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New beekeeper here. How many acres of foraging materials do I need to plant per beehive ? Or where can I find such a calculation ? We have 100 acres of Almond trees already, just looking to add hedgerows and maybe designating some acreage just for the bees specifically. Any ideas ? Thanks ahead of time.
 

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It is a matter of avaliable forage throughout the season and forage density. Some areas in almond country may have difficulty sustaining only a few colonys when areas around alm9nd groves are too clean
 

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Welcome to Beesource!

One serious challenge to farming your own bees in almond growing areas in California is that in the early part of the year (before actual pollination) is that there are likely to be lots of 'migratory' bees. Those bees will be very happy to harvest whatever forage that you have planted for your bees. If you have 100 acres, your apiary location is easily within foraging distance of bees that are parked on neighboring properties. I predict that regardless of what you want to do, you will be forced to provide sugar/HFCS feed to your bees.

Your first priority should be to make sure that you understand what it takes, and implement, effective varroa control.
 

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New beekeeper here. How many acres of foraging materials do I need to plant per beehive ? Or where can I find such a calculation ? We have 100 acres of Almond trees already, just looking to add hedgerows and maybe designating some acreage just for the bees specifically. Any ideas ? Thanks ahead of time.
The CA beeks know the local details, but it would make sense to think of the forage outside of the pollination calendar.
That's when you'd have the least competition from the migratory bees - meaning you'd get most of the nectar/pollen to keep to yourself.

Like mentioned above - it makes little sense to serve the migratory bees.
What makes most sense is to serve your own (local) bees.
You do it by planting/acquiring forage that blooms off the pollination calendar.
Moreover - you ought to be planting staggering forage.
Or by find location(s) close to existing forage.

Enough said on this topic already.
 

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Hello and welcome!

To add to the others in this thread I'd like to run a little math with you.

It's said that bees will forage in an estimated 3 mile radius from their hive. They may go further in desert terrain or if food is scares, but for the sake of argument we'll stick to the 3 mile rule.
If the workers are flying up to that three mile distance then that would be 1,920 acres. So while 100 acres sounds like a lot, it may not be nearly enough.

But, there is also density to consider. If you have that many almond trees then they will have PLENTY of food while in bloom. But, as Radar Sidetrack pointed out, as soon as those blooms die off then there is nearly ZERO food for your hives. This is why all the commercial guys have to start feeding before pulling out their hives, there is no food for them. Which is also why they remove them as soon as possible - off to better foraging areas for honey production.

You'll also have a very high density of commercial beekeepers in the area to contend with. This will likely mean a lot of mites and possible diseased being spread to your hive. So definitely have a plan.

Do you have any other forage around, other than almonds? Or are you in the heart of the orchards?
 

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The opening post asks a question that cannot be answered without defining conditions. The bees dont get sustenance from "acres"!

A lot of the land within miles of me is either rocks and trees or swampy land. There are some farms that have not operated for 20 years but are mostly grown up with rank canary reed grass. There is quite a bit of goldenrod but in our short season it seldom yields appreciable honey. Roadside ditches and a high voltage hydro right of way a mile and a half away are the main sources of summer forage.

Without extensive fall feeding I would not be able to expect much more than a medium super of honey. It is a very flavorful wildflower honey but the bees have to work awfully hard for it.

Certainly no comparison to the 6000 acres that Ian Steppler (The Canadian Beekeeper)and his family farms in Manitoba.
 

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To add to the others in this thread I'd like to run a little math with you.
If the workers are flying up to that three mile distance then that would be 1,920 acres
so I thought the area of a circle is Pi R squared.
3 squared is 9 Pi is 3.14159 call it 3 for slide rule math so 9 times 3 is 27 square miles, at 640 per square mile.
Are we not looking at 17,280 acres?
1920 is alike 3 square miles....

:)
I guess michigan math is a bit different.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello and welcome!

To add to the others in this thread I'd like to run a little math with you.

It's said that bees will forage in an estimated 3 mile radius from their hive. They may go further in desert terrain or if food is scares, but for the sake of argument we'll stick to the 3 mile rule.
If the workers are flying up to that three mile distance then that would be 1,920 acres. So while 100 acres sounds like a lot, it may not be nearly enough.

But, there is also density to consider. If you have that many almond trees then they will have PLENTY of food while in bloom. But, as Radar Sidetrack pointed out, as soon as those blooms die off then there is nearly ZERO food for your hives. This is why all the commercial guys have to start feeding before pulling out their hives, there is no food for them. Which is also why they remove them as soon as possible - off to better foraging areas for honey production.

You'll also have a very high density of commercial beekeepers in the area to contend with. This will likely mean a lot of mites and possible diseased being spread to your hive. So definitely have a plan.

