There's quite a bit of interest among hobbyist beekeepers to learn through doing rather than talking. Formal courses, though useful to many cannot be attended by everyone because of time commitments etc etc. I've read about people starting a yard where individuals (nubies) own their own hive(s) and equipment but place their hives together in a single yard. Someone with experience charges a fee and becomes the "yard master" if you like and that person shows the others (through doing with them) the best practices that (s)he knows. After a few seasons the now experienced beekeepers "graduate" to their own yards and new ones take their place. It seems to me to be a useful practice and it could help "propagate" the beekeepers rather than just the bees, graduating good, successful, experienced, beekeepers who could now cascade the whole process.
Does anyone out there have ANY first hand experience with such a setup? Can they share please? Anything from the contractual/business arrangement to the feelings and ideas would be welcome.
I believe there are several members here who do this and I have a friend who does it. My only takeaway from my friend is that you have to be committed and it is a losing financial proposition. He has several people who want to learn, but don't want to work too much, and many people who just want to have a couple hives and do no work but get some honey to give to family and friends. He thinks it could work financially but he would have to give up the people who might become beekeepers who take up his time, and just serve rich people who want to be able to say that they are "beekeepers". So, he is conflicted. J
I think it is an interesting concept and I have never heard of it before. I would highly recommend a contractual agreement that explicitly addressed things like abandonment of hives and treatment protocols. I am guessing you might have a difficult time running a "mixed" yard with both treaters and non-treaters. I would also have some "yard rules" where it was clearly spelled out that I am not baby sitting your hive and doing all of the work. Basically, I am not going into your hive unless you are here suited up with your hands on frames. I would want the express right to treat, remove or destroy in the event I deemed it necessary for the general health of the other hives in the yard. Not sure I could devise a successful business model, but if you wanted to take it on out of a passion for the hobby, it could be fun. Maybe in some very wealthy areas it could work financially.
Thanks a million Fivej for the infrmation. Beinga perpetual optimist I can't help wondering if you are describing actually a good situation. It seems that the lazy rich folk might buy shares (or some other financial vehicle) in the Coop and get their honey as dividend. The serious folk might be subsidized by the share capital and would learn for less of a dollar investment from themselves. They would give up most of their honey harvest to get that. But they would learn and gain experience for teh day that they can do it by themselves. Thoughts?
I found a group that does this very thing. Two groups of five colonies...one year group and two year group. After second year, that group takes their bees home and a new one year group is started. I had supper with the mentor, and his method was inspiring. I wish I had time for something similar. I'd send you there but it's in Worcestershire, UK.
I ran a program this year called the Nuc Nanny that is something along these lines (only shorter). Will be repeating it next spring (https://beekeepers.org.au/event-2825944). Essentially the club provided purchased queens and supervised the 10 beginners in setting up nucs and inspecting them weekly as they developed. Over a month they saw queen release, commencement of laying and build up in strength. At the end they took them home to install. It was very successful and the participants loved it. Noticeable how their confidence in handling bees improved and how quickly they "learned by doing". Can't claim to have thought this up myself as I pinched the idea from a colleague at another club here in Melbourne.
Our club has a “nuc yard,” where any club member can come and get some experience. There are meetings held every other Sunday throughout the season, and one fellow is in charge of running the group. The idea is that people can come and practice and learn from others while getting hands-on experience. The bees do get man-handled a bit, and only half make it through the winter, but it is considered an important learning experience. The cost of the program (5-10 new nucs each year) is covered by the club, and the hives are hosted by our states agricultural resource council.