I live a couple miles from a few commercial gardens and greenhouses. They grow flowers and produce and have retail space at each one. A couple days ago I talked to the owner of one of the businesses about placing 2 or 3 hives on his commercial property next Spring. He was very open to it and in fact thought it was pretty cool. I told him he would benefit from the pollination and I would harvest the honey and if he wanted to I could wholesale some of it to him to retail in his store. I do not plan to charge for pollination services as I am just grateful for space to start a new apiary. And so close to home too!
So I want to enter into this with my eyes wide open. I am a first year beek with 2 hives on my property so I am green. What advice can anyone offer on making sure this stays a positive experience for the gardens owner and myself?
Very new beekeeper here, but many years in the commercial flower and veg. business.
I would be very hesitant to do this with my girls because of the pesticide risk. Commercial flowers (including bedding plants) and raising veg. (even organic veg.) involves substrtances that are quite bad for bees.
And to protect their crops and stay on schedule they have to continue their spray/ disease prevention programs, w/o regard to the safety of your bees. And the more varied the crops the more varied the substances needed within a small area - and the more complex it would be to time so as to minimize - note, I am not saying totally prevent - harm to foraging bees, either during application or afterward.
I grow veg. and produce bedding plants and it takes no small amount of forethought and planning for me to think about how have a safety plan for my own girls and still protect my crops. (Even though I am an unsually reluctant and sparse user of pesticides, even OMRI certified ones, compared to most growers.) And I'm willing to delay applications, sometimes until after dark, just to make sure the girls are safely inside. Would a commercial grower be willing to do that for you?
You definitely need to know what crops, what chemicals and how much effort the grower would be willing to invest in protecting the girls. And you might even need to plan to remove the girls, on short notice, if a sudden, urgent need arose. Could you do that?
Hope my concerns help you work out something good for you and your bees.