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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm looking for beekeeper(s) in the Payson area, or failing that, in the Rim country in general. I'm a complete newbee but am seriously thinking about getting a couple of hives in the spring.

Aside from needing general mentoring and some hands on experience of my own, I do have some area specific questions.

I live in the middle of the Tonto National Forest (private inholding) but can't keep bees on my property due to family and nearby neighbors who would strongly object out of fear of the bees. (It would be legal, it would just not be neighborly.) Also, we have goats and dogs I'm a little nervous about having a hive in close proximity to the other animals on the off chance the bees got upset someday -- hive gets knocked over or something like that.

I am putting feelers out for someone who might want to let me keep a few hives on their property but if that doesn't pan out, has anyone ever had any luck with getting permission to put the hives in the National Forest?

Directly related to that is the question of bears. We have bears here, though they're usually pretty skittish about people. Can bears truly be kept out with (solar powered) electric fencing?

We are surrounded by a lot of forest (and no agriculture to speak of.) There are a LOT of wild bees in the area. How much of an issue will disease likely be, and do I need to worry about Africanized bees crossbreeding with my bees? (I'm at 5800 feet in an area that gets hard freezes every winter -- I've heard varying things about there being Africanized bees up here.)

I'm excited about getting into this -- I've been fascinated by bees since I was a little kid. (Got stung by bees multiple times as a preschooler trying to "pet" them -- I was a weird kid.) Also, at my old home down in the desert I had a feral hive happily living in a Palo Verde tree for about ten years. (Wasn't aggressive, so I figured it could stay. Also, it had the benefit of keeping the neighbor's kids from bothering my animals, LOL.)
 

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You have goats, so I am assuming you have a pretty nice piece of property. I can't address your question about keeping bees in a national forest , but let's talk about why you would not want to keep bees on YOUR property that YOU pay taxes on.

I think you should reconsider keeping bees on your own property. I bet with a little friendly education, you could ease all concerned party's worries.

Imagine how nice it would be to not have to drive a few miles when you need to tend your hives. How big is your property?

Todd
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I live here with family, and don't own the property.

Keeping bees here is just not an option. It's a close knit community, the neighbors are over all the time, and a few are REALLY scared of bees and their children are terrified.

It doesn't help that we have meat bees (yellow jackets) that look, to a casual eye, a lot like honey bees and have attacked people recently and often from underground nests. Several people are phobic about anything that buzzes and it just wouldn't work -- there would be a community uproar.

So before I can keep bees, I need to find a place where they'll be welcome. I don't think that will be a huge issue -- there is vacant land around here and a few ranches, if I can't get permission from the forest service. But even before I start hunting for a spot, I'd like to find someone who needs a helper, to make sure this is something I really want to do. ;-)
 

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Totally understand. Didn't realize it was a rental type situation and can definitely understand yielding to the community. I will be keeping an eye out for your posts and progress as the wife and I are looking to relocate in a few years. The western states have crossed our minds, but a little concerned about the arid environment and agriculture.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
My retired parents own it, I don't. :) But there is definitely an issue with the community members who are afraid of bees, and my folks are not thrilled with the idea either, so no bees here. If I ever get my own place I will have bees on it, with a nice privacy fence around them, and just not say anything. But that's way down the road.

Re: agriculture -- there are several areas in Arizona where there's ample water for agriculture. If you're just looking at growing a back yard garden and keeping livestock for personal use, the climate won't be as big of an issue as you think in Arizona -- Arizona's in a better situation than other Southwestern states when it comes to water and I don't foresee rationing in the future for residential users (and small scale backyard growers). You can even find (expensive) residential parcels in the Phoenix metro area that have irrigation and enough land for livestock, a legacy of Phoenix's days as a farm town.

Making a living at ag in this state on a commercial scale is difficult, though. Property is expensive. Property with water is more expensive -- even though you can FIND property with water easily enough, it will be very expensive to buy. If it's cheap, there's something wrong with it, LOL.

We are up in the high country NE of Payson and we have plenty of water and the climate isn't really "arid" in the way most people think of it. Arizona's high country has pine trees and four seasons, :) :) :) though with 20" of rain a year, we do need to water the garden.

We have a deep well that we could irrigate with, if we chose. It's got a great flow and a great aquifer with good water. Many wells are not that good, though if you go deep enough your chances of getting a decent well in our area are very good. (Deep enough is around 7000-900 feet.) So we don't have a problem with watering. It is, however, a small one acre lot.

To put the kind of money needed to buy into a decent sized parcel that could be turned into a farm in perspective -- if you have around $$$ 4 million to spend, I can point you to an 80 acre homestead (from the 1860s) with water rights, pastures, actual flowing springs and a perennial creek, century old fruit trees, a trout pond with arm length rainbows, barns, newer large luxury homes (seven total if I remember right), all surrounded completely on all sides by Tonto National Forest. Gated road, too, and the microclimate there is probably as wet as anywhere else in the state. It's RIGHT at the base of the Mogollon Rim, which is a 1000 foot escarpment that generates a lot of rain ... and makes for a spectacular view, too, LOL.

At that kind of price, though, you'd be hard pressed to see a profit for most ag products. Be a fantastic gentleman's ranch or hobby farm, though. (There's seven houses -- an owner could rent some out as luxury vacation cabins during the summer, and later in the fall to elk and bear hunters who would be beyond thrilled to have access to the apple orchards on that property. I have seen some VERY large elk in the area of that ranch. And other vacation cabins in the area stay rented out pretty much year round.)

And that's a typical price for a "real" ranch in this area that you could actually develop into an actual ag property.

$60-$100K in this area, by contrast, will buy you a not-very-flat acre (think "terracing required to grow anything") lot with nothing on it, and very expensive water from a water association -- or the option of drilling your own well. Engineered septic system required. And soil that is either clay or bedrock, meaning most crops would need raised beds, so again with the "not economical." We have to haul our dirt in and grow veggies in raised beds because you could throw a pot with the clay on this property.

You can get big parcels for not much money on top of the Rim, and in other areas of the state, but they typically are off the grid AND the water is a few thousand feet down. Takes a pretty big solar setup or a big generator to pump water from a couple thousand feet in the ground. (Not economical, in other words.) And there's still often issues with soil quality.

We do have a 6-8 month growing season. And certain things -- fruit trees, notably -- grow extremely well here. There are wild apples along the creek that have been there since the 1860s and pear trees at the ranch I mentioned that are well over a century old and 70-80 feet tall.

Other areas in the state have other issues -- either blistering hot summers, saline groundwater, lack of groundwater, expensive city water, smog (in the low desert areas, air pollution bad enough to damage veggies is a real issue), white flies and other pests. And no matter where you go, the land is going to be more expensive than comparable land in most areas of the country.

How does this relate to beekeeping? -- I've had a hard time finding any local beekeepers, because most people here are just not into agriculture of any kind if it doesn't go MOO. We're seen as odd for keeping a dozen chickens and a few goats and having a veggie garden.
 

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Thank you for some good info about your region. I didn't mean to hijack your post and make it about me (but I did lol). Best way to learn about other geographic locations is to talk to people from ther. Thanks again.

Todd
 
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