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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Richardson, TX, USA
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    84

    Default How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Myself and some of my beekeeping friends are considering renting our hives for almond pollination this coming year but I'm not sure how this process works.

    What's the makeup of the rented hive? A single deep with 8 frames and a division board feeder? Since I keep double deeps how would this work?

    Once the hives arrive at the orchard site how are they generally scattered?

    Are multiple hives concentrated in a given area or how well do they want them scattered?

    When do they generally arrive at the orchard? When do they generally leave?

    Are pesticides used by the farmer while the hive is there? If so, how are the hives protected?

    How much feeding is generally required?

    How does the farmer verify he's getting what he's contracted for?

    Feel free to add any info where I am not asking questions!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    2,981

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Take look at this. Those pallets in the second photo down hold 16 double deep hives. And this is about how I have seen them placed for just about anything being pollinated.

    http://glaciercountyhoney.wordpress....tion-and-love/
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
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    2,381

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Those pallets hold 4 double deeps. So you need probably 100-200 before you can think about entering this gig. Farmers pay 150 or so depending and you have to have 8-10 frames of bee's in a double deep setup or they wont pay a cent. So it is a gamble if you dont have really strong bee's.

    You need to secure a contract through a broker and they dont like to deal with little guys so much so you need a big pool of hives on pallets as in the pictures. Read the commercial forum for more info.

    They sit out in the orchards. Either you place them or the broker places them and charges you. You need a forklift and and truck to place them. They get stolen etc some times so it is a gamble. Lids can blow off and your hives can die out so it is up to you to check on them etc. Or pay the broker etc. There was a guy advertising in the forum that he could do all that for you and you could have lower numbers. But, it still does not make any sense unless you have numbers to even think about this. But, if you have 100 or more it starts to be important to go to fund the operation.

    Look at the back of the bee journals there are some brokers listed in there.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    5,941

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Only one way to find out! Get a semi load together between the bunch of you, and see how it works out.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Wausau, WI, USA
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    212

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    There are other things to also consider when making the decision on going to Almonds. Don't be surprised if your bees get sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. You can send out great hives and get back deadouts or boxes of sick and dieing bees! You also don't get compensated for those loses. Then there is the exposure to each and every virus, pest, and disease out there. I persoanly know people who got back whole semi loads of dead bees, not on one occasion, but over multiple years. You have to ask yourself if you can afford to lose that many hives. Last year the guy I worked for had a semi load "lightly" sprayed with fungicides. It didn't kill the hives, but it set the hives back several months and we experienced queen problems all year with those hives. Add to that, the lose of income from the sale of frames of brood from those hives and it really didn't pay very well.

    Yes, the money can be very good doing almonds, but most people don't understand the risks involved in doing almonds.

    Wisnewbee

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    fresno county ca usa
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    17

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Just go for it you will never no if you don't try
    /Day and night with all your might /

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,374

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    I have been sending bees to the almonds for about 15 years now. Yes there are risks and yes there are rewards as well. It's a high stakes game make no mistake about it but I think that the risks are sometimes exaggerated. Here is what I recommend:
    Find someone you can trust, this is really, really, really important. If its the grower, try to learn something about his operation and who he has worked with in the past. If its a broker or another beekeeper ask for references. They are responsible for your livelihood ask a lot of questions and get a written contract and understand what it says, what is required of you and your bees and what is required of the grower. Communication is key. If you aren't personally placing them, demand to know where they will be and let them know you will need access to them. Don't take the word of the nice sounding person on the phone. I have one of those that still owes me a lot of money. All of this is so much more important than just looking for the highest dollar.
    The risks are many and you've heard them all but here is a rough assessment of how I rank them, based on my personal experiences.
    A. Hive theft? I haven't had it happen to me yet but it is a good subject to be brought up and discussed with your handler
    B. Grading? Understand what the requirements are and on what basis you will be paid or not paid. When grading your bees try to think like a beekeeper not a banker. I have rarely been docked but we may be the toughest graders of all.
    C. Payment? This is a biggie. Have it clearly spelled out and don't get too bent out of shape when you find there is a bit of a delay.....there usually is.
    D. Release date? This is a biggie for us as well. It is very important to get them released as soon as possible as they usually go backwards pretty quickly when the flow stops. Be prepared to have to go and feed them if there are delays for any reason.
    E. Disease spread? Always a concern because you don't know what might be around the corner, but I have never sensed that our bees have been damaged..at least overtly.
    F. Spray? You won't get kills from pesticide but you may well get some fungicide exposure or at least that is what I and many others blame for what we see in many hives coming out. It sets them back a bit but they seem to recover pretty quickly.
    G. Losses? I wouldn't worry too much about that. If you send strong colonies out and send them close to the bloom that is almost certainly what you will get back. Those big losses that you hear so much about invariably are from operations that just ship everything west in the fall and spend the winter sorting out what they have or don't have. Who knows where they have been, what care they have had or what conditions they sat in for most of the summer and fall. "Garbage in garbage out".
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,200

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Jim, I liked your post. One variable that I didn't see discussed was shipping. Texas is a long way from California. I presume that shipping costs from Texas would be a larger proportion of total cost than shipping costs from South Dakota. I wonder how long it takes a load of bees to get from TX to CA, and what it costs per hive?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,374

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    Jim, I liked your post. One variable that I didn't see discussed was shipping. Texas is a long way from California. I presume that shipping costs from Texas would be a larger proportion of total cost than shipping costs from South Dakota. I wonder how long it takes a load of bees to get from TX to CA, and what it costs per hive?
    Actually the distance is about the same either way (1600 to 1700 miles). By sending a mix of singles and doubles we can reduce our shipping costs to around $20 per hive round trip. We prefer to ship selected hives out of Texas in January. We roll the dice and max the trucks out. I keep hearing that they can come back too heavy to get them all back on but have yet to have that happen to us. Seems like the honey/feed weight gets replaced by bee weight. My perspective is the first hive on the truck is the expensive one and everyone extra is free. We expect 2 days + in transit.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Richardson, TX, USA
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    84

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Thanks everyone for their input, especially Jim!

