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I've been asked by an orchard to keep my bees there for pollination. I'm inclined to do it as there is serious forage for bees. In fact, it is 1.5 miles from my house, so the bees probably work this land anyway.

The orchard sprays different things from April to July. They've said that they will give me 24 hours notice when then spray, and will spray the block' that is upwind from the apiary in the early morning or late evening, which ever works best for the bees.

How can I make this situation work? I have a friend who keep his bees on the far side of the 170 acres and he kicks my butt in honey production every year with similar bees and skills. Averages about 100 lbs a year from each hive, even last year which was BAD here in Massachusetts.

Thoughts? I'm planning to keep 25-30 hives here and need some advice from a beek who has actually done this.

Thanks in advance!
 

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First of all the best way to make enemies with a beekeeper friend is to place 30 hives on the other side of 170 acres he has bees. Neither one of you will make that nice crop he has been making in the past. Second of all if they will be spraying a substance harmfull to your bees while they are there I would not place them there. If they are paying you for pollination then you should just move them as soon as the bloom is over and avoid the sprays. If they are not paying you then I wouldn't be placing them there.
 

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Thanks for the reply. My friend and I have talked about the placement of hives and he's ok with it, so we're good there. We do a lot of beekeeping together. Do you really think that 170 acres will not support 35 hives? Its loaded with all the highest yielding nectar plants we all love here.

As far as spraying goes, I am quite concerned about this, but confused as to how its been a non-issue for my buddies, but might be for me.

Again...thanks for the reply. Looking for more detail.
 

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> Do you really think that 170 acres will not support 35 hives?

If your buddy only has 5 and it would be 35 total it probally wouldn't be an issue if there is enough forage. His next crop will let you know if you 2 have to many bees in the area.

>As far as spraying goes, I am quite concerned about this, but confused as to how its been a non-issue for my buddies, but might be for me.

Maybe they are using sprays after the bloom is over so the bees are not being affected by it because they aren't working the bloomless plants/trees and there is no floral sources on the ground in orchard attracting the bees. Possibly they use something nonlethal to bees. Your buddies bees aren't in the orchard getting direct contact of the spray. If this is an apple orchard I would not leave them in the orchard after bloom unless they use nonlethal sprays.
 

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How can I make this situation work?
Thoughts? I'm planning to keep 25-30 hives here and need some advice from a beek who has actually done this.

Thanks in advance!
I kept hives in an orchard in Brimfield Mass for 15 years, no problem. 30 hives is too many, you don't have the nectar flow's to support the hive in my opinion.
as to keeping them in an orchard, what does he spray for petal fall, if its gruethion don't put the hive in the orchard. what does he consider petal fall, when x % of the petals are off? if you can get him to spray imidan(once sprayed the bees do not like the smell and don't go into the orchard), and get him to spray it after dark and b/4 the sun comes up, and keep the orchard mowed b/4 spraying then I would try it. I locked mine in the first couple of years then didn't bother any more. the owner probably wants 30 hives as that is what he has been renting, same with my grower, he was perfectly happy with 15 hives as they were stronger than rental hives. I also raised my queens in this apiary with no problem.
 

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Why does the orchard want you to put your bees in the orchard and keep them there? Is it so they can point them out when customers come to buy apples and honey?

Having 35 hives on the other side of a 175 acre orchard will not halve your friends honey crop. You'll both get honey or you both won't get honey. Your bees won't displace his from the flowers that they both forage.

As per pesticides, I'd get them in when the orchard wants them and remove them when they don't.

As much as anything, it is probably the direct spraying of the hives that effects them. I have a smallish apiary on the edge of a small orchard and they do well, despite normal orchard management. And there are plenty of beekeepers who keep bees in squash and pumpkin patches all through the growing season and they do alright too.

If your friend is close to the orchard and he doesn't see any effects than I'd say you are safe. Maybe he is on the leeward side?
 

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How does your beekeeping friend keep his bees out of the orchard when they're spraying?
 

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If your friend has had bees there with no problem then I guess that there must not be a problem. Have you asked what they are spraying? Or are you just assuming that everything that comes out the sprayer is toxic to bees. I'm always amazed how people think that everything that comes out of a sprayer is going to poison bees. You need to find out what they are applying and then make your decision, but from what your telling us, sounds like their doing a good job of keeping their pollinators if there's that much forage there. The honey crop your friend is getting should speak volumes and attest to that. Good luck,

Camp
 

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Used to keep apiaries in several MA orchards for free until I wised up. As tempting as all those spring apple blossoms and the accompanying dandelions may be, the ensuing days and months when spraying occurs hurts the bee population much more than what that initial boost is worth. When you say you want to place 25 -30 hives there, I think of what a golden opportunity you have to rent those hives several times and still make some honey. Let the other beek win the contest as far as the amount of honey that is made. You'll make out much better money wise. OMTCW
 

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Well folks, this is a lot of great fodder to sort through. Thank you.