Do you have any other forage around, other than almonds? Or are you in the heart of the orchards?
Appreciate the info, we have more than 100 acres but only 100 planted in almonds. We live in the valley so there's a mix of orchards, alfalfa, other hay crop and row crops. We have a bit of furoughs and other habitat planted around and in between fields just trying to get a sense of how many acres to till up and dedicate to the bees themselves. I have been researching what additional foraging plants for the bees to plant , there just really isn't a figure on how much is too little. I do understand that I can't control where they end up, but its worth the while to have plants staggering blooms from March to Winter to help supplement them. Already formulating a plan for the mites and disease which is a scary prospect. Thanks for the reply ! Appreciate it
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
It is a matter of avaliable forage throughout the season and forage density. Some areas in almond country may have difficulty sustaining only a few colonys when areas around alm9nd groves are too clean
So planting foraging materials that range in bloom times correct? We have extra acreage and hedgerows but thinking of planting a mix of plants and trying to gage how many acres to dedicate. Thanks for the reply
 

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The opening post asks a question that cannot be answered without defining conditions. The bees dont get sustenance from "acres"!

A lot of the land within miles of me is either rocks and trees or swampy land. There are some farms that have not operated for 20 years but are mostly grown up with rank canary reed grass. There is quite a bit of goldenrod but in our short season it seldom yields appreciable honey. Roadside ditches and a high voltage hydro right of way a mile and a half away are the main sources of summer forage.

Without extensive fall feeding I would not be able to expect much more than a medium super of honey. It is a very flavorful wildflower honey but the bees have to work awfully hard for it.

Certainly no comparison to the 6000 acres that Ian Steppler (The Canadian Beekeeper)and his family farms in Manitoba.
Hmm certainly gives me pause for thought, I'll give a little more insight. We live in the Sacramento Valley Ag basin so lots of Ag land, surrounded by various orchards, row crops, hay crops etc. We have planted various hedgrows already along with 100 acres of Almonds, just trying to calculate how many acres I could actually "plant" in various foraging materials with a rotating bloom cycle to feed bees from after our almond bloom (Feb-March) till Winter , which in Ca can be variating lol but say Oct/ Nov. Thanks -B
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It is a matter of avaliable forage throughout the season and forage density. Some areas in almond country may have difficulty sustaining only a few colonys when areas around alm9nd groves are too clean
Very true ! Most farms are "clean" There are various types of farms around us , Hay crops mostly Alfalfa and Pasture mixes, row crops, Almonds, Olives , Pistachios etc I am hoping to plant some of our acreage dedicated directly to the bees. Utilizing a mix of foraging materials that have a rotating bloom cycle for the months of April - Oct/ Nov- Thanks for the reply
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Welcome to Beesource!

One serious challenge to farming your own bees in almond growing areas in California is that in the early part of the year (before actual pollination) is that there are likely to be lots of 'migratory' bees. Those bees will be very happy to harvest whatever forage that you have planted for your bees. If you have 100 acres, your apiary location is easily within foraging distance of bees that are parked on neighboring properties. I predict that regardless of what you want to do, you will be forced to provide sugar/HFCS feed to your bees.

Your first priority should be to make sure that you understand what it takes, and implement, effective varroa control.
Working on the mite treatments as we speak. Just thinking ahead to planting schedules for the future. Hoping to add acreage of various foraging materials with a bloom variation for April-Oct/Nov and trying to determine the acres we want to set aside to plant for that purpose in addition to the 100 acres of almonds. There are no direct orchards near us the closest neighbors have 1000 acres of pasture mix for their cattle and the other has an olive orchard , across the way are row crops and Alfalfa fields. Thanks for the insight on "migratory" bees , will give that some thought!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The opening post asks a question that cannot be answered without defining conditions. The bees dont get sustenance from "acres"!

A lot of the land within miles of me is either rocks and trees or swampy land. There are some farms that have not operated for 20 years but are mostly grown up with rank canary reed grass. There is quite a bit of goldenrod but in our short season it seldom yields appreciable honey. Roadside ditches and a high voltage hydro right of way a mile and a half away are the main sources of summer forage.

Without extensive fall feeding I would not be able to expect much more than a medium super of honey. It is a very flavorful wildflower honey but the bees have to work awfully hard for it.

Certainly no comparison to the 6000 acres that Ian Steppler (The Canadian Beekeeper)and his family farms in Manitoba.
I'm asking in acres because I live in the Sac Valley, its predominately farm land. I want to set aside some acreage to plant in various foraging materials to supplement the 100 acres of almonds and hedgerows in place. Thanks for the info.
 

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Appreciate the info, we have more than 100 acres but only 100 planted in almonds. We live in the valley so there's a mix of orchards, alfalfa, other hay crop and row crops. We have a bit of furoughs and other habitat planted around and in between fields just trying to get a sense of how many acres to till up and dedicate to the bees themselves. I have been researching what additional foraging plants for the bees to plant , there just really isn't a figure on how much is too little. I do understand that I can't control where they end up, but its worth the while to have plants staggering blooms from March to Winter to help supplement them. Already formulating a plan for the mites and disease which is a scary prospect. Thanks for the reply ! Appreciate it
Hi Bees4Godoys

My plant bible is Garden Plants for Honey Bees by Peter Lindtner. It has a breakdown of plant Pollen and Nectar benefits, specific to different size areas. I have planted everything that summed up to a 6 score (except invasives).

