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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Had a local grape farm offer to make a purchase of 20 packages of bees next spring. They are offering to pay well in advance if I sign a contract.

The terms are basically

I provide all maintenance to the bees for the year.
I keep atleast 15 hives active for the whole year. (when in bloom mainly)
I keep all of the honey and products the bees produce
I keep the bee's chemical free

I will not be responsible for loss due to damage from natural reasons. Such as bears, weather, or wild fires. (basically acts of GOD)



Negative I forsee

I will be very limited on my experience
Having to purchase more wood products
Having to work much harder being so new


By this time I will have about a years experience with working with bee's.

Would this be a wise move to accept so early?

I really want to be successful at beekeeping. Not looking to make a million bucks but it would be nice to turn a little bit of profit in a few years.

Does grapes make good honey.
 

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HJ:
Lots of vineyards here and one of my bee yards is located 1/2 mile from one.
Most grapes (all?) are wind pollinated. And they get sprayed alot.
Fortunately, most of my bees pass right by them and only during grape harvest time do I see or
I'm 'notified' that my bees are there. They seem to go after
the crushed or damaged grapes for the sweet grape juice.

Many vineyards here have some token hives on the estate but it's more for the ecotourism value.
Never heard of honey from grapes but others may know better.
IMO any hive products you get with hives located on a vineyard will be the result of the flora in the
surrounding countryside.
They spray grapes alot, oh I already said that.
Clyde
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well the property also has alot of watermelons as well. I think that is the main reason for the need for the bee's. I do not think spray is used on this property because it is an organic farm.
 

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>Does grapes make good honey.
None that I know of. Do they?
I don't think grapes even need bee pollination. Do they?

What are they in it for?

>Having to purchase more wood products
A MannLake Expanding Apiary Kit costs $310. plus tax X 20 = about $6800.
20 packages of bees X $100 = $2000. You are making more than three times the investment that they are at the onset.
What other honey plants are in range of the grape farm? What is the average production in that area? What pesticides do they spray? Will they buy replacement bees next year if needed? Do you have six grand to play with?
 

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As one who keeps lots of bees on the edges of Gods wine country in Napa and Sonoma counties in California I can tell you the only time the bees work the grapes is when the wasps cut the ripe ones open. Growers really don't like it at $3 k a ton for bee feed either.

If you fail to keep 15 alive because you drive down the TF road who pays for the packages?????? If you are get ready to be the slave who pays for his own shackles!!!!

What happens after the first year??????? Sounds like a way to set a hook for what they really want and a great way for the beek to lie dangling on the end of the line wrapped up in his own over eagerness.

Renegotiate!!!!!!! :ws:
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It is on a grape farm. But they have a large melon farm as well. I am thinking the bees will be needed for the melons mainly. But I do not think I will take on such a big undertaking with my limited experience.
 

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HJ:
why not manage their bees for them? their bees and equipment.
discuss your compensation for managing the apiary for their needs.
compensation could be money, honey or ???
PM me if you'd like.
 

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Almost all grapes are self pollinating. Rare varieties such as the Minnesota 78 require a pollinator. Wind plays a small part only in the process.
 

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I don't have pollination contracts so for what it's worth, the math doesn't add up to me.
Thier cost for 20 packages is $2000 +- , the need is for 15 hives which works out to $133.00 per hive cost. Why do they want bees year round, I would think $100.00 per hive and they could find a experienced keeper (no offense) to bring them in when needed and pull when done.
On your end I can't imagine it costing less than $50.00 per trip to to visit and you'd need to check at least 1 a month. Add a little feed,a mechanical repair and subtract a couple hives of dead outs and the remaining "free" bees could end up costing you.
 

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I have my bees right on the edge of a vineyard. The vineyard owners said that the grapes that they have pollinate themselves but the bees improve the overall surrounding environment which helps increase beneficial insects etc. I have seen grapes mentioned in pollination presentations though.
I moved my bees there when the flow ended and the fall flow was almost non existent so after spring the younger hives needed to be fed.

I would want to do what you are doing just for the experience but there may be some other costs beside just woodenware. You may have to feed them and it can get expensive. I fed over twenty hives this year in the fall and they took a good bit of syrup. Frame feeders and water pitcher turned out to be my preferred method for feeding. I carried the water for it in the van and mixed the syrup on site. If you can get sugar in bulk that will help with the cost. You will learn a bunch when you are working with twenty hives. Get some extra hive tools. I seem to misplace them and drop them in the grass and stuff:eek::) bees on the mountain.jpg
 

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At first glance it looks a bad deal. But that depends on what you want and what success would be for you.

Look at this opportunity another way. Free bees.

If you wanted to increase your own hive count, you could let their bees build up and then split aggressively after the watermelon bloom, leaving them with 20 or more nucs to overwinter. The rest of the produce from the bees, the nucs, are yours to sell or keep for next year. And what happens to your woodenware if you decide not to renew the contract next year?
 

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It is on a grape farm. But they have a large melon farm as well. I am thinking the bees will be needed for the melons mainly. But I do not think I will take on such a big undertaking with my limited experience.
How many acres of grapes near Myrtle Beach, SC constitutes a grape farm? What kind of grapes do they grow? Are they making and selling wine?

What does your Uncle say?
 

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Grapes are insect pollinated as a rule, but not by bees -- no nectar to speak of, although they do smell nice. I've had grapes here for almost 60 years (they were planted the year after I was born) and have never seen bees on the grapes in the spring. Lots of them after a rain bursts the ripe grapes or the wasps and bumblebees cut them open, but never during bloom.

I would be leery of any proposal that involves you putting out a considerable amount of money while providing a service -- almost always you will come out on the short end of the stick. If they are willing to allow you access and you would like to expand, sure, I'd put some hives there, but no promises on how many or assurances that you will maintain a fixed number. Pollinating melons is a different issue, and if there isn't sufficient forage outside of the melon patch you will need to feed protein supplement. This is the same issue almond pollinators have, but I suspect this situation will be different, I don't suppose this is a couple thousand acre operation.

Peter
 

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A similar offer was accepted by beginners near here, also an organic farm with raspberries. The beginners invested in 20 hives, the surrounding land was barren. The farmers allowed a commercial guy to move in 100 hives about 1000 feet away. The beginners hives were promptly robbed out by the well fed commercial bees, and the beginner had to move his bees out.

>I would be leery of any proposal that involves you putting out a considerable amount of money while providing a service -- almost always you will come out on the short end of the stick.

>why not manage their bees for them? their bees and equipment.
discuss your compensation for managing the apiary for their needs.
compensation could be money, honey or ???

If they do not accept this offer you know they are just trying to get you to take on most of the expenses.
 

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I have a vineyard and orchard

Have not seen my bees working grape pollen ever
But on the positive side your swarms are a easy pick in the vineyard no ladders required
 

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I've read a bit online about cover crops and their use in orchards and vineyards. Based on what I have read clover and other legumes are very popular and have extended bloom periods. That might provide significant nectar and fit in well with the organic grape frame of mind.
 

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I'm too new to know anything about the finances, but the fact that they are organic would interest me. It's pretty much unheard of here. I only know of one organic farm here and it's just a few acres. At least your bees should be safe from chemicals there. It does sound like working out a fair deal would be complicated.
 
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