Let's imagine for the sake of this thread that I live in an apartment, and have been able to keep up to five hives on a farm for a song and a jug of honey each year. But I've decided to step up to sidelining - or, if sideliner isn't the proper word, perhaps a leveled-up hobbyist. I want increase to somewhere between 20 and 50 hives, with an ambitious long-term goal of maybe a couple hundred. Never mind the schedule or method of increase at this juncture; it's beside the point.
My host farm is unwilling to give up any more land than I currently use, and obviously I can't keep any at my apartment. Perhaps someone who keeps bees at their own home with a yard may have a similar predicament if they want more bees than they have space for. I realize too that pollination gives you temporary space for your hives; but before, after, and between contracts you need somewhere else to put them.
Question: where do you guys get your land from?
Do you just flat-out buy it? Rent it? Try to talk your way into using it for free? Squat?
How do you find acceptable land? Do you go on Google Maps or drive around to look for a likely spot and then try and find out who the owner is and ask them? Or does it take some connections, ultimately?
Do you try to seek out a great massive yard, or do you prefer a couple of smaller ones? Or do you hope you are able to find a whole lot of farms that you can keep just a couple of hives at each (and is that as uneconomical a strategy as it sounds?)?
Is it worth the time to seek out and ask the owners/administrators of public spaces, managed forests, educational or medical establishments with large campuses, or do these guys usually say no?
If your answer would be along the lines of "all/any one of these is worth a try", which specifically do you do? Which have you had the most luck or best results with? Which have you tried and gotten no luck at all with?