working?

    If you ever find that you have more at one site that that sitye can support, let me know. I haven't found it yet.

    What are your goals?
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  6. #6
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    I have found that the only thing that slows me down is keeping up with building enough equipment.For me this is so far been a bumper crop. I've got some bees on a 28 acre soybean field that the farmer just got in the ground yesterday. However I just added 2nd and 3rd honey supers in that field.My hope is by the time the beans get to bloom time they will be the primary flow since they were late getting them in.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    Quote Originally Posted by ken rice View Post
    the farmer just got in the ground yesterday. However I just added 2nd and 3rd honey supers in that field
    must be a fast blooming variety
    Honeydew

  8. #8
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    If you are i the middle of 8000 acres of sweet clover, you can't put too many hives there...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    Honeydew, The reason so late we have had record breaking rain here in southern ohio. We just could not get into the fields.

  10. #10
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    Prior Lake, Minnesota, USA
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    We have 80 permanent hives in seven apairies (ranging from 14 to 8 hives per location) in a predominately agriculture/wetland landscape al within 5 miles of each other. This year we are going to 120 hives. I'd like to just have 3-4 apairies spread across our land to reduce time spent between apairies. What do you think about 30-40 hives per apiary? Each current apairy has adequate forage around it, but how can I tell if there is enough forage to handle more hives. The main forage crop around is alfafa, plus what ever is growing wild (dandelions, sweet clover, basswood, berries, plums, goldenrods, asters, etc.)

  11. #11
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    I find that some places 14 is about my limit and others I have 28 hives there and haven't hit a limit. To put things in perspective, here is an excerpt from the Australasian Bee Manual:

    "When a person of some experience decides to be-come a specialist in bee-keeping, and to give his whole attention to bee-farming, he must sooner or later estab-lish out-apiaries, that is apiaries apart, and at some distance away from, his first or “home” apiary. The number of colonies that can be profitably run in any one apiary depends of course, on the amount of bee forage available, and whether the locality within bee flight is occupied by other bee-keepers or not. If fairly free in this respect, and the pasturage good, from 100 to 150 would not be too many, taking many parts of New Zealand as my guide. I have myself run 200 colonies in one apiary with an average output of about 100 lbs. of honey per colony, and with another apiary of nearly 100 colonies less than two miles distant. Experience, however, is the best guide, and an observant man with his heart in his work will have no difficulty in deciding this question.

    "There is one point worth considering and that is, while it is not wise to overstock any one apiary to a large extent, it may pay better to do so a little rather than start another. For instance, say the home apiary would be fairly stocked with 100 colonies, it might be more profitable to put down 150 and get a little less average per colony, than to establish another several miles away, with all the trouble and expense of attending to it. It is quite possible to do better with larger and fewer apiaries, than with a greater number of smaller ones. It will also depend upon the amount of bee pasturage in the surrounding district as to the distance the apiaries should be apart. "--Isaac Hopkins, The Australasian Bee Manual

    I've heard similar numbers in turn of the century bee books in the US. Now with herbicides and roundup ready crops, 20 seems a more likely number.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    It may take more than an acre to place a semi load on, but I know some guys who do that. For the winter anyway.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  13. #13
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    moravia,ny
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    too many variable to get a true answer. we average 24 per yard. (used to be 36 but farming has changed) In fla where you are many beekeepers move 3-4 times a year to follow the flow even within the state. just depends on your area.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    I think I'll try one at 40 hives at one suitable site with lots of forage around it, and arrange 4 others at at 20 hives each. So I can drop two apairies sites (Number one site to drop is near an electrical substation which I learned last season are HEAVY users of pesticides, of the seven different things they were spraying one had the trade name of DIABLO, can't be good... bummer, lots of clover around it).



    I

  15. #15
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    I would think an electric sub station would be poisoning weeds and brush. Diablo in not a name brand that I recognize. It is most likely a product similar to Roundup or Remedy. It may not harm bees.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    There are two ways to look at this question. When speaking of hives per acre it sounds like you are talking about pollination or pollination contracts.

