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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    So. Ogden, Utah, USA
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    8

    Default Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Located in northern Utah where there are a lot of fruit orchards. I was just curious if renting my bees might be able to make me some supplimental income, and if so what is a good asking price per hive?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
    Posts
    1,858

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    I had the same idea many years ago. As I asked around, the established orchards and larve truck farms already had pollination relationships (and that's the key word). They were not interested in changing to an unknown quantity who was just starting out. Also, my local bees were not strong enough in early April to effectively pollinate apples and peaches.

    I made some contacts at the farmer's markets where I was selling honey. I was offering pollination opportunties, but these smaller producers didn't want to pay anything, claimed they couldn't really afford it. I also didn't want to move hives in and out, so I ended up working with several growers to set up some hives at no cost, basically providing me an outyard for free. I found setting hives too close to the crop will incite the bees to sting the pickers. I also discovered most of these smaller growers don't use a lot of chemicals and will gladly part with some produce when you stop in to visit.

    Long and short of it, after several years of trial and error, I set up hives close to their farm and I require 24/7 access by vehicle. The bees stay there year round and I make a whole lot of honey. Some of the locations produce some really unique honey that I market as a "varietal." But any thought for me collecting a pollination fee just have not materialized.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    So. Ogden, Utah, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Thanks for the info Grant, i really appriciate it. I was kind of thinking of doing the same thing as well. Maybe just offering hives at no cost. You said that if you put the hive too close to the crop that the pickers were stung. How close was "too close"?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,954

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    My best location is at a market garden/farm stand. They don't pay a pollination fee but they do buy all the honey I want to sell them wholesale at a price that makes it worth my while!
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Bristol,MA,USA
    Posts
    728

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Can't really help with the asking price as it varies with the local market. What you propose is easily doable but you must start at the end in January or February no later. I started my pollination business in the following fashion and built up to 350 hives which was all I could handle by myself while teaching full time. Here's how I got my customers. I typed out two sets of postage paid postcards. One with my advertisement of my hives, two deep bodies of overwintered bees, no packages, etc. etc. I valued their rental at least $5. to $10. less than my future competition's, promised on time delivery and that they would be out of the orchards exactly when required. The other postcard was worded as a sort of very brief contract, wherein the orchard owner filled in the various blanks with the number of hives needed, the date needed, and the telephone number. Both cards were lightly scotch taped together in such a way that only the adv. was showing. The agriculture departments of my state and those of our surrounding states provided me with all the fruit growers' addresses and the type of fruit grown. Simple procedure to just go right down the list of names. A very "fruitful" and interesting endeavor that provided me with more customers than I could handle at the time. Good luck to you! OMTCW

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Arcade,NY
    Posts
    151

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    I live in a farming community. what I know about farmers. A lot of them don't make a lot of money to pay there bills today. What I would do. put in a few hives for free and hope I can collect enough honey so I can profit from his croup's. I think its a win win situation for both of you.
    Last edited by Ray4852; 12-09-2011 at 07:12 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
    Posts
    1,404

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Grant,

    Thats wierd about the stinging thing?? While driving along the highway this past summer I seen tons of pollinator hives and seen the field laborers walking around them and even taking break under easy up's that were placed right by the hives!! Along with al the vehicles parked within feet of the hives. Are you running AHB!!LOL

    On the line of this thread, it wouldnt be a bad thing to pollinate a farmers crop for free, provided you can keep your bee's there year round, not to mention word of mouth travels quickly through the ranching/farming community and your offering of bees could produce a lot of great contacts that could turn into other terms of making money. I'm new to beekeeping, but ive been around farmers and ranchers my whole life and if you have a good attitude and are willing to help them, they will help you. Now, if you screw one of them over..........you can pretty much bet that the whole county will tell you to hit the door!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    So. Ogden, Utah, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Thanks yall for all the info. My grandfather ownes a greenhouse and nursery and I have also been around farmers and ranchers all my life. It is true that word of mouth is very important, both the good thingds and the bad. I have been thinking alot about aproaching one or two orchard owners and placing hives for free, then asking them if they have seen a difference and if it is something they would be willing to pay for. If not, as was mentioned above, I would always be able to reap the benifits of more honey and also "flavored honey". Thanks again for all the good advice.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,083

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    I might offer someone a free hive that I will manage. But only until I get experience. I did home remodeling work the same way years ago. But once I know I can provide a quality service the free would also end.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Cattaraugus,New York, USA
    Posts
    345

