Bees per acre of forage - how many hives are too many?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Gypsi, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I stuck this in 101 because it is a 101 question. Had so much trouble keeping ANY bees alive in the drought it didn't occur to me that I could get too many.

    I want enough bees for honey, I guess sell the surplus. Wish I owned more land, will bees work alfalfa if I plant some?

    I have 5 hives, my neighbor across the street has 1. All look like making it through the winter. IMG-20130124-00984.jpg This is the second pollen feeder. First one was a quart yogurt jar hung out near the hives, and it was full of bees. So I dumped pollen sub on this plate on my front porch. Took 10 minutes for them to find it. I guess the queens are laying. There was a constant roar til the plate was empty.

    Gypsi
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Bees will work alfalfa! :thumbsup:
     

  3. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Alfalfa is one of those plants that appear to survive drought easily but the plant will stop providing nector if the gets dry. I have had fields in full bloom and the bees aren't touching it. Where it is irrigated it is cut just as it starts to bloom. It takes the plant 2 years to become established. but when all the conditions are right It will produce an encreatable flow.
     
  4. Slowmodem

    Slowmodem New Member

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    What kind of pollen do you use in your plate?
     
  5. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    mann lake pollen substitute. If they were willing to carry in sawdust, I figured it would be better.

    I've got my eye on the 2 lots behind me, but if it takes 2 years for alfalfa to become established, that's not going to do me any good this spring. I keep having to buy alfalfa bales for my goat, that's where the idea came from.
     
  6. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Interplant alpha seed with some other annual, cut to harvest the annual this year and the alpha will be ready to go next year. around here barly or buckweat.
     
  7. crazy8days

    crazy8days New Member

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    I like to know the answer to her header. Bees per acre; How many hives. I have 2 hives on a 2 acre plot. I know they fly out miles from that and what is around me is pretty good country. But, I'm planning to add 5 or more this spring. When does it become to many bees for that area.
     
  8. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    This question is about as broad as it is long. I have seen some posts that indicate as many as a hundred hives in an apiary to as few as six or eight. It depends on the amount and quality of the forage. In you Midwestern area, I would think you could have at least 10 to 12 bee colonies, and maybe a lot more.
     
  9. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I have 8 bee yards all in farm country, there's some crops around but mostly rough woodlands and pasture land. All have water close by, rivers, creeks,and ponds, i would have no problem putting 20 or more hives on any of them, The problem is 5 of them are 60 miles from home and i'm alot slower working them than i use to be:roll:, 35 to 40 hives is a workout for me driving to one yard to another and pulling a trailer with equipment (there is always things i didn't bring:mad:).Most places can handle 10 to 15 hives if no other beekeepers are close by, an old mentor of mine told me that when you go looking for a place to put your hives, look for farms where they don't keep there fence rows cleaned out, that will be your best bet.:thumbsup: The only thing that i've planted for bees that they have never failed to work is Buckwheat (mournings only) but, some people don't like buckwheat honey. One thing you can ask 10 beekeepers and get the same answer about there honey out look for the year, and they will say, it depends on the weather.:grin: Jack
     
  10. reidi_tim

    reidi_tim New Member

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    G3 asked me the other night when we were skyping how many hives I was wanting to have and my answer as many as I can put on 200 acres. :grin: There are a couple of orchards in the area when I get more hives I will check into setting up some other yards. This years goal is to put the 5 frame into a eight frame garden hive and move them to the house and hopefully split the other 3.
     
  11. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    This questions answer depends on so many other variables and factors that it is impossible to answer. The ability of an area can change from year to year depending on weather, during the main nectar flow and also during the spring when colony buildup is needed. A bee yard a few miles away can yield completely difference results. Beekeepers spread out their hives in different area yards to hedge their bet in producing a honey crop. In consistently good areas they tend to leave more hives. Some areas are not worth keeping any hives in unless you want them in that area for pollination, then how many hives do you need to provide the pollination? It depends on the crop.

    Most times when the term hives per acre is used in conjunction to bee density to provide adequate pollination for a specific crop. Some of these crops are not good nectar or pollen providers and more hives are needed to provide the pollination service than what the crop can support in some years.
     
  12. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I have decided NOT to worry about planting 2 lots with alfalfa, even if I bought them, the city would make me keep it mowed if they ever enforce. Which they didn't do last year, current owner has never mowed, and bought 2 years ago, but my luck would have me in trouble with expensive seed in the ground. Going to scatter white clover seed I guess.
     
  13. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Good choice Gypsi that's what I would do. You could mix in some lavender as well as other honey plants. Don't let anyone see you so if they ask about the increase in flowering bee forage you can heap the praise on the bees for doing such a good job at pollinating. You can spread it along the ditches and fence lines as well.
    Farmers that graze cattle don't like the tall white or yellow sweet clover cause if the cows get into it and eat it green it slows down the clouting if the animal gets a cut. But it is also a great bee plant.
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would guess that 5 or 6 in your location is not too many. Actually I would suspect if you doubled the number that would not be too many. In Texas (and generally as you move from east to west) moisture and more importantly soil moisture is the critical variable. That small strip of black land soil that stretches to the east and north east of Dallas can produce quite remarkable (when it gets moisture) honey crops.

    I would also guess you would do better in getting half a dozen similarly concerned citizens to plant stuff in their yards that produces nectar in the off season in Texas. Such small acts might not get you a super of honey but it does have the potential of producing enough to keep the girls busy and something coming in the front door when the natural environment does not provide.
     
  15. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't know. I have a bit of blackland prairie with wildflowers but the surrounding acres are mainly bermuda grass, and rain has been scarce this winter. Very scarce. The closest lake is 8 feet below normal. I think I have a buyer for a hive, and I think I'm going to sell one, to get the count down and recoup a little investment. I only bought 2 nucs, didn't expect to end up with 5. I should correct my location, I'm southwest of Fort Worth. It is dryer here.
     
  16. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Gypsi are you on metered water and people would rather have brown lawns and few gardens than having to pay the water bill?
     
  17. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Metered and rationed water. We have had a horrendous drought. At least on City water I still HAD water.

    My back lawn was green for 2 weeks last year, and there are circles of green around my trees front and back. I water the gardens and the trees. Who needs grass?
     
  18. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    @Gypsi:

    You're up late. I figured you for an "early to bed, early to rise" gal. Can you drill a well where you are located? Are you over the Trinity Aquifer? I'm on the west side of Weatherford, and my Trinity Aquifer will produce a lot of water. I don't use much water, but it is available if ever I so desire.
     
  19. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Fort Worth annexed us in 1992, shut down the old well at the end of the street saying it was unsafe, put us on city water and charged us money. You think they are going to allow me to drill a well? I wish. I am probably over the aquifer. They are also fracking nearby, so whatever water there was is probably ruined.
     
  20. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Cheep water relates to more bee forage as people keep the grass green that has clover and dandelions in it. More shrubs and flower beds. Larger gardens. Lack of affordable water all contributes to the shrinking amount of forage.