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discouraged , disturbing trend

3246 Views 8 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  fish_stix
Beekeeping in my area has changed drasticly in the last couple of years. It seems that the big players have undergone an attitude change recently and it's causing quite a problem for the sideliners and small comercial beekeepers. We are an easy haul into almonds and with the prices paid in california ,they no longer feel the need to compete when at home. the crops that used to be an important part of thier income are now only viewed as food for the bees. raspberries were $35 dollars and last year one guy did them for free. red clover was $25 - 30 and now $5 - 10. I had one guy come onto my farm with a roll of cash and tried to pay me to set bees in my clover . When I told him that no bees were needed he just upped the offer. When I tried to explain to him that what he was doing would be bad for the industry in general he got his knickers in quite a twist. No longer are they trying for any income from summer pollination but simply prepping thier bees for the next year in california with no concern with the quality of polination or honey produced. One very large (5000+ hives) player fed bees while increasing the number of supers. yes this was durring a wet period but I will never be convinced that the bees needed more and then more room again while subsisting only on feed. Can this practice produce good honey?
The unsuspecting farmers are getting weak splits for pollination but can't see past the very low or even free prices. if any concerns are voiced then more free splits are moved in . I don't have time or the number of bees to haul to almonds and always have done ok with summer pollination and honey sales. Us small guys are finding fewer and fewer jobs to help pay the cost of being in business and if this continues, will have to give up. Someday these farmers who are enjoying low prices today may find that only two or three beekeepers control all of the bees and the low prices are gone. At that point the free market will take over and bees will be hauled in and new players will start up but I will not be around.
I guess the phrase GO BIG OR GO HOME applys here.

Discouraged and nearly beaten.

Any hope?
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Hope? Not a problem, It appears that the pollination fees from almonds far outweigh the profits from honey production. Could that be because the "funny honey" has depressed the price for real honey? Work with your legislators and get honey defined in a manner that shuts down the "Funny honey" mills, and promotes production of real honey. I am not a fan of government over site, but it appears that this is an issue that the industry has failed to police on their own. (note how I did not blame a certain board that SHOULD have done this very thing?).

Hope? (note how I did not blame a certain board that SHOULD have done this very thing?).
Ah heck Roland, they were to busy collecting there penny assement from us.

Kinda like the goverment, don't worry about providing services, just collect the taxes (money).
lol, big packers test and know what they're packing, that's for sure. Don't expect them to push for any regulation when it'll just raise their overhead:ws
You have to adapt to changing market conditions and pressures.

Small time guys and sideliners should be able to maintain a footprint of competitive advantage.

Pollination isn't the only moneymaker in beekeeping.

The horse drawn buggy manufacturers weren't too happy about automotives either.

Learn to adapt to changing market conditions. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Take the time you normally spent on doing pollination, and work on developing a bigger retail honey market, for example.
I'm only going to answer a few of these comments. Maybe shouldn't say anything at all. You should of talked to some of the commercial beekeepers here in Oregon. I think you would had an answer to a lot of your concerns, instead of spouting off in here. By the way, the Pendulum swings both ways hevyduty.

There's always beeks out there that in order to get a contract will do it for free. I had two beeks do this on a cherry contract that I have, seems like every year.

There seems to be one group of beeks that undercut prices in Almonds in California. With more frequency. This same type of group are starting to do it in Oregon too.

In my area we have one beek the rents singles every year for the full pollination price. I think most are 4 frame nucs he gets from California. He been doing this for at least 20 yrs.

As to feeding the bees, this year was very wet here in Oregon. A lot of us were feeding our hives during the first week in June. We try to have our bees built up for the honey flow in June. This year was TOUGH. We had to feed to keep the colonies built up for the honey flow and also to keep the strong colonies alive. While waiting for the weather to break.
Before all the Rain I had maybe 30lbs of honey on my hives they ate that up and more. Many of us lost colonies by not getting to them on time. Hevyduty should of understood this. But maybe it's do to his inexperience.

Hevyduty they give a class every year at the local community college on beginning beekeeping, put on by Willamette Valley Beekeepers Association, maybe you should take it. I myself find it very interesting and productive. Many of your questions and concerns could be answered there. They also meet on the 4th Monday of the month.

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I guess the phrase GO BIG OR GO HOME applys here.

Any hope?
Nope. This is the state of business today, no matter what industry you're looking at. Go big, cut overhead including labor, or get squeezed out... that's part of why the economy is in the crapper today. Too many small guys getting squeezed out of their markets by the big guys that send US Dollars overseas where labor is cheap. All that new government regulations have seemed to manage to do is clamp the vice down even harder on the small guys... no coincidence that big corps. and foreign corps. were recently given the green light to spend as much as they want to bribe our elected officials to ensure it won't get any better for any of us...

Yeah... :ws

Either that or we go big.
lol, big packers test and know what they're packing, that's for sure. Don't expect them to push for any regulation when it'll just raise their overhead:ws
Gamber and others have.
I'm going to backup what Countryboy said. Changing markets open up new markets for those with the gumption to jump in headfirst. Adapt! There are steady, if not increasing, markets for good, "pure" honey in every part of this country. People are tired of the crap at the local supermarket, cut with HFCS, imported from China and elsewhere. Health food stores and organic markets are looking for product. It's almost impossible to meet the requirements for "Organic" designation for honey, but you can get close, and explain that to the stores. The word "Local" on your label is magic! Additionally, sell nucs and hives. How many of those almond pollinators come back with empty boxes? The number of U.S. beekeeping operations is shrinking while the population is expanding rapidly. Looks like some booming markets to me!
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