It is true that the orchard wants the hives there to offset the $1700 that they pay now to truck in 26 hives for the first two weeks of May. Clearly, they have an incentive for me to have hives there, and I'm OK with that. I approached them, so I don't feel taken advantage of.

My present location is on the south side of a 700 acre knoll with NO TREES, so the wind is really a phenomenon here. Honestly, I have heard that in some winters the snow drifts have actually reached the 2nd story of my house and the town has excavated the residents here. That's the sort of wind we're talking about. The 600 acres of field is actually a golf course, so no forage there to make dealing with the wind a good thing. The location is simply not a very good one. We are surrounded by a few thousand acres of trees in most directions, so the forage there is not really awesome either.

The farm is 1.5 miles from my house, so presumably the bees forage there right now, but burn up much of that on the flights to and from. The farm is also closer to actual neighborhoods which would mean flowers and wildflower borders along streets, in addition to the wildflowers in and around the orchard.

I approached the farm while trying to find a very close out-yard for my bees.

Now, here are the active ingredients in the spraying used. I am not assuming that any or all of this is harmful. I claim complete ignorance, which is the reason I'm reaching out.

Mancozeb, pyrimethnil, petroleum oil, lambda-cyhalothrin, phosphatidylcholine methylocetic acid, diefnoconazole, ammonium sulfate, prohexadione calcium, carbaryl, phosmet, captan, thipphanate-methyl, etoxazole, glyphossate, Cabaryl (7) , Imidan (harmful to bees according to the farm director) as well as Esteem, Intrepid and Assail.

The farm director writes:

"I have documented wind direction and it is very rare that the drift goes toward that area. We document the wind direction and 70 percent of the time the wind is blowing in a northeasterly direction and not toward the northwest.

As for foraging bees - we try to keep the orchard mowed so the bees would only be in the Orchard during apple blossom season."

I don't mind keeping my bees there for free because my home land is just TOO windy....its so windy hear that its a constant topic of conversation when people visit, all year long. The bees need a new home, and I want to expand, and start a self-sufficient bee program identical to the Palmer/Webster program outlined below:

The production colonies yield the nucleus colonies.
The mating nucs produce the queens that go in the nucleus colonies.
The survivor nucleus colonies re-stock the dead and weak production colonies.
The survivor production colonies yield the breeder queens for the next year's queens.

If this is not a good place for my bees, then I'm open to ideas.
 

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We are surrounded by a few thousand acres of trees in most directions, so the forage there is not really awesome either.

What is wrong with trees? What kind of trees are they? Tree pollens tend to be very good, and many trees are good nectar producers.
 

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Well folks, this is a lot of great fodder to sort through. Thank you.

Now, here are the active ingredients in the spraying used. I am not assuming that any or all of this is harmful. I claim complete ignorance, which is the reason I'm reaching out.

Mancozeb, pyrimethnil, petroleum oil, lambda-cyhalothrin, phosphatidylcholine methylocetic acid, diefnoconazole, ammonium sulfate, prohexadione calcium, carbaryl, phosmet, captan, thipphanate-methyl, etoxazole, glyphossate, Cabaryl (7) , Imidan (harmful to bees according to the farm director) as well as Esteem, Intrepid and Assail.
I changed my mind, I wouldn't put bees here, assail is a neonic see below:

Basic Identification Information About This Chemical
Chemical Name: Acetamiprid <---ingedient in assail
CAS Number: 135410-20-7
U.S. EPA PC Code: 099050
CA DPR Chem Code: 5762
Molecular Weight: 222.67
Use Type: Insecticide
Chem Class: Neonicotinoid <-----
View Related Chemicals

with all the contreversy about these I wouldn't even move my hives in for a fee.
 

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what type forest you talkin about. is it pine plantation.
aint to sure bout the kinds of trees up yonder but would look
up the trees in that forest an you probably gonna be surprised at the potential they holds.
as far as that orchard. is that farmer the only equipment operater.
kinda dout it. he lookin at rainy weather an tryin to squeeze in his ipm
sprayin an your bees gonna get the short end on the stick.
i no cause im faced with it on ocassions myself.
thousands of dollers vs hundreds of dollers an it aint his hundreds of dollers
its his thousands of dollers.

i think id be lookin who own that forest an tryin to kick dirt with them.
 

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What if you put the bees there for the pollination of the apples, then moved them to a higher elevation (Vermont) for the same type of pollination, then even a higher elevation (still apples), then moved them for the pollination of blueberries, then moved them for the pollination of cranberries, then back to the original apple orchard for fall, winter and early spring? This is doable and if done right, your bees might be safer and you wealthier pollinating other areas than leaving them in that original orchard during the interim. OMTCW
 

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I am from a multi generation apple grower and beekeeper family.

Search for my previous posts if interested concerning apples and bees.

There is nothing special in apple blossoms. Very little nectar and they usually bloom when the dandelions are blooming so its not like apple bloom provides any special source of food. Outside of the surrounding area around the orchard there is no incentive to be near the orchard since as you have discovered there is the potential for mostly sublethal exposures to chemicals.

Windy locations usually result in decreased honey production.
 
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