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Discussion Starter #1
I have read in several books that it takes a few years to test the capacity of a beeyard, but have been unable to find a description of that process. Could someone please describe to me how it is done?
 

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perhaps a reference to what you read and where you read it would be of some assistance.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I can't recall specifically where I came across the passages I refered to above.

What I am asking is how you determine how many hives a specific site can support with out decreasing average annual per hive honey production. I am aware that the number will vary widely from one location to the next, so how do you test a location while keeping in mind all of the other variables that might affect your crop?
 

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there is no "test" only an educated guess at best. most of us i believe use trial and error. one thing to be aware of as an area produces diminishing returns due to overforageing, the bees get testier and more defensive. that said most locations with a decent variety of forage will support 10 hives. hope this was helpfull.
 

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The standard for a commercial bee yard in California is 120. My sets would be 60. and never less than 30. My largest set ever was 200 and the average yield was 230lb per hive over a 12 week flow. I have seen yards of 600 that produced good yields.
 

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12-20 here, and that's on swamps. Nothing like orange groves or alfalfa where 5 or 10 to the acre is normal. Less hives usually means more honey per hive though...
 

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3 years to get to maximum production is what I was told by Buck Howery in Wi. Many here will know him. He was my mentor in growing my operation. The bees know what kind of nectar and pollen they want and with them visiting and pollinating what they want those plants will increase seed set and thus more of those plants. There is some exceptions to that depending on the ag in the area.

He said to start with 28 then in three years you can go up or down from there. The min to make it worth it for their operation is 32.

good luck
 

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Once upon a time my family ran 1500 hive and the avg. hive number was 20. Do the math that is 75 beeyards, a lot of driving. To try and cover an area we would set up a yard every 3 miles.
I now run 800-850 hives in 40 beeyards and produce an avg of 55 ton a year. I only keep the beeyard that produce me a 125 lb avg. The yards that produce more then 125 lb avg. a year I add 5 more hives the next year. It's easy to get yards, but to get good ones is how you make a living.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Is there an unwritten etiquette that should be followed when selecting a location to avoid interfering with any nearby beekeepers outyards?
 

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Sorry I do not mean to hijack this thread, but would like to ask householder what he looks for (besides the obvious "rolling hills of flowers") when scouting out a yard. Are you in farm country? Or do you move some of hives to a location and just try it out? :scratch:


I only keep the beeyard that produce me a 125 lb avg. The yards that produce more then 125 lb avg. a year I add 5 more hives the next year. It's easy to get yards, but to get good ones is how you make a living.
 

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Sorry I do not mean to hijack this thread, but would like to ask householder what he looks for (besides the obvious "rolling hills of flowers") when scouting out a yard. Are you in farm country? Or do you move some of hives to a location and just try it out? :scratch:
Honeyhouseholder is pretty close to right on. In new yards I start with 16 to 24 and add up slowly to 48 max per location but most of my yards are 24 to 32 per. I look for yards that have access to both cultivated (in our case here it's mainly Alfalfa) and wild flowers. So ranches next to open land seem to do the best. The flow doesn't stop when they cut the alfalfa in those cases. Always have a good water source which isn't a problem here (lots of streams, rivers and water ditches)
 

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that is one thing that burns me up. I have a great yard that always does 150-200lbs per hive in all 24 hives and I just got a call from another beekeeper saying he is putting 32 hives over the hill from me. I let him know they could have issues there. I think he changed his mind.......
 

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When looking for beeyard around my area. I look for the hay fields that the hay mill plant are cutting. They go after tonage, so the hay field may sit in bloom for weeks before they cut them. Our main flows are the basswood and the soybean which they don't cut. If we hit both the basswood and soybean for the full flows we do a 300+ avg. The alfalfa is a good build up flow. They might get 3-4 cutting in my area on the alfalfa.
My yards avg. from 18-32 hives. If the yards don't prduce the 125 lb avg. I don't have any problem passing those yards onto other beekeeper.:D You know you have the right place and bees when you get 17 supers from a hive. Those are the yard you just keep adding hives to, and you make your queens from those hives.
 

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and you make your queens from those hives.

Is that how you 'used' to do it, back when you overwintered hives? What changes have you made in selecting queens since you went to packages every year? Or do you keep a few pet hives overwinter that you use to make good queens with in the spring?
 

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No test really

You should be familiar with the area and the times during the season when a particular source of nectar becomes available for surplus honey. In our area, most areas could support 40 - 60 colonies with a 75- 125lb average per year per colony. Up to 200 hives and they might do well for them selves and anymore then that, the yard is more of a holding yard where nutrition has to be supplied via the beekeeper. Those hives would be used more for pollination or bee production.
One beek I used to work for (he's part of the forum here and might respond to this) had a yard of over 800 hives. I measured his yard on google earth and it was 700 feet long. We fed and fed and fed that yard with patties and syrup. he had quite a few splitters by the time we reached the end of march (good for our area). it was certianly a strain on the available natural resources but they were moved to pollination sites where the strain was eliminated.
 

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that is one thing that burns me up. I have a great yard that always does 150-200lbs per hive in all 24 hives and I just got a call from another beekeeper saying he is putting 32 hives over the hill from me. I let him know they could have issues there. I think he changed his mind.......
I don't know if it's the same *rules/laws where you are, but here, we have to maintain at least a 2mile distance from other yards (our own or others) to prevent the spread of disease. In my opinion, that also helps keep the nectar source available (depending on how many hives you keep in a yard).

*(I'm not sure if it's an enforceable law, or just a common "rule".)
 

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wow, didn't know there were laws on it. but makes since. hopefully i'll do good with mine, i don't know of any beeks within the county where i'm at.
 

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Will makes most of the decisions in our operation, my role is mostly support, and to listen and encourage him to continue on particular decisions we've agreed on. (I'm also a kickass frame assembler. And you should see my mad tail-gate skillz! Be jealous!) :D

As far as picking a bee yard, again, Will has most of the say because of his experience.

Things that I am usually concerned with are, how agreeable the landowners will be with the strange hours that beekeepers have to keep during pollination time. A diesel engine might annoy the sleepers. Also, condition of the ground. Is it going to be a pain to get in and out? (More than once we've gotten stuck. Not a fun situation. Especially if you have a load of bees.)
 
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