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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    2,358

    Default Questions for Commercial Beekeepers

    I'm a first year beekeeper making a stab at a small honey business. I have a buddy whose a commercial
    pollinator and our worlds couldn't be further apart. The things I worry about with my 15 hives in suburbia he
    doesn't have the time to worry about. The more I learn about the commercial end, the less I'm concerned with
    all the strict rules of hobbyist beekeeping. Some of the questions I have are as follows:

    What do you do about swarm control or do you have time to even worry about it?

    What do you do about leaky migratory covers?

    When do you do hive inspections and how in-depth are they?

    Using solid bottom boards on pallets, do you see any increase in mites?

    Do you use pollen patties? If so, when?

    Thanks!
    President, San Francisco Beekeepers Association
    www.habitatforhoneybees.org

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Staunton VA
    Posts
    150

    Default Re: Questions for Commercial Beekeepers

    I know one localy here, I talk to him a good bit.

    He has extra hives with lure sitting around for traps, and he does spits to control swarms

    He uses telescoping covers, But a leaky cover is ok except maybe for winter if theres to ventalation, I see big cracks in his hives that are old

    He does inspection on a select few every month, but never same ones in a row

    He has lots of mite problems and has to treat for them as he sells nucs

    He uses pollen pattys as he just bought everyone one of mine in store, now im sold out lol

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,664

    Default Re: Questions for Commercial Beekeepers

    What do you do about swarm control or do you have time to even worry about it?
    Manipulate them so they do not swarm.


    What do you do about leaky migratory covers?
    Put them in the "burn" pile, prefer telescoping.


    When do you do hive inspections and how in-depth are they?
    Depends what time of year. The best time is when you are next to the hive.
    Every frame in the brood chamber is inspected.

    Using solid bottom boards on pallets, do you see any increase in mites?
    Compared to what?

    Do you use pollen patties? If so, when?
    No.

    Crazy Roland

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    dadeville, alabama, USA
    Posts
    1,163

    Default Re: Questions for Commercial Beekeepers

    Charlie, for swarm control we either shake, split or make nucs up out of our bees. If we find a hive that has swarmed with cells present we still split them. If the hive has cells present and has not swarmed-we still split them and pull a nuc out of them. All excess cells are harvested and used elsewhere. No sense in wasting good cells.....Leaky migratory covers we do not have. We use a 3/4" flat piece of western cedar cement form board (fancy Plywood) for our covers. It is a nice simple lid for bees....Our hive inspection are in depth in the spring when we are making increase in the form of nucs and splits. That is when we identify problems in the outfit. The rest of the time we have too many supers on the hives to bother the queens for constant inspections...So if you do it right in the spring, you should not have any problems over the summer till fall when you might want to look again.....We use solid bottom four way pallets. I can not tell any difference between the screened ones we have or the solids for a difference in mite populations. Generally in the south we have pollen coming in even during the dead of winter. I have seen mistletoe yield in December around Christmas some years, with tag alder just three weeks later yielding pollen. We tried feeding pollen subs when we were hot and heavy migrating to California for Almond pollination. All we did was feed lots of hive beetles. So for us it is not worth feeding substitutes. I hope this helps with you building a business. TED
    ALABAMA BEE COMPANY-A member of the Sioux Honey association -*Sweetening a golden tommorrow*

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Gilmer,TX USA
    Posts
    1,830

    Default Re: Questions for Commercial Beekeepers

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Kretschmann View Post
    We use a 3/4" flat piece of western cedar cement form board (fancy Plywood) for our covers.
    Where can i get some of that? Is it the same stuff as steelply?

    I am not a commercial beekeeper but I have worked w/ and have been around several (including some large sideliners). The stuff that I used to fret about does not even show up on their radar screen. Leaky box? Bees will fix that. Not a big deal...helps w/ ventilation. Paint missing here and there? Big deal!

    On inspections. When you have so many you get a system going. Its like my commercial lawn business. We can mow a yard in 20 minutes that might take a hr
    for the homeowner to mow. Our skills are honed and our equipment is made for the job. If you know exactly what you are looking for in each hive then it goes
    smooth and fast.

    Solid bottoms and mites really are not a issue when you treat twice a year and split them. Do splits in the spring, kill off all the old queens, drop a cell in, come back in 2 weeks and you have a new queen going and the mite problem is in check. In the fall you treat them for mites. Also if you are splitting it reduces the
    problems w/ swarming.
    Mike
    Please check out the new kingfisherapiaries.com!
    Like us on Facebook

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: Questions for Commercial Beekeepers

    >>What do you do about swarm control or do you have time to even worry about it?

    yes. otherwise all your production will fly away. The way you manage swarming is probably alot different than how commercial ops manage swarms. It may not look like commercial ops are paying attention to swarming but it consumes a huge amount of spring prep. In my operation anyway.

    >>What do you do about leaky migratory covers?

    silicone

    >>When do you do hive inspections and how in-depth are they?

    every week - two weeks at least one round doing something. Not necissarlily in depth hive inspection. Visual external inspections and "ques" tell alot of whats happening inside the hive. I usually dig into the nest once or twice a year usually in spring during the split.

    When making a round, your out there managing the hive in a certain way. Have a game plan, get it done. If your out medicating, do so, and only so. If your out there splitting, do so and only so. If your feeding, etc... If you can manage the time combine a few jobs together. Treat the operation like a single unit. Bring the hives to basically the same stage through out the op. so you can pick out the weak easily. Running a large number of hives treating each hive individually will run you into major time problems. It is very important to run things together and get jobs done together. Its easier to mantain you op and your sanity. Also it makes things easier to hire in help

    >>Using solid bottom boards on pallets, do you see any increase in mites?

    No

    Do you use pollen patties? If so, when?

    Yes, spring or during a derth when you want bees to build
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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