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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am beekeeper located in Virginia. I am wondering since there isn't any massive almond plantations in the state, what would a commercial beekeeper in this region does? I probably guess apple orchards, berry farms, etc. I am starting to form a business plan and was hoping someone could help give me a better idea on which direction to head and give me a better understanding of the market around here.

Thanks
 

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Not trying to be a smart alec but I would imagine they spend a lot to time migrating to areas where pollination is in demand. Maine, NC blueberries, etc.... I would also imagine there are cantaloupe, watermelon, squash farms in VA.
 

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Our nucs were built from almond bees, fresh back from California. I believe a lot of beekeepers took a deep breath and loaded their girls back up to pollinate the local apple crop. We've noticed a major loading/unloading yard a little west of Romney WV on Rt. 50. There must be similar sites all over the area.

We notice hives coming and going all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am figuring out that apply orchards is where the best options are at in this part of the region. Any idea what they charge for each hive?
 

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My stock broker team is down there in Richmond. One fellow has a farm that raises fruits and veggies. He has a beekeeper working his farm. Another member of the team keeps bees himself, tho' not commercially.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
How would I get involved in these groups in the Richmond area(Pretty much where I am at). I am not trying to go completely full time commercial beekeeper yet. Just trying to get the beekeeping hobby to pay for itself at this point.
 

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"I am starting to form a business and was hoping someone could help give me a better idea on which direction to head... ."
Raise queens and get a good education. As to when to go into large scale pollination, "A young man not yet, an elder man not at all." (With apologies to Francis Bacon.) Large scale pollination is important and deserves respect and appreciation. It appears to be more than a little tough, and should not be entered into lightly.
 

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First step? Learn how to keep the bees you have and how to get them to pay you to keep them. Pollination is attractively easy, but it's not easy at all.

At this point you may be seeing other beekeepers w/ envious eyes, seeing their trucks and machines and in your mind turning those things into dollars. Cha-ching. "Dang, there must be a lot of money in doing pollination, just look at the new truck and Loader." When, in fact, those things belong to the bank and the bank lends them to the beekeeper for a fee. And then the long hours, much of it at night. Days and nights away from home, family, girlfriend, dog. Though the dog may go w/ you, will the girl friend? Road food. Breakdowns w/ bees on board. Blow outs on the trailer when going across that bridge on the Richmond Bypass.

Pollination calls for 100 hives in April, you'd better have 150 to 200 going into Winter so you have in strong enough hives what the orchards want.

There's a lot more to doing pollination than meets the eye. I didn't mean to sugar coat it for you. It just came out that way.
 

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Don't forget those nice guys with the DOT!! When they see my new trucks they get excited. Better off with old junk cuz they know you can't pay the fines.
 

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Hush, Larry. Not yet. She has her dog. Seems like I aught to be able to have a girl friend.

What? This mike is on? Is this mike on? tap, tap

Du'oh!! :doh:
 

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Is it any wonder why over 50% of small business's fail in their 1st year?
Often it is because good people throw down money on business's that they know very little or nothing about.
Restaurants, book stores and many others are started or purchased by those with a romantic notion of a life in those fields only to later face the brutal truth that they are clueless in a tight marketplace.
My suggestion to the OP is to put the beekeeping business COMPLETELY out of your mind until you have worked from the inside out.
Offer to work for free when possible with a large local bee outfit.
Attend all state and local beekeepers association meetings and become integrated in the beekeeping community.
You should have the answers to the questions that you have asked well in hand before even considering beekeeping commercially.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy hard, hard work as much as I do. ;)
 

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Just trying to get the beekeeping hobby to pay for itself at this point.
Make honey or nucs. Pollination in Southeast VA is minimal at best. I've been listed on the VA dept of Ag for many years as a pollinator and have NEVER even gotten a call. Nearly everything down here is either cotton, soybeans, or corn. A few pumpkins, strawberries, and blueberries, but nothing to base your business on.

Learn to make and overwinter nucs. There's a huge market for bees.
 

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Make honey or nucs. Pollination in Southeast VA is minimal at best. I've been listed on the VA dept of Ag for many years as a pollinator and have NEVER even gotten a call. Nearly everything down here is either cotton, soybeans, or corn. A few pumpkins, strawberries, and blueberries, but nothing to base your business on.

Learn to make and overwinter nucs. There's a huge market for bees.
You decided to let someone else decide to give you a try? You have to be proactive if you want to pollinate, or do just about anything. Waiting for someone else to call will set you up for a long wait.
 

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You decided to let someone else decide to give you a try? You have to be proactive if you want to pollinate, or do just about anything. Waiting for someone else to call will set you up for a long wait.
Mark,

I know pretty much every beekeeper in the Tidewater area. There simply isn't much of a demand for commercial pollination, but that certainly doesn't mean you can't make money with bees in this region. Apples out west might be an opportunity, but you're not going to see CA prices. The effort put into pollination might better be focused on making nucs, which is a huge market.
 
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