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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Tipton, TN, USA
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    Default Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    So what crop(s) should be planted solely for the purpose of making honey.

    i.e. If I planted 1 acre of sweet clover, what would be the expected honey return.

    I realize this is all "theory crafting, but I'd like to hear some guesses. On that 1 acre, how many hives could it support?

    Yes, I understand that they would fly where ever they wanted in the 2.5/3 mile radius..

    I'm toying with the idea of planting a hundred acres or so. What would you plant if you could?

    i.e. rows of blackberries on 8 front centers with white dutch on the rows? Or 100 acres of tulip poplar with clover while they grow. Honey Locust (stupid thorns).

    Currently my family has 90 acres with ~20 acres that is just random grass and serving no purpose. Additionally, I'm looking to purchase another 100+ acres. I'd like to think of a way to get a return on the land with bees with minimal input cost from farming equipment.

    i.e. I could pay or borrow equipment to disc it then broadcast in clover pretty cheap. The bee "should" be able to keep the clover in seed. I could knock it down randomly with the bush hog, but the idea is to minimize input costs.

    The land would really only be used for hunting/bees. I don't plan to be a row crop farmer, although there might be a possibility of a u-pick type scenario.

    What should be planted if you were thinking about building a honey garden? I'm also planning to plant various fruit orchard but it will take years for them to produce significant numbers.

    In the long run, I'm hoping to build a house and run a primary queen rearing location here, so the honey plants could offset some of the feeding costs.

    Welcome your input/comments.
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
    http://tradingwebsites4bees.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    Around here, ungrazed former pastures are colonized by cedars, and then eventually hardwoods will overtake the cedars. Over time, without intervention, it will return to forest.

    I have planted 300 thornless blackberry plants, of 6 varieties, plus 30 raspberries. They produce well, but to fill a 100 acres would take a lot of labor in terms of maintenance.

    I would first explore to see whether someone local is interesting leasing a portion of that land to run cattle.

    Assuming you don't want a return to forest, if the land is not too hilly to bushhog, I would seed with a mix of "wildflower/weeds", and set a bush hog rotation plan so that the entire property is mowed n segments, over a span of every 3 years or so.
    ultracrepidarian >> noting or pertaining to a person who criticizes, judges, or gives advice outside of his expertise

  3. #3
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    Apr 2010
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    Tipton, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    I would bush hog it yearly, I have no intention of allowing pasture land to go rogue. Unless it's with a tree that I specifically plant.. i.e. BeeBee trees or the like. We have another 97 acres that is in CRP land, and it's amazing how quickly it can grow trees, but not much stands up to bush hog / brush cat assuming you stay on top of it.

    That's why I was looking at the blackberries/fruit trees/etc on 8 foot centers, that's the width of the bush hog. *grins*

    I currently have 100 blackberries planted and I believe that 100 acres would be a significant task to undertake, but the possible return on investment might offset that. Or at least allow for the ability to higher part time labor.

    Grapes for a wine vineyard could be an option, but I don't know if Honey bees work grapes.

    I'd "like" to figure out the most bang for buck honey plant(s)... That require the least amount of effort, money and are readily plant-able.
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
    http://tradingwebsites4bees.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Weeki Wachee, Florida,USA
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    1,947

    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    I'm not a farmer but I can't imagine the cost of anything you plant and maintain only for nectar will be cheaper than sugar. Maybe it's better to encourage the "good" plants that already grow there and discourage the "bad". Fertilizer, round up and a little brush hogging. Plant for the deer, invite me up to hunt and I'll buy you 100# of sugar! .

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Lost River, WV, USA
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    14

    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    I'm in a similar situation, and here's what I'm doing after considerable research: I'm planting lavender bushes and clover in a pattern that is blocks of lavender separated by 7 ft (width of the bush hog) rows of clover. Starting next spring with 1,000 lavender bushes, planted 3 ft apart. Should be a bee and honey paradise! An acre would probably accommodate 4,000+ bushes and keep 20 colonies plenty busy. Lavender is lots of work (pruning and weeding), but if you're interested in best honey bang for the buck, check the prices of lavender honey online. Also an excellent u-pick crop. I have 200 acres and just doing this for starters on a back section of a hayfield. Also thinking of doing a separate area with sourwood trees.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    I think it would be important to plant things that have staggered or sequential peak nectar periods. Individual hives tend to stick to a single flow till something else comes in bloom that gives more reward for the effort. I have planted buckwheat and the bees dont work it unless it is cloudy and damp and the other flowers dont open. White Dutch clover and raspberries would be ahead of yellow and white sweet clover that comes on later in summer and would be good till close to goldenrod comes on. Birdsfoot treefoil is good for a long season here and I think the mile or so of it on secondary road banks are a good portion of my honey source. If you plant something that competes with existing plants it could be disappointing to see the bees not seem to appreciate it.

