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.
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