So here is what I did, not knowing what carrying capacity for my area. I have 120 hives. Six apiaries with 20 hives each. They are all within 6 miles of each other, about a mile apart each.
Today, a noted bee researcher paid a personal visit to me. My one question was Am I at carrying capacity? She said, Yes. That my area would best hold 80 hives. (My beekeeping situation is unusual, and I do not have the ability to move my hives anywhere elsewhere). I'm "over grazing".
She said the commercial rule for clover is 40 hives per apiary, separated 2 miles apart.
Two hives in the same apiary overlap don't they?
If I can place 40 hives every two miles for a total of a 6 mile span I should be able to place 20 hives one mile apart for a total of 6 mile span is all I am saying. To me the grazing characteristics should be better in the latter because there are less hives in each apiary. Having more apiaries should better determine where the nectar source is stronger so more hives could be placed in those apiaries.
Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping
My answer to this question comes from my experience here in NW Arkansas. When I had 17 hives in my home yard, I had predatory robbing during high summer when there is nothing blooming. Right now, I have 20 and it's getting dry. I'm going to be moving eight hives to a new yard on Friday. That will get me closer to what I want of around 8 hives per yard. It's not as efficient as having a whole bunch in one big yard, but it's better than losing hives to robbing. I lost two last summer and nearly one more. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLlbuwJUg2U