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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Mapleton, Ut
    Posts
    11

    Default How many Hives???

    If there is 25 125 acre Pivots of Alfalfa being cut at 15% flowering. in the middle of the Desert with virtually no other Flowering sources other than the mesquite when it blooms. how many Hives could be comfortably run off of these fields? is there a standard ratio of Hives per acre on alfalfa? before they don't have enough feed?

    thanks
    Dustin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    It seems to me that Dee Lusby has about 20 to 40 hives in each of her apiaries in the middle of the Sonora desert. There are miles between them. They are always next to water tanks for cattle with board as floats for the bees. They are thriving. You may be underestimating the value of the desert and how many other sources there are. The alfalfa won't hurt...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Mapleton, Ut
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    It seems to me that Dee Lusby has about 20 to 40 hives in each of her apiaries in the middle of the Sonora desert. There are miles between them. They are always next to water tanks for cattle with board as floats for the bees. They are thriving. You may be underestimating the value of the desert and how many other sources there are. The alfalfa won't hurt...
    You are Most likely correct. I am hoping for that, but want to be prepared. I have an opportunity to Winter some Hives there, instead of Storing them in a Warehouse. also all the fields are in the same area next to each other. probably in about a 6 Square mile area. the water source would be the Constant Watering of the fields from the pivots. the fields are cut and watered at varying stages... so there is always water and always alfalfa in bloom.

    Dustin

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    640

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    She also runs 3 deeps, so the hives have a lot of resources to weather dearths.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,593

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    >She also runs 3 deeps

    Mostly she runs 5 deeps. I've only seen a few that were 3 deeps... and yes she leaves them plenty of resources and only feeds in really bad years.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,569

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Quote Originally Posted by dkdusey View Post
    If there is 25 125 acre Pivots of Alfalfa being cut at 15% flowering. in the middle of the Desert with virtually no other Flowering sources other than the mesquite when it blooms. how many Hives could be comfortably run off of these fields? is there a standard ratio of Hives per acre on alfalfa? before they don't have enough feed?

    thanks
    Dustin
    Alfalfa is an unpredictable nectar source. My experience is it often yields the best when temps are high and the alfalfa is somewhat drought stressed. It's both caught me by surprise and disappointed me. I wouldn't get my hopes up to high with irrigated alfalfa. Seems like the water can go more for growth and less for nectar. The best answer is going to come from someone in your area who has tried it. I would inquire about spray, though. I have heard lots of sad alfalfa stories from out west.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland OR. United States
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Around here first cutting gets hit by bug spray. Any of the second cutting that wasn;t hit during the first round generaly gets hit by bug spray. Over all the bees don't like to work it if anything else is available. If you have a feild in full bloom that has been drought stressed as Jim said above the bees can make a killer honey crop.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,781

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    I concur with Jim:

    My experience is it often yields the best when temps are high and the alfalfa is somewhat drought stressed.

    But a shot in the dark with alfalfa always beats corn and northern soybeans.

    We put our bees near silos and windmills.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    721

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Around here you get 1 week of late bud/early flowering before the alfalfa is cut. It can bring in 4 -5 one week flows a year. I wouldn't count on it though.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
    Facebook

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    1,446

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Also on your radar should be your number two consideration: Your answer partially depends on how many hives the competition has sitting on the other side of the field or over the hill.

    Thank God for Google earth and the ability to put a plane on its side to see whats out there...
    Last edited by Honey-4-All; 08-16-2014 at 12:25 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Alfalfa is an unpredictable nectar source. My experience is it often yields the best when temps are high and the alfalfa is somewhat drought stressed. It's both caught me by surprise and disappointed me. I wouldn't get my hopes up to high with irrigated alfalfa. Seems like the water can go more for growth and less for nectar. The best answer is going to come from someone in your area who has tried it. I would inquire about spray, though. I have heard lots of sad alfalfa stories from out west.
    This interests me. We have miles of alfalfa that is just starting to bloom after the first and only cut. I have been praying for rain, as we haven't had any in a month but perhaps its for the best. Under dry conditions how could alfalfa produce more nectar? Seems counter-intuitive?
    Luke

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    North Okananagan BC Canada
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Quote Originally Posted by sharpdog View Post
    This interests me. We have miles of alfalfa that is just starting to bloom after the first and only cut. I have been praying for rain, as we haven't had any in a month but perhaps its for the best. Under dry conditions how could alfalfa produce more nectar? Seems counter-intuitive?
    Luke
    Sharpdog,
    for what is worth, everything shut down here in the Okanagan by mid July, I have irrigated alfalfa near by, but water is expensive and they sure don't give it as much as the corn fields. My first year hives are averaging two weeks to build comb fill and cap a medium. It has to be alfalfa, other than corn and lawns nothing else is green let alone in bloom. We are on the left overs from the second cut and some fields have been cut a third time so they are short but in bloom.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    877

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Under dry conditions how could alfalfa produce more nectar? Seems counter-intuitive?
    Luke
    I'm just guessing but, the sugar content of the nectar will be higher under drier conditions. Besides taking less nectar to make a pound of honey it could be that it is also much more attractive to the bees.

    Tom

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,487

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Alfalfa taps deep into the sub soil and draws moisture beneath what most crops can reach

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,569

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Quote Originally Posted by sharpdog View Post
    This interests me. We have miles of alfalfa that is just starting to bloom after the first and only cut. I have been praying for rain, as we haven't had any in a month but perhaps its for the best. Under dry conditions how could alfalfa produce more nectar? Seems counter-intuitive?
    Luke
    Yes it does seem odd but I have seen it time after time. Ian is quite right, alfalfa will root down as deep as 15'. Heres another oddity. Alfalfa honey produced at higher elevations is generally darker than alfalfa honey at lower elevations. Anything much over 5,000' will usually grade out in the ELA range (35mm and above). Our alfalfa at the 2,000' range is usually in the mid to upper 20 mm range.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Midland OR. United States
    Posts
    104

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    The elevation idea is interesting. I am at 4300 feet and my alfalfa honey comes out dark. I just thought the bees were mixing something else with it. This is good to know.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,781

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Ian and Jim are right about the roots. The subsoil has an effect also. Some of our yards are on clay, the others on glacial till A.K.A. sand and gravel, which dries out fast. They react to rain and drought differently.

    The "Bull of the Woods" would say that a dry spell after cutting alfalfa MIGHT cause the alfalfa to bloom before it was tall enough to cut. That was the situation with some of our yards in August of 2012.

    Crazy Roland

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sedgwick Co. KS
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    Quite often older stands of alfalfa will be left to go to seed after the third cutting in a dry year. That's when you want have bees there. Owners often look for bees to help with pollination during this time too. A good seed crop can be lucrative for both bee owners & farmers.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    dennison MN
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    farmers here are on the 5th cutting. been a great year for growing it here but not making honey off it. we have heavy soil so we need hot and dry to make honey. some bee yards in sandy soil like roland spoke of did good this year while most in heavy soil did not do as well. only two days in the 90s here all year.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
    Posts
    769

    Default Re: How many Hives???

    We have bees on both irrigated and dry. Still have honey coming in from the irrigated fields while the dry fields couldnt come back from the drought. Not a bee on the flowers in the dry. Last year was opposite.

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