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray4852 View Post
    I live in a farming community. what I know about farmers. A lot of them don't make a lot of money to pay there bills today. What I would do. put in a few hives for free and hope I can collect enough honey so I can profit from his croup's. I think its a win win situation for both of you.
    Ray-

    This is true. Most farmers around here though arent in the same boat as elsewhere. Around here, the main crops are soybeans, corn and hay. The most popular soybeans around here arent even insect polinated, so thats not even an availible market for us. We dont have the crops that require pollination like elsewhere, such as blueberries, apples, peaches, cranberries and the like. Anyone growing these, even on a "large scale" for this area is only growing less than 50 acres at most. If you drive to the Niagara Frontier where the apple orchards are 100's and even 1000's of acres, you see pollination contracts being cut. Its just not in the cards here for small scale beekeepers around here, like you and I. I agree, I put hives on farms for free, and they pollinate the local area, maybe hitting the farmers garden, but most of the honey is produced from plants that the farmer isnt growing for a crop.
    Allegany Mtn. Bee Farm
    Quality Queens and Honey from Western New York

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    5,497

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Before you decide to go into pollination, think about the consequences for you bees.

    I pollinated apples in the northern Champlain valley of NY for 20 years. Used to place 600 colonies by hand. Stopped pollination work in 2000, and it was a good decision. Sure I lost the $$ from the contract, but I find it easier and more profitable for my apiary to sell bees and queens.

    I learned a big lesson by pollinating apples. The bees lose strength with every move. Queens get lost with every move. Occasionally, I'd move only part of an apiary, leaving the remaining colonies in the yard. After moving the production colonies back into the yard, I could see a big difference in colony strength. The colonies that weren't moved filled supers while the pollination colonies didn't. Over all I averaged a medium or more of production with the non-pollinators. They also wintered better, as I usually lost 10-20% more of the pollinators.

    So, I'm not saying don't, but am saying know your bottom line before you start. Pollination isn't all it's cracked up to be.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
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    1,227

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    mike
    an older cny beekeeper used to base his pollination price on the price of 60 lbs of honey. that covered honey lost and moving expenses. from what you said this may have been a good measure.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,469

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Some good advice from MP as usual. It took me a few years of seeing it to actually convince myself that the result of moving bees into an orchard might actually have a net negative effect. Though they will probably be better coming out than going in, the true measure is how did the "sister" hives that weren't moved do by comparison. Bear in mind that orchards are often mono culture by design, though they don't often control all the forage area around them orchard owners prefer that their bloom be the only game in town.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,758

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Quote Originally Posted by beeware10 View Post
    mike
    an older cny beekeeper used to base his pollination price on the price of 60 lbs of honey. that covered honey lost and moving expenses. from what you said this may have been a good measure.
    60lbs X $1.85/lb= $111.00/pollination colony. I don't know anyone getting that on apples. Almonds and blueberries maybe, but not apples. Not in NY. Half that amount, $55.50, is probably about average across NY State. I keep trying to push it upward.

    Met a guy who used to live in VA and pollinated apple orchards along the Blue Ridge. He got orchards to pay him a percentage of the gross income. I don't know what that turned out to be per hive.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,497

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Some good advice from MP as usual. It took me a few years of seeing it to actually convince myself that the result of moving bees into an orchard might actually have a net negative effect.
    I meant to say...I lost at least a medium...40 lbs...of honey per colony used for pollination, when compared to the colonies that didn't move. How much is 40 pounds of honey worth? I got $2/lb for my crop this year, so for a $55 pollination fee I get to lose $80 worth of honey, work like a dog to get them ready for the orchard, and have to work day and night and bust up my equipment to boot, burning up my vehicles, and losing more bees in the winter. And, after pollination I'm so far behind in my work and so exhausted I can hardly think straight. Hardly worth it.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    moravia,ny
    Posts
    1,227

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    mark
    I should have said that the value of 60 lbs is what should be charged in order to make as much money for pollination vs not moving them. this agrees with what mike is saying. I know no one getting over 100 dollars for apples. that statement came from hearld merrll which was bought by winters. like everything there is no free lunch.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    27,758

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Amen to that. I would love to see "fair compensation" for pollination services.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    So. Ogden, Utah, USA
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Offering hives to farmers for pollination

    Well I am sure glad that I asked before jumping in. I still think that I may try it, but at least now I have alot of good advice on what to expect. Thanks to all those who have responded and left their advice

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