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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Collinsville, Illinois
    Posts
    86

    Default pollinating services for pumpkins

    I was contacted recently about pollinating a pumpkin crop later this year....This will be a new crop for the grower as well as this beekeeper, having never done anything like this so I'm looking for a little direction here...it sounds like the farmer will be planting a couple of acres, so I'm wondering if there is a rule of thumb for hives per acreage that some of you use.....my first impression is to offer a pollination service for a week or two during the plants blooming stage, and not place hives on the property permanently. I am set to talk to the owner this morning, so I'm not sure about his requirements yet, but I know I won't be leaving my hives on the property if he will be spraying for anything...
    If anyone would like to chime in here and post a little advise for me I'd appreciate it....What else should I be looking at here ? After talking to another beekeeper last night I get the impression that I should be charging in the neighborhood of $35.00 per hive for about a 5 day period.....any advise on this ?

    thanks

    dixie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hampton CT
    Posts
    360

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    Pumpkin growers usually want the bees for at least a month. I have had bad experiences with squash and pumpkin crops. The bees are there for a long time. Pumpkins and squash blossom early in the morning and then there in nothing for the bees to work for the rest of the day. In addition, the pollen that they collect from pumpkins dosen't have much nutrition to it. I find that I have to feed the bees both syrup and pollen substitute. Even with supplimental feed, the bees always come out of pumpkins in poor condition. I also suspect damage from pesticides. The growers say that they don't spray, but usually there are other crops in the area being sprayed. Because of these problems, I no longer do pumpkins. As to the price, $35 dollars is no where near what the bees are worth. I get $75 for apples which normally take less than 10 days with out the problems from pumpkins. I would say that you should get at least $100 ea, plan on feeding heavily and loosing some bees. It just isn't worth it!
    Last edited by adam@azapiaries; 02-24-2012 at 05:58 AM. Reason: spelling

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Lemont, Il U.S.A.
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    10-4 on the 100.00 per hive. They will get beat up as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,946

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    Absolutely agree on the price. We are putting our bees out there way to cheap IMO. Even off apples the bees take a hit.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,377

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    By the time pumpkins are ready for pollinating you aught to have enuf honey in the hives to carry bees thru any lose in honey production. But, such a small pumpkin patch won't starve you colonies.

    Two strong hives aught to be adequate. At least $50.00 per colony pollination fee is more reasonable. Though I would like to see $75.00 or better. $100.00 will get you turned down, I would predict. But, ya never know until you ask.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Pennsylvania/Florida
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    I've done pumpkins/cucerbits in Ohio and Michigan for years, we normally send our bees in starting mid june, get them back the first week of september. Rarely did the bees not make honey, normally making at least one shallow box, if not filling both shallows that were on them. Last year my rate was $57 and that included trucking the bees from pennsylvania.

    Hope my input is useful.

    Aaron

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Saratoga Springs, NY
    Posts
    171

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    It would be interesting to know if the farmer used treated pumpkin seeds in the fields were the bees did poorly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,946

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    I raised pumpkins in Maine in the '70's on a commercial basis. Seed was treated even back then. I would expect that all seed is treated unless it's an organic farm.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Polk county, Florida
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    Why do you guys want to work so cheap, OMG, replacing dead outs costs , the 100.00 per hive is more on the money, I'd rather make honey for anything less and the bees look way better.
    Have fun if you just like to work for nothing.

  10. #10

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    I did some pumpkins. Never seen more than 10 acre fields of them. I dont know how theyre coming out in "such bad shape" unless you guys throw down 100 hives at every field regardless of acerage. Plus, Cucumbers is an entirely different horse, Ive seen 200 acre fields of those, and yes, they look like crap coming out because its the middle of summer, they're cooking, there's nothing for them to eat and usually no water to haul. Do note, here, we harvest cucumbers while pumpkins are being planted. I usually get second crop soybean honey at the same time Im pollinating pumpkins, and there's rain here in August so that helps usually. I charged 50 per, 1 pallet minimum, had a few growers. no deadouts. I actually had to extract some honey. But then again that's all scale and biome relative. Take it all with a grain of salt.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    2 acres on pumpkins is not a mono-crop, the bees will forage everything else they can find in the afternoon once the pumpkin blossoms close.

    We grow pumpkins and to be honest we haven't seen any benefit to pollinating with honey bees. We didn't have bees on them in 2010 and did in 2011... the crop size increased, but the pumpkins were all smaller in 2011... weight wise we came out about the same. This year we are going to keep the bees on them, but pinch off some of the blossoms to try and boost pumpkin size.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  12. #12

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    Quote Originally Posted by bluegrass View Post
    2 acres on pumpkins is not a mono-crop, the bees will forage everything else they can find in the afternoon once the pumpkin blossoms close.

    We grow pumpkins and to be honest we haven't seen any benefit to pollinating with honey bees. We didn't have bees on them in 2010 and did in 2011... the crop size increased, but the pumpkins were all smaller in 2011... weight wise we came out about the same. This year we are going to keep the bees on them, but pinch off some of the blossoms to try and boost pumpkin size.
    We do the same with some of our watermelons, blossom picking that is. I have noticed with extra bees, and no culling of course, I get a 3rd picking if I get the rain.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hampton CT
    Posts
    360

    Default Re: pollinating services for pumpkins

    Here in the CT River Valley, it seems that pumpkins are grown in areas with large acreages of corn, tobacco, oak forest or houses! This leads to limited diversity of the incoming pollen. According to Larry Conner, pumpkin pollen dosn't have much for honey bees. This leads to poor nutrition and weak bees. Ad this to the months of exposure to pesticides, fungicides and what ever else is thrown in results in poor colonies. I would rather move my bees to Loostrife and goldenrod. No pollination fee would persuade me to go back into pumpkins.

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