    These are some examples that would work in my area but your local area would be sure to have different ones.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Central Valley, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    Quote Originally Posted by bdbee View Post
    An acre would probably accommodate 4,000+ bushes and keep 20 colonies plenty busy.!
    An acre will more likely keep 1-4 strong colonies busy - if in full bloom - not 20!

  8. #8
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    Apr 2010
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    Tipton, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    If each hive puts up 500 lbs, the mono culture is a moot point. But they would have 52k plus acres to play on in addition to my 100...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinR View Post
    If each hive puts up 500 lbs, the mono culture is a moot point. But they would have 52k plus acres to play on in addition to my 100...
    Five hundred pounds total potential honey per acre, not per hive. That is just from memory and surely needs checking. I think it may have been kicked over on this forum a few years ago; that is the economics of planting for forage for bees. Rader sidetrack may find it. I dont think monoculture is moot because of the dearth typical when the bloom of one ends. I am not much of a farmer but I know there can be quite a range of cost per acre for tillage to establish different crops. It makes a difference too to whether you are philosophically allergic to glyphosate!

    Lots of things you can do if you really want to: If you have to make it show in the black on a balance sheet, some things are hard to fly.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    Good point, crofter.
    The figures in the above mentioned book ( it is a Government publication and referenced) are indeed per ha not per hive. Per hive yields depend on to many factors.
    I do plant allsorts to improve yield but there is not doubt that a mono culture is not really desirable and that the little I plant makes little difference.
    In Australia about 80% of the honey comes from tress - mostly Eucalypt.
    Plant for diversity and if we all are doing our bit it must make a difference.
    from the Bee House -http://ecologicalsolutions.com.au/bees/?page_id=8
    40 years - +/- 20 H - TF - Subtropical

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Tipton, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    500 per acre, but I asked about planting 100 acres..... Sooooooo in a perfect world.. that's 500 per hive at 100 hives, or 250 per hive at 200 hives....

    But it doesn't matter, because I don't know if those numbers are 100% accurate... Just looking for options.

    As for planting 100 acres, that shouldn't be the end of the world.. I believe it's 8lbs of clover per acre, so 800 lbs. Which is 16 50lb bags or roughly 3200 dollars... "If" 100 hives made 500 lbs per... That would be 50k lbs of honey... Which again, probably isn't realistic, but I should only have to plant once... "If" it's 50k... at 2bucks per pound, that would be 100k... Which should more than offset the 3200 dollars.

    Again, I don't expect it to put out that much... I just want to make as much honey per hive as possible to cut down on feeding... I agree that ideally, I would have staggered nectar sources, which is the type of information I'm looking for...
    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
    http://tradingwebsites4bees.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    There is no one who will be able to tell you how much honey to expect from a certain number of acres with a certain number of hives, unless you conduct the experiment yourself and share the results, its that simple. I would start out with just planting 100 acres of white sweet clover, of course it won't produce flowers until the second year after planting. Set up 50 hives the year you plant the clover and see how they do without the clover flowers and see what they produce. The second year when the clover blooms see how much more honey the 50 hives produce. They will gather nectar from anything within a couple miles in every direction, but the impact of the 100 acres of clover alone should benefit the total honey crop you get. There are too many variables that will affect a test like this to get an extremely accurate answer, such as weather, colony strengths, etc., but it should give you somewhat of an idea which is about the best you could hope for.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
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    900

    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    You may find this of interest: Bee Friendly: A planting guide for European honeybees and Australian native pollinators.

    Not sure if you can open it from OS but it does offer expected yields
    from the Bee House -http://ecologicalsolutions.com.au/bees/?page_id=8
    40 years - +/- 20 H - TF - Subtropical

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Tipton, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    Solo for the last 4 Years, ~60 Hives, TF + Oils.
    http://tradingwebsites4bees.com

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
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    900

    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    That's the one - please remember that some of our Australian natives can be weeds in the US!!
    from the Bee House -http://ecologicalsolutions.com.au/bees/?page_id=8
    40 years - +/- 20 H - TF - Subtropical

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
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    1,258

    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    I don't know much about this topic but can say this...

    We have blackberry and to us it is a weed....turn your back and it is 15 feet high and taking over everything. I can't imagine planting it in rows!

    We top dress paddocks with clover...it is a biennial and we need to top dress every three years or so.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Battle Ground , Washington, USA
    Posts
    747

    Default Re: Q: Theorictical Honey per Acre

    Phacilia is listed as 1,500 lbs of honey per acre with 900 lbs of pollen. I have an acre and the bees love it, I didn't notice a bunch more honey . Its very drought tolerant. I mixed in a little borage for longer lasting bloom.
    I'm not tense, Just terribly, terribly alert!

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