Vertical flowers often provide the most food, but trees can take 10 years to bloom, sometimes. My Japanese Pagoda (saphora japonica) from Rockbridge Nursery is just now flowering after 8 years. This nursery has an all-inclusive “Trees for Bees” section and they can be ordered online.

One of my absolute favorite annual crops for pollinators, but especially for the honey bee, is partridge pea (chamaecrista fasciculata). It flowers in August and September, when little else is. It reseeds freely but doesn’t crowd-out earlier flowering perennials. We have many acres of it. The seed pods dehisce (burst open) loudly after drying, and that’s an experience to behold.

Another good hedgerow plant, that provides very early food in February and March, is Fragrant Winter Honeysuckle (lonicera fragrantissima). It’s a large, shrub-form honeysuckle, but not invasive. It smells divine from 30’ away and the honey bees love it. It is semi-evergreen in zone 7B.

Throwing down clover seed is also a great practice. We have a field of crimson clover, and I also frost-seed Durana white clover in bare spots.

We sowed Austrian Winter Peas, Daikon Radish and Turnip on October 23rd this year. I’m eagerly awaiting their flowers and visit them daily to observe their progress, when I’m not working away from home. They have all germinated, even with as little rain as we’ve had. A beekeeper at the Tn conference in Cookeville, 6 years ago, said that her bees love turnip flowers. It has only taken me this long to try it 🙄

I’m in Tn so these may not work for you. Providing supplemental plant sources is so incredibly rewarding for a beekeeper and sustains many other species.
 

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Mustard for late winter through mid spring, but you have fruit and berry bloom then so probably don't want it at all as it'll distract the bees from the fruits and berries. But after that, I like dutch clover blooms June into September. Yellow clover will bloom before the white clover for late spring bloom. Sunflowers for the fall. Any of the brassica vegetable plants if let go to bloom will be good in the fall as well after sunflowers.
 

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A very narrow comment on alfalfa specifically - don't count on this one much.
Almost just cross it off your list.

You should find out that the priorities of the alfalfa grower do not overlap with yours.
They want to cut just prior to the alfalfa blooming - for the best possible nutrition.

PS: UNLES they grow alfalfa for seeds - this is easy to verify (and even collaborate IF they grow seeds; but I doubt they do)
 

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Sweet Veronica Sunny Border Blue is a GREAT summer and fall perennial plant for bees. Bees frenzy on it all summer and fall, it's a great one.

'Sunny Border Blue' is a tall hybrid speedwell that features dense, upright, terminal spikes (racemes) of dark violet-blue flowers which bloom from late May to frost. Flower spikes typically rise 18-24" tall. Wrinkled, dark green leaves (to 2" long). Good fresh cut flower. 1993 Perennial Plant of the Year.

 

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Sweet Veronica Sunny Border Blue is a GREAT summer and fall perennial plant for bees. Bees frenzy on it all summer and fall, it's a great one.

'Sunny Border Blue' is a tall hybrid speedwell that features dense, upright, terminal spikes (racemes) of dark violet-blue flowers which bloom from late May to frost. Flower spikes typically rise 18-24" tall. Wrinkled, dark green leaves (to 2" long). Good fresh cut flower. 1993 Perennial Plant of the Year.

Thank you this is helpful !
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Hi Bees4Godoys

My plant bible is Garden Plants for Honey Bees by Peter Lindtner. It has a breakdown of plant Pollen and Nectar benefits, specific to different size areas. I have planted everything that summed up to a 6 score (except invasives).

Vertical flowers often provide the most food, but trees can take 10 years to bloom, sometimes. My Japanese Pagoda (saphora japonica) from Rockbridge Nursery is just now flowering after 8 years. This nursery has an all-inclusive “Trees for Bees” section and they can be ordered online.

One of my absolute favorite annual crops for pollinators, but especially for the honey bee, is partridge pea (chamaecrista fasciculata). It flowers in August and September, when little else is. It reseeds freely but doesn’t crowd-out earlier flowering perennials. We have many acres of it. The seed pods dehisce (burst open) loudly after drying, and that’s an experience to behold.

Another good hedgerow plant, that provides very early food in February and March, is Fragrant Winter Honeysuckle (lonicera fragrantissima). It’s a large, shrub-form honeysuckle, but not invasive. It smells divine from 30’ away and the honey bees love it. It is semi-evergreen in zone 7B.

Throwing down clover seed is also a great practice. We have a field of crimson clover, and I also frost-seed Durana white clover in bare spots.

We sowed Austrian Winter Peas, Daikon Radish and Turnip on October 23rd this year. I’m eagerly awaiting their flowers and visit them daily to observe their progress, when I’m not working away from home. They have all germinated, even with as little rain as we’ve had. A beekeeper at the Tn conference in Cookeville, 6 years ago, said that her bees love turnip flowers. It has only taken me this long to try it 🙄

I’m in Tn so these may not work for you. Providing supplemental plant sources is so incredibly rewarding for a beekeeper and sustains many other species.
This is really helpful thank you I will look into the book , appreciate the feedback.
 
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