    For purposes of pollination, hive numbers are usual too high for the available widespread YEAR ROUND food supply. I suspect that is way beekeepers who rents hives out for pollination to earn a living are called migratory beekeepers. Besides, 2 hives per acre may mean 20 hives at one location in only a ten acre field.

    Bees work or forage over a wide area, and depending on who you ask or who does the answering that area can bee from 8,000 to over 50,000 acres. The old time beekeepers were often full time farmers who kept bees not as a hobby but as a 2nt, 3rd, or 4th occupation in line with farm income diversification. Some farmers kept quite a lot of hives. Often they were neighbors or even close family members whose land adjoined. So bee populations were often at the maximum that the local environment could support.

    An illustration, the US of A has 2,282,510,106 acres of land mass. Bee hives in pollination mode are often placed at a density of 2 hives per acre. That would seem to suggest that there are resources in the US of A to support 4,565,020,212 hives of bees. It just 'ain't' so.

    Another way to look at this question is how many hives of bees can I keep in one bee yard without over stressing the bees? I feel that those who advised 15 hives are close to right but nothing about beekeeping is written in stone.

    It depends on how much forage is available, when the bees need it, and if they can get a-round-to-it when it is available. How many other kept or feral hives are in the close vicinity, etc, etc, etc. It does not matter how much pollen or nectar the plants in your area produces if the bees are busy working something they like better because then they are too preoccupied to gather extra resources.

    I have never owned enough hives to check this out but an old time type beekeeper told me that 10-20 hives was the max. Also she said that if you kept too many hives in one location they would become overly defensive because the bees would view the completion or scarcity of nectar as a dearth and natural instinct would cause the bees too 'overly' defend the resources they possessed. If this is true, you could add hives until they started displaying strong defensive behavior and then cut back to a more peaceful number.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scrapfe View Post
    If this is true, you could add hives until they started displaying strong defensive behavior and then cut back to a more peaceful number.
    I wonder if this isn't true. The bees that I have came from a commercial keeper who's bees seem more aggressive than mine yet they are the same source. The only other conclusion I could come to is there is more poking around in his hives than mine.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    Quote Originally Posted by FameFlower View Post
    ... of the seven different things they were spraying one had the trade name of DIABLO, can't be good... bummer, lots of clover around it)...
    “What's in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet.” --- Shakespeare’s Juliet
    Romeo and Juliet Act II Scent 2.

    A rose by any other name still has thorns as sharp as a needle. ---- Scrap Iron.

    http://www.cdms.net/LabelsMsds/LMDef...spx?pd=8897&t=

    The above label information says that all clover types that I know are highly sensitive to Diablo. If there is clover growing in the vicinity then I doubt that it is sprayed with any herbicide since all herbicides that I am familiar with, kill all clovers that I know about, deader than 4:00 o'clock.

    If you are opposed to keeping bees there on an ethical basis, give up the location to someone else. It’ll be a win win.
    Last edited by Scrapfe; 02-21-2012 at 11:40 AM.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    I doubt that your bees are smart enough to recognize a beekeeper in a white bee suite from a skunk with a white stripe down his back, so I think you may be on to something. Besides once we fire off the smoker both we and the skunk smell just as bad!!!
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: hives per acre?

    Bees work or forage over a wide area, and depending on who you ask or who does the answering that area can bee from 8,000 to over 50,000 acres.
    A two-mile foraging radius is 8042 acres, a three-mile foraging radius is 18096 acres, a four-mile foraging radius is 32170 acres, and a five-mile radius is 50266 acres.

    Basswood and locust can supposedly provide around 1000 lbs/acre of honey production.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norther...for_honey_bees

    If the surrounding 8000 acres is covered entirely by one of those trees and we assume 200 lbs honey per hive (100 lbs stores, 100 lbs surplus), the area would theoretically support 40000 hives, or 5 hives per acre. Even with 1% cover of a good honey crop it would support 400 hives.

    Of course stocking densities that high are not realistic, mainly because the bees must find sufficient pollen and nectar to build up prior to the main flow.

    I suspect that proximity to the hive has an effect on honey yield, even within the two mile radius. An interesting but expensive experiment would be to plant patches of irrigated sweet clover in the middle of a barren desert and place different numbers of hives different distances from the patches to assess honey yield.

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