I am in Germany, They do not believe in paying beekeepers for pollination services. Thier take on it is that there are enough bees to go around.
So to answer your question I just ask farmers or friends with a lot of land if I can place some hives on the property. So far I have unlimited use of the mountain I live on, 10 hectars 40 km away, a 5 hectar plot 10 km away and a orchard about a 45 min drive away. I have more out yards than hives. My goal is 1000 hives in 10 years( when I retire).
IMHO: If it were me I'd drive around and when you find a place that you feel may benifit from bees talk to the landowner. They only can say no. Or pace some adds in the newspaper and/or in farm supply stores, feed stores.
I think there was an article in a bee mag on this. They suggested going with my family, looks like I am trying to eek out a living. Honey samples can help.
I knock on a lot of doors around spots that I think would be good. I ask folks at work. Place an ad in a free publication. Pollinate and suggest they give you a permanent place to keep hives out of the way. Talk to older beekeepers about good locations, they might even know the owners.
Finding LANDOWNERS is not hard to do. If honey production is your thing, then tailor your search to "gentleman farms", and those who are not applying pesticides for crops. Shaking a hand, introducing yourself with a smile, and telling your story will open opportunities.
Finding ORCHARDS and COMMERCIAL operations is not hard either. But I would never pollinate a commercial operation without charging a fee. First, it denegrates the beekeeping industry as a whole. Your services are worth something. Many others charge rates of 25 to 75 dollars. Are you not worth that? In commercial operations you open yourself up to pesticide spraying as well as other problems. I believe in helping the industry as a whole and whether its honey promotions on local levels, charging for pollination, or providing support for communities to understand why laws should not prohibit beekeeping, its all our responsibility.
I ask that for honey production, do not take away income and opportunities from those wishing to charge for this very important service. You will find many more suitable apiaries on land that gives better honey yields and less problems by staying away from commercial operators.
I really do not understand the beekeeper with say ten hives, that does not charge for pollination. A hive is a hive whether you have ten or a thousand. And a service is a service. The pollination from a hive is the same regardless. Many of my farms are small family farms in the 50 to 100 acre range and they all pay.
There are just too many better places for honey production. And believe me when I say, most farms are not that good for honey sites. If it were not for the pollination fee, I would not have my hives there.
I have most of my hives on small organic farms. The deal is they provide a permanent place for up to ten hives and promise to never spray pesticide (easy for them since they're organic). I found the contact info for organic farms in the CFSA (carolina farm stewardship association). Maybe a similar "organic farm" assoc. is in Michigan.
I dont charge for any of my hives as long as the let me leave them year round. At the start of the flow I always give out honey that was left from last year. As a "gift". The only problems i have is the girls will get in the sweet feed and in the corn for the cow's. Just a little soy on the top bars and they will quit for 3 or 4 weeks. But when the flow starts the farmers never call with problems.
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