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Discussion Starter #1
I have been contacted for pollinating a two acre chestnut grove.

I have heard that chestnut pollen is harmful to honeybees, any truth to that?

Does chestnut make any nectar?

And, how many hives per acre would be recommended?
 

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BB,
It puts off nectar, but not in a good quantity.

I have never read about pollen being bad, but is it good quality? I don't know. I would make sure that the time before chestnut pollination, and afterwards, are periods of good pollen quality to make up any nutritional deficiencies.

I would think that it is "high density" pollination. That something along the lines of 4 or 5 (or more???) per acre minimum would be needed. But I am not sure. Does he have a number he normally gets, or is this the first time for the farmer getting bees?

I do some smaller farms. Some want a couple hives. I tell them I don't do less than a pallet at a time per placement spot. So use something like that to your advantage. Tell them he will need a minimun of two pallets (8 hives). One on one side of the two acres and one on the other side. Get at least an 8 hive rental out of this.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
This grower has been planting chestnuts and pecans since 1997. His groves are young and last year is the first year that he had a good bloom. His good bloom did not get set, he opened the small hulls to find them mostly empty or small and shriveled up.

He seems to be quite knowledgeable about his nut trees and is part of a small but growing group of nut growers in the state.

The bloom time is around Memorial Day so hives will be in good shape with natural foraging.

I don't want to oversell him but I do want to make sure that we put out enough bees to get good results, I just don't know what that number is.
 

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Bjorn:

I agree with trying to bring a minimum amount of hives to a grower, but why would you recommend 4 on a side and 4 on another? Bees do haves wings and Bullseye Bill is probably a busy guy not looking for unnecessary work.

Jean-Marc
 

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jean-marc,

I know how to sell myself, I know how to sell my product, and I know how sell a service. I know most of my farms I deal will ask about "coverage". Its something farmers of all types sometimes read about in old agriculture pamphlets and university studies that talk about placing a hive every so often, etc.

I know the farms I deal with know I look out for them. I think they like the idea when I talk about coverage and perhaps making the extra effort to seperate the hives for maximum coverage. Yeah, I guess I could tell them bees have wings and there is no need for more than one central spot, but that also goes against some of the things they have already been accustomed too or read.

Do I really think that two seperate pallets on either side of two acres is that much work? No. I think that a non-issue.

I have many farms that are 50 to 200 acres. I may rent 25 or 30 hives. I'll place 10 here, 8 over there, and maybe 5 over there, type thing. The farmers are happy, they get the sense that I go out of my way in doing whats best for them, and in realty....I bet the coverage is better than one central location. I may not place a hive every 100 feet or yards, or whatever the old studies suggest, but I will make an effort within reason to guarantee coverage.


I do try to place my bees out of the orchards and work the perimeter. Access is easier, and I have less problems.

So what are we talking about with two pallets seperated by a couple hundred yards? You call it unnecassary work, but I see value from a pollination viewpoint, and added value by the perception I give the farmers.

BTW, I don't move my hives. 90% stay placed. I like that arrangement. If you find the right farms that will work with you on spraying, or don't spray at all, then arranging hives such as I mentioned is worth consideration. I don't just truck in a load, dump them in one spot, and then pick up again later. My business model is a little different. Maybe that makes my viewpoint different then others.

[ February 27, 2007, 05:57 AM: Message edited by: BjornBee ]
 

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No idea about the pollen.

I've had Chestnut (Kastanien) honey in Germany where it apparently is desired for its uniqueness - so at least a few varieties of Chestnut must produce a nectar flow even if others dont.

It's supposed to be good for cooking with ham, but straight out of the jar it didn't taste particularly good to me. Heavy, dark, kind of overpowering. I'd bet you'd find there's a niche market for it if you can produce it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
>No idea about the pollen.

I think they were pulling my leg. :rolleyes:

The grower said he heard the honey was not that good. I don't expect to make much off a young grove, just want to provide a good service.

An old farmer that had me remove a hive from under his chicken coop told me of a time when he had a keeper bring hives to pollinate his clover field.

He was growing clover for seed and wanted a good set. He contacted a beekeeper and had him bring sixty hives to his field. I don't know if there was a fee or not. The hives were set in a row along one side of the field.

The farmer would take twenty gallons of water to the bees everyday as there was not a good source of water for over a mile. He even made a trough for the bees so they would not drown.

When it came to combining the clover, he commented that when he cut along the side the bees were on the seed would 'flow like cutting oats'. In other words, the seed set was about six times better near the hives than on the other side of the field.

So, I would say that it is important to spot the bees around a field especially when the fields are large. Smaller fields are probably not as critical.
 

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I agree with Bjorn, you are selling a service and the more accomodating you are to your customer, the more value he will place on your service. Locating hive on both sides of his orchard will at least "look" like he will have better coverage of his trees.

I've got a dozen chestnut trees that are now about 15 years old (they've been producing for 7 or 8 years now) and my bees rarely bother with them. When in bloom, they are usually covered with bumblebees.
 

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My honeybees do work chestnut bloom to some extent and they do get a little nectar but not enough to store much. I have never paid enough attention to where the nectar comes from but suspect it is extrafloral in nature. Meaning it does not come from the flowers. I would put a minimum of 6 colonies on 2 acres of chestnut. Do you have much competing bloom in the area? I ask because I remember your part of the country as mixed broken forest and wide open fields. If the competing bloom is low, the chestnuts will be worked heavily. The big problem is that chestnut is mostly wind pollinated. The female flowers are pretty much unattractive to bees. So the objective of putting bees in chestnuts is to get the pollen dusted off of the catkins so it can fall onto the stigmas. This is very different from the pollination of most other crops! It is also the reason why you want a large population of pollinators.

Here is a link to read:
http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/book/chap5/chestnut.html

A bigger concern might be pollen compatibility. Chestnut is very well known for having self compatibility issues. Please ask the grower if he has verified that his trees are pollen compatible. All the bees in the world can't help if the pollen itself is a problem.

One last thing. Buy yourself a full face perfume mask. Chestnuts in full bloom will put even the staunchest beekeeper in an absconding mood. :D

You might also pose this question to Sandra Anagnostakis at the Connecticut Ag Experiment station. http://www.caes.state.ct.us/Biographies/AnagSand.htm

Darrel Jones (who sometimes knows the right people)

p.s. for those interested in growing nut trees, check out these links:
http://www.nolinnursery.com/
http://www.icserv.com/nnga/index.html

[ February 27, 2007, 09:42 PM: Message edited by: Fusion_power ]
 
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