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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am wondering how feasible it is to establish a couple of bee colonies (for hobby) in heavily forested areas typical of timber lands in the Pacific Northwest. The location would be at about elevation 1200, about 1 hour East of Portland, Oregon. These areas typically provide a combination of mature trees (Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Big Leaf Maple, and Red Alder) and also lots of young vegetation (brushy plants, grasses, ferns, etc) at locations where the trees have been harvested.

During late summer and fall of last year I noticed lots of flowers in bloom (lots of blackberry too) well after other areas at lower elevations had ceased blooming. So I figured this would be a good location for bees. However, I visited this area yesterday and was surprised to see very few blooms compared to what I see in the Portland/Vancouver area. I imagine the reason is the difference in elevation.

As you can imagine, I started having doubts about bringing bees there. I know people keep bees at much higher altitudes, but I don't know about keeping bees in predominantly evergreen forests. I have seen bees there in the past so I am still thinking I want to give this a try.

There are a plentiful water sources there too.

Thoughts?
 

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I would assume that since berries were blooming later, they probably started later. Also my big concern would be bears, so I hope you were planning on an solar powered fence? Also maybe a clearing so they get sun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, I plan on installing a solar powered fence. I have a nice clearing I plan on using

I should also mention due to the mountainous setting, one can go some 500' up or down in elevation in a short distance (less than a mile). I suspect flowers bloom earlier at the lower elevation and later at higher elevations. I am hoping this may provide sufficient food sources.
 

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Before you put bees there you have to understand the ecosystem in the forest. In the 4 seasons what else can
provide for the bees while they're unattended. During the summer dearth will they have enough food? Are you going to be there
to provide supplement feeding when needed?
 

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I'm on Bald Peak SW of Portland at 1200 ft. All around us is forest. We've got lots of fir, maple, etc. But there's also snowberry, blackberry, salmon berry, madrone, etc.

Not quite the same as the foothills of the Cascades as it's all 5 acre+ lots. We've also got a small orchards, etc.
This year everything's WAY behind due to cold winter. Maples are just coming into bloom. Cherry/plum too.

Nice thing is that the bees can work their way up and down the hill as things bloom. Within a mile and a half its up to 1600ft and as low as about 500ft.

Trick is getting the bees warm enough to start build up. About 12-14 days ago my hives had very little brood. Today I've got a mix of capped, and all stages of larva. I have been feeding lightly. They've only had a few good days of foraging this Spring. They were bringing in lots of pollen today and had a few frames of raw nectar.

Second year keeper after about a 30 year break, so take it all with a grain. Was able to keep my hives alive over the Winter. Wtih this winter as bad as it was I consider that an accomplishment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I probably won't be feeding much if any.

Thanks for the great info Zonedar! I do think blooms are later than usual in these parts. I do think the bees in my particular situation would also be able to fly to lower elevations where they can find more food sources this time of the year and then go up to higher elevations when it makes sense.

The particular area I am considering has lots of berries too. The biggest difference is I may have more timber forest land, which may not be an ideal situation. There are some areas that were clearcut last year though, so there would be very diverse flora for sure there.

Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I should also add, these timber forests also have a lot of Vine Maple. The article below quotes someone as stating "the vine maple is a more important honey plant than the broadleaf (bigleaf) maple.
 

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I know the fire weeds will bloom through the summer months. Too bad I cannot get any here. The expensive seeds I bought online did
not sprout either. Do vine maples bloom during the summer death there too?
 

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Where about are you? As high as Welches or down by Sandy? These days 1 hr east of Portland in the rush hour puts you to about Gresham:banana:
Any clear cut, power line or highway clearance gives you plenty for the bees, you just start later. I was going to move a handful up to Aimes this year and take advantage of the late blackberry flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Do vine maples bloom during the summer death there too?
I've read Vine Maples bloom April thru June.

