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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    I am looking at the idea of pollination contracts in my region, and I wonder how much stress it is likely to have on my bees.

    The most lucrative contracts in the area are for blueberries, and I understand that blueberries aren't great nutrition for bees. On the other hand, many of the blueberry farms in the area aren't that big. So it seems likely that bees can easily forage beyond them.

    The farmers are mostly within an hour to an hour and a half from my home yards, so they would never really be undergoing long travel, or great climatic shifts.

    If a person really wants to maintain healthy bees - how much strain do you think this type of activity will put on them?

    Thanks,

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,036

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    You'll lose a box of honey.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,373

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    And they won't winter as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,823

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    I had bees come out of one apple orchard last spring in terrible shape. Neighboring grower sprayed while my bees were in the orchard. coupled with a wet,cool spring, it took all summer for them to rebound and I had to requeen several hives. Needless to say, I won't be going back to that orchard again. I'm getting very picky where I put my bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,373

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    Me too. They stay home.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,866

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    Thousands of hives come into my area to pollinate wild blueberries each spring - My observation is that given a choice between blueberries and another nutrition source, the bees will choose the other source most of the time. This is one reason why you'll see lots of apple orchards that bring in bees to pollinate will mow and/or cut around the orchard to reduce the competition for the bees attention. This too is why bees don't usually get placed on blueberries until the fields are covered in some bloom - like 20-30%. The idea is that you want the bees to work the blueberries, not anything else that may be blooming that the bees might like better.

    I have 5 to 7 acres of wild blueberries and my bees are less than a quarter mile from them. Last spring when the field was blooming I hardly saw any honey bees in the blueberry field, but lots of bumbles and other native pollinators. As I don't harvest the field for commercial purposes (rather I get what my family and friends can eat) I was not overly concerned. My yield was lower than if I put 2-3 colonies of honey bees per acre in the middle of the field at the right time.

    So I guess it comes down to economics. If you want or need to put some money in your pocket and can live with bees that are set back from "normal" thanks to their pollination expedition, than go for it. Smarter bee minds than mine have considered the question and decided that providing pollination services is something they would rather not do.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  7. #7

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    I had a friend go into blueberries last year close to home. I believe he lost over half while they were there. He said they needed fed, queens were superseding, and it was a huge pain. By the time he paid for fuel, losses, and time he lost money.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    Interesting. I guess I can see why they're paying $150 per hive...

  9. #9

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    Almonds "might" pay 150 but apples, blueberries, and vine crops don't.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,382

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    You need to feed going into and a bit during blueberries or you will have issues. That is why you charge more for Blueberries then other Berrie crops because you need to feed. 50$ is the highest I have seen but, I believe on the east coast they get more because of all the issues. Almonds pay the best at 150 but, when you figure brokerage fee's , placement fee's and travel expenses it is less then $100. But, that still pays for your time and helps with replenishing the winter losses.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: Pollination contracts in your region - Is it bad for bees?

    Blueberries pay $140 - $150 here as we have had a closed border and a limited supply of bees. That's changing now, so I won't be surprised to see the prices drop...

    Adam

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