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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default To Big to Replace?

    What is the status of Commercial Beekeeping Operations across the Nation? I have heard that there are fewer and fewer beekeepers owning more and more colonies of bees. Who is stepping up to fill the shoes of the aging Commercial Beekeepers? Is this the future of commercial beekeeping, that fewer beekeepers put on more hives to cover the demands of specialty pollination, such as almonds and blueberries?

    Pollination seems to drive the commercial beekeepers these days, not honey production, though that is important too. I recall Inspecting a commercial operation one time. The beekeeper, somewhat halfheartedly, complained about the honey he had to deal w/. He would have loved to have had hives that would make enuf to sustain themselves thru to the next season, rather than making a surplus which he had to extract. Pollination being his major moneymaker. That was 15 years ago. I don't know how he feels about it now.

    Would y'all who run thousands rather not deal w/ the honey and just pollinate?
    Who is stepping up to fill your shoes? Children? The highered help?
    And of all the colonies in operations above smallscale beekeepers, what percentage are held by Commercial Beekeepers and what percentage are held by Sideliners and those operations of around 500 or so, one person operations?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,367

    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    That was 15 years ago. I don't know how he feels about it now.
    I wonder. 15 years ago the price of honey was well below $1/lb. Now it's up around $2. Price alone might change some minds.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Chesterfield, NH
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    499

    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    Pollination being his major moneymaker for Commercial Beekeeping Operations in the USA not honey production.

    This has been going for the pass 25 years or so and I say the same thing for Package bees IMHO.



    BEE HAPPY Jim 134

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,062

    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    You can't import pollination. When imported honey (or anthing else) marginalizes that sector it drives up the cost of pollination for everyone from the beekeeper on up the food chain to the shopper buying produce.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    So we will always have indigenous pollinating beekeepers? Of larger and larger size?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,062

    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    I don't know, but that's the trend in business in general - get big or get squeezed out. Unless you are in a niche which is not sufficiently profitable, or not scalable enough to interest investors. And almost anything is scalable if it's profitable enough.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,363

    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    I think beekeeping has been trending to fewer and bigger for quite some time. The trend isn't as extreme as many segments of the economy though and that is certainly a good thing. A successful beekeeping operation is so management dependent that they occasionally fail simply because they outgrow their number of capable workers. I know of one large outfit that entrusted the loading of a large number of hives to some employees who opted to just load up the bees in the middle of the afternoon despite the massive loss of field bees because they chose to take the easy way out once the boss had left. I personally think there will always be a place for the well managed and efficient sole proprietor (or Ma and Pa if you will)of 500 to 1000 hives, I heard a story a few years back about a migratory beekeeper with only 400 hives who managed to hit 3 major flows in one year and realized a combined 400 lb. Average, took a lot of work and hustle no doubt but it is an example of what is possible. From my perspective most larger operations pursue both almond pollination and honey production and I wouldn't expect that to change as long as the income potential exists for both. Obviously many California beeks have a whole different perspective on this though the fact remains that about the same amount of income in the US is derived from both pollination and honey production. As far as the age of beekeepers, I know of quite a number of successful younger beekeepers though they are primarily the youngest generation of old beekeeping families. Admittedly with operating costs as high as they are it's difficult to start an operation from the ground up.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
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    1,895

    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    So we will always have indigenous pollinating beekeepers? Of larger and larger size?
    I have heard speculation that now that they have allowed the Mexican truckers to start driving further inland, that the Mexican bees will not be too far behind going into almonds.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    Seems more likely that an open Boarder w/ Canada would come first. We've had trucking from Canada for a long time, w/out bees coming south. But, who knows, it's not like we don't already have here what Mexico has, do we?
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
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    2,302

    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    I think it was mentioned on Bee-L that they have some virus/or parasite we don't, but cant recall what it was. They also have government subsidized fuel which gives their truckers an unfair advantage.

    I would think the liability from having that many Africanized bees would make a lot of growers think twice about getting hives from Mexico. But maybe not, especially if they could place them far from the roads.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
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    3,170

    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    You can't import pollination.
    Don't forget about the aussi bees showing up in late January for almond pollination, it's stopped for now but who knows for how long.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
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    Default Re: To Big to Replace?

    At least in North Dakota and Montana where I have kept bees, the apiary registrations are taylored to freeze out new beekeepers and compettion. Three mile radius laws don't do much to control disease but they sure allow the first guy in to monopolize a huge territory and promotes huge operations.

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