Where about are you? As high as Welches or down by Sandy? These days 1 hr east of Portland in the rush hour puts you to about Gresham:banana:
Any clear cut, power line or highway clearance gives you plenty for the bees, you just start later. I was going to move a handful up to Aimes this year and take advantage of the late blackberry flow.
The place is actually in Washougal, WA, roughly across the river from Multnomah Falls, but some 5 miles North from the river. The area is know as the Yacolt Burn (a huge forest fire in 1902). There are power line cleared areas too. The place is a little cooler than down in the valley. It makes sense that brood production would start a couple of weeks later than in the Portland/Vancouver area. As it is, blooms in the Portland/Vancouver area are a couple of weeks later than usual so it really feels like it is very late up there.

Thanks for all the input!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Update: I moved a split to this timber forest location about a week ago. Today I checked on them and one thing caught my attention. These bees look substantially fatter, than their sister bees in the Portland area. I am sure it is nutrition related. I also saw them bringing more varied pollen colors than what I am used to seen in the city. It is amazing that these bees look so much bigger after only one week. I was bringing another frame of bees with me so I actually had bees to compare with.

We'll see how bees do here thru the other seasons.
 

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I think all the bees your seeing in your hive were all born or capped back in Portland. in 3 weeks you will have bees that were fed from birth on the pollen from the forests. i dont think its possible thst the bees are bigger yet as there has been no population turn over from city to mountain bees yet.or is my math/understanding wrong? do bees get fatter or are they more or less what they are when they are born?
 

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Good eye Jeronimo. Bees get fatter/larger on honey and pollen flows. It is totally a nutrition thing. Those fatter bees in turn can feed more jelly to larvae, resulting in longer lived adults, strictly because of the superior location. I am in the Fraser valley about 5 hours or so North of you and we have had 8 of the last 10 days that have been spectacular. I have bees on blueberries and the flow although very late has been very good. It will pretty much end in 3 days as the weather turns cool and cloudy, but what a nice little run. Salmon berries have been out for a week or so, and I saw some blackberries open yesterday, not the Himalyan ones but the other kind. I don't know their name. Blackberries will put out a large amount of flowers this year based on all the rain we had this winter and spring, so says my crystal ball.

I have had bees at times where varroa loads were getting pretty high without apparent damage from varroa because they were on a good honeyflow. The superior nutrition ensures that the immune system is working at it's best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
...I dont think its possible thst the bees are bigger yet as there has been no population turn over from city to mountain bees yet.or is my math/understanding wrong? do bees get fatter or are they more or less what they are when they are born?
I didn't think so either, but I noticed the same bee size change in winter. In researching I came across some info linking bee size to nutrition.

http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fat-bees-part-1/

Jean-Mark, thanks for sharing all that good info. Reading more on this. It appears bees also store more resources in their bodies when they are not rearing brood.

” When broodrearing is curtailed in fall, the emerging workers tank up on pollen, and since they have no brood to feed, they store all that good food in their bodies, thus preparing themselves for a long life through the winter. These well-nourished, long-lived bees have been called “fat” bees (Sommerville 2005; Mussen 2007). Fat bees are chock-full of vitellogenin.
I mention this, because the colony I brought up to this forest have a virgin queen and currently have no brood. So it is likely they are also fatter due to not rearing brood.

It also makes sense that bees with more vitellogenin have longer live spans to help the colony survive thru the long winter. We'll the same can be true during a broodless period, where bees may need to live longer to ensure colony survival.

So it could be that these bees are really fat due to better food sources, a nice flow, and a broodless period.
 

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I kept bees at 1200 feet about 5 miles north of Washougal for over 20 years (Camas address). They did well there. I was surprised how much they worked Cascara. I put honey supers on about the time Cascara bloomed.

The flow was over between July 15 and August 1. I used a Parmak fencer between March and November and the hives (up to 25) were right by my house. Honey is light.

You can see bees on dewberry, salmon berry, salal, vine maple, cascara, blackberry, some holly, wild cherry, etc. I was kind of surprised how well they did. When I moved there it seemed like It was all fir and alder. After I got bees I noticed how diverse the forest actually was.
 

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Jeronimo:

Bees also get fatter in anticipation of egg laying. Your virgin is mated and is about to egg lay. Bees eat a lot of pollen in preperation for the upcoming jelly needs of the soon to be hatching eggs.

Jean-Marc
 
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