Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If there is 25 125 acre Pivots of Alfalfa being cut at 15% flowering. in the middle of the Desert with virtually no other Flowering sources other than the mesquite when it blooms. how many Hives could be comfortably run off of these fields? is there a standard ratio of Hives per acre on alfalfa? before they don't have enough feed?

thanks
Dustin
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,171 Posts
It seems to me that Dee Lusby has about 20 to 40 hives in each of her apiaries in the middle of the Sonora desert. There are miles between them. They are always next to water tanks for cattle with board as floats for the bees. They are thriving. You may be underestimating the value of the desert and how many other sources there are. The alfalfa won't hurt...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It seems to me that Dee Lusby has about 20 to 40 hives in each of her apiaries in the middle of the Sonora desert. There are miles between them. They are always next to water tanks for cattle with board as floats for the bees. They are thriving. You may be underestimating the value of the desert and how many other sources there are. The alfalfa won't hurt...
You are Most likely correct. I am hoping for that, but want to be prepared. I have an opportunity to Winter some Hives there, instead of Storing them in a Warehouse. also all the fields are in the same area next to each other. probably in about a 6 Square mile area. the water source would be the Constant Watering of the fields from the pivots. the fields are cut and watered at varying stages... so there is always water and always alfalfa in bloom.

Dustin
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,719 Posts
If there is 25 125 acre Pivots of Alfalfa being cut at 15% flowering. in the middle of the Desert with virtually no other Flowering sources other than the mesquite when it blooms. how many Hives could be comfortably run off of these fields? is there a standard ratio of Hives per acre on alfalfa? before they don't have enough feed?

thanks
Dustin
Alfalfa is an unpredictable nectar source. My experience is it often yields the best when temps are high and the alfalfa is somewhat drought stressed. It's both caught me by surprise and disappointed me. I wouldn't get my hopes up to high with irrigated alfalfa. Seems like the water can go more for growth and less for nectar. The best answer is going to come from someone in your area who has tried it. I would inquire about spray, though. I have heard lots of sad alfalfa stories from out west.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
157 Posts
Around here first cutting gets hit by bug spray. Any of the second cutting that wasn;t hit during the first round generaly gets hit by bug spray. Over all the bees don't like to work it if anything else is available. If you have a feild in full bloom that has been drought stressed as Jim said above the bees can make a killer honey crop.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
I concur with Jim:

My experience is it often yields the best when temps are high and the alfalfa is somewhat drought stressed.

But a shot in the dark with alfalfa always beats corn and northern soybeans.

We put our bees near silos and windmills.

Crazy Roland
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,527 Posts
Around here you get 1 week of late bud/early flowering before the alfalfa is cut. It can bring in 4 -5 one week flows a year. I wouldn't count on it though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,095 Posts
Also on your radar should be your number two consideration: Your answer partially depends on how many hives the competition has sitting on the other side of the field or over the hill.

Thank God for Google earth and the ability to put a plane on its side to see whats out there...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
318 Posts
Alfalfa is an unpredictable nectar source. My experience is it often yields the best when temps are high and the alfalfa is somewhat drought stressed. It's both caught me by surprise and disappointed me. I wouldn't get my hopes up to high with irrigated alfalfa. Seems like the water can go more for growth and less for nectar. The best answer is going to come from someone in your area who has tried it. I would inquire about spray, though. I have heard lots of sad alfalfa stories from out west.
This interests me. We have miles of alfalfa that is just starting to bloom after the first and only cut. I have been praying for rain, as we haven't had any in a month but perhaps its for the best. Under dry conditions how could alfalfa produce more nectar? Seems counter-intuitive?
Luke
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
279 Posts
This interests me. We have miles of alfalfa that is just starting to bloom after the first and only cut. I have been praying for rain, as we haven't had any in a month but perhaps its for the best. Under dry conditions how could alfalfa produce more nectar? Seems counter-intuitive?
Luke
Sharpdog,
for what is worth, everything shut down here in the Okanagan by mid July, I have irrigated alfalfa near by, but water is expensive and they sure don't give it as much as the corn fields. My first year hives are averaging two weeks to build comb fill and cap a medium. It has to be alfalfa, other than corn and lawns nothing else is green let alone in bloom. We are on the left overs from the second cut and some fields have been cut a third time so they are short but in bloom.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,244 Posts
Under dry conditions how could alfalfa produce more nectar? Seems counter-intuitive?
Luke
I'm just guessing but, the sugar content of the nectar will be higher under drier conditions. Besides taking less nectar to make a pound of honey it could be that it is also much more attractive to the bees.

Tom
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,719 Posts
This interests me. We have miles of alfalfa that is just starting to bloom after the first and only cut. I have been praying for rain, as we haven't had any in a month but perhaps its for the best. Under dry conditions how could alfalfa produce more nectar? Seems counter-intuitive?
Luke
Yes it does seem odd but I have seen it time after time. Ian is quite right, alfalfa will root down as deep as 15'. Heres another oddity. Alfalfa honey produced at higher elevations is generally darker than alfalfa honey at lower elevations. Anything much over 5,000' will usually grade out in the ELA range (35mm and above). Our alfalfa at the 2,000' range is usually in the mid to upper 20 mm range.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
157 Posts
The elevation idea is interesting. I am at 4300 feet and my alfalfa honey comes out dark. I just thought the bees were mixing something else with it. This is good to know.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,594 Posts
Ian and Jim are right about the roots. The subsoil has an effect also. Some of our yards are on clay, the others on glacial till A.K.A. sand and gravel, which dries out fast. They react to rain and drought differently.

The "Bull of the Woods" would say that a dry spell after cutting alfalfa MIGHT cause the alfalfa to bloom before it was tall enough to cut. That was the situation with some of our yards in August of 2012.

Crazy Roland
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,330 Posts
Quite often older stands of alfalfa will be left to go to seed after the third cutting in a dry year. That's when you want have bees there. Owners often look for bees to help with pollination during this time too. A good seed crop can be lucrative for both bee owners & farmers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
114 Posts
farmers here are on the 5th cutting. been a great year for growing it here but not making honey off it. we have heavy soil so we need hot and dry to make honey. some bee yards in sandy soil like roland spoke of did good this year while most in heavy soil did not do as well. only two days in the 90s here all year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,120 Posts
We have bees on both irrigated and dry. Still have honey coming in from the irrigated fields while the dry fields couldnt come back from the drought. Not a bee on the flowers in the dry. Last year was opposite.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
Top