    My idea now is to wait until 2014 before I do this. That will give me more time to build relationships with partners, suppliers, and prospective customers. And, to grow my hive count this season in preparation for doing something more independently next season.

    Jim, I'm considering traveling out to CA this season for a couple of days to get a better understanding of the process and so that I can develop a good plan for 2014. Do you have any recommendations on doing this?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Maricopa, Ariz, USA
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    90

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Jim made a great post......pretty level headed for a NDakotian This will be year 39 or 40 for me to make the pilgrimage to the San Joaquin. I think what Jim was saying is that almond growers will not spray insecticide.......that won't stop (some) grape or alfalfa growers a quarter or half mile away from doing it after the bloom so be aware. I don't know the procedures in every county but for the most part, if you have filed proper paperwork with the county (they know where you are), you are fairly safe from insecticide. Also, if you are shipping during the big rush, I never pass 'port of entry' without seeing at least one semi locked down for one to several days for carrying ants, SHB or even Monarch Butterflies that the moron 'Port' employee can't/isn't allowed to identify. Some trucks are sent back, some are unloaded, washed and reloaded, at owners expense, before being released. Know what you are doing before you leap......it will save you ulcers and $.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    6,119

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Quote Originally Posted by dback View Post
    Jim made a great post......pretty level headed for a NDakotian
    Huh, perhaps North Dakota and South Dakota have now merged? Jim's post header says he is from "Herrick, South Dakota USA"


    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  13. #13
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Jim, What do you consider a bit of a delay when it comes to payment. I recently saw a thread where people are still waiting for payment from last year.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
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    951

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wisnewbee View Post
    You can send out great hives and get back deadouts or boxes of sick and dieing bees! You also don't get compensated for those loses. Then there is the exposure to each and every virus, pest, and disease out there.
    This is one I hear alot but have not ever seen. I'm not saying that it is not true, just that I see quite the opposite.
    There have been two years in which our bees came back from almonds looking ragged and it was due to rainy weather the entire time there.
    Our bees generally build up very well and look great once back home from CA.
    I recieved a call a couple of years back from one of the many folks seeking to cash in on the CCD money machine.
    He asked something like, "Doesn't it bother you that you take your bees down into the chemical sewer and expose them to all of the diseases and sprays and....?"
    I replied, "Actually, sending bees to almonds is one of the best things that happens to our bees. They are plucked from the cold rainy, snowy north and land in sunny CA to build up just in time to come back home in time for tree fruits."
    The guy says, "I have never heard anyone say any thing like that".
    I replied, "Then you are talking to the wrong people. Talk to beekeepers, not movie makers or enviro-wackos!"
    Part of it also is that we don't "send" our bees to almonds. We TAKE our bees there. Once on the ground we take however much time as necissary to dial all of them in to perfect.
    I realize that there are a thousand ways to cook a pot of soup, but loading up semis with bees and waving good bye as the head for almonds to be managed by someone else is unbelieavable to me.
    For sure if you are "sending" bees off to never never land and they come back looking like crap; wouldn't you rethink next year?
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    Jim, What do you consider a bit of a delay when it comes to payment. I recently saw a thread where people are still waiting for payment from last year.
    I would call something less than a month a bit of a delay and is pretty common. A year is a whole different story....and yes that can happen too.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Richardson, TX, USA
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    84

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Harry.....Thanks for the positive feedback. I was getting very discouraged at first seeing some of the initial feedback to this question. Like you said to the CCD guy, I'd already been thinking it makes sense that the bees are better off in a warmer climate than even a cold sometimes wet climate like we have here in Jan/Feb.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    a years payment delivery is not good. I have herd of land renters who do the same thing, and guess what, they are always paying one year late, so they have to farm the land to get paid back rent!

    Payment on time, otherwise good bye, you will see my lawyer
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  18. #18
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    Jul 2011
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    Richardson, TX, USA
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    84

    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    Jim, What do you consider a bit of a delay when it comes to payment. I recently saw a thread where people are still waiting for payment from last year.

    Are those farmers that don't pay per the contract (time window) reported to the local Better Business Bureau so that other beekeepers could be aware of that issue? or is there somewhere else to check for that info? That's something that I'd be very concerned about since nonpayment could create a major cashflow issue problem with funds I have available for my "bee habit"?

  19. #19
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    RichardsonTX, the next question is how much will it cost to build and keep your bees going throughout that time. I hear alot of beekeeper say they feed alot of sub to the hives to get them in condition for the groves. I am hearing tens of dollars per hive on sub. and then there is also liquid feed. by the time you pay for the transportation from Texas, your margins start to disappear.
    Some food for thought, but maybe your on a feed program like that in Texas anyway.,?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: How does the hive rental process work for almond pollination?

    Quote Originally Posted by RichardsonTX View Post
    Are those farmers that don't pay per the contract (time window) reported to the local Better Business Bureau so that other beekeepers could be aware of that issue? or is there somewhere else to check for that info? That's something that I'd be very concerned about since nonpayment could create a major cashflow issue problem with funds I have available for my "bee habit"?
    Rarely anything like that, remember you are dealing with busy farmers who may not put getting you paid exactly on time at the very top of their agenda. I am hearing about it second hand through the handlers. I am just making the point not to get too freaked out if a payment is a little late, most of the growers are good people but also shrewd businessmen.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

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