Leasing Hives for Pollination

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Hog Wild, Jan 12, 2012.

  1. Hog Wild

    Hog Wild New Member

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    How many lease hives for pollination purposes to farms and orchards?

    I was approached by a farmer today that is in the infant stages of switching over from cotton to cucumbers in the next couple of years. He was asking if I could supply some hives for pollination and what was the cost. I had not really considered leasing out hives but it really got me thinking....
    1) What is the going rate per hive; on average.
    2) Is there a hive per acre ratio based upon the crop variance; cucumbers, strawberries, etc.
    3) On average how long do hives need to be present to complete the cycle, 4-6 weeks?
    4) If you are trying to supply honey orders in addition to pollinating do you maintain certain hives for certain functions?

    This is the 2nd person that has approached me regarding pollination. I know there are pros & cons I just don't know what they are!
     
  2. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Different crops require or benefit from managed pollination provided by honeybees. Your County Extension agent should have an idea about the hive(s) per acre ratio for cucumbers. Unless your grower is planting acres, he may not actually need suplimental pollination.

    The price to ask for pollination service varies. I don't know what going rates are like in NC. I get $55.00 for apple pollination here in NY.
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I would imagine it varies by crop and area. Here in Canada, blueberry pollination out west fetches $70 - $75 for three weeks, but here on the east coast we can get $125 for three weeks.
    Your best bet is to find another beek that is local.
     
  4. rast

    rast New Member

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    1. $60. this past year (Fl.)
    2. Yes, see sqkcrk' advice.
    3. 4-6 is usually good for cukes. Or, until he is going to spray something bad for bees! Needs to be discussed beforehand.
    4. Yes, no honey from cukes, matter of fact, plan on feeding during pollination. Farmer is paying you for strong, growing hives. Also, unless you are very vigilant or just plain lucky, plan on some hive losses.
    I'm not trying to sound negative, just facts, I have pollinated cukes and will again.
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    cucumbers are one of those crops that pretty much requires bees to be adequately pollinated. without them the farmer can expect low production and lots of deformed fruit he will have a hard time selling. given the circumstance and location any reasonable bee keeper should recognize his own risk in this agricultural environment is greatly enhanced. so do not sell you services tooooo cheaply. thinking you will get two for one (pollination fee + honey) usually means both hands come up empty.
     
  6. Jacobs

    Jacobs New Member

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  7. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Consider what you are going to loose by putting bees on cucumbers. They are going to have to go in strong and fat. You are going to have to move them there. How? By hand and back or by machinery? You will probably have to feed them during the time they are on site, for 4 to 6 weeks, according to an above post. Then you will want to move them out to honey yards or on to another crop for pollination.

    I doubt that they will gain weight, meaning honey of course, while in cucumbers. So, you have done a lot of work and lost a honey crop, or , at least not a full crop. Figure out what you could have made leaving them in honey production yards. That should inform you what price to ask. Don't be shy, or you will short sell yourself.

    Also, I think it was Warren Buffet or that Virgin Airlines guy who wrote a book titled "Don't Make the First Offer". Get your grower to tell you what they will pay and walk away if it isn't your price or more. If you don't you will be cheating yourself and driving down the price for other beekeepers.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    sqkcrk writes:
    If you don't you will be cheating yourself and driving down the price for other beekeepers.

    tecumseh:
    excellent point... give some one a low ball price and pretty soon the word is out everywhere that 'old farmer so and so' got bees for half the price. of course no one tells the tell two years later that the bee keeper who did this is now broke because he was doing the job for half the proper fare.

    sqkcrk writes:
    Figure out what you could have made leaving them in honey production yards. That should inform you what price to ask.

    tecumseh:
    another excellent snip (if sqkcrk keeps this up we are going to have to allow him into the very exclusive Southern Bee Keeper's Association as a yankee member in good standing). In business school this logic (above snip) would be tagged as 'the opportunity cost' of doing or not doing something. This is a good frame of reference for establishing price or value for lot of things.
     
  9. Hog Wild

    Hog Wild New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, you are dead on regarding low balling the services. There are several in this area that do the same with honey sales, yet have no hives??? Go figure....
     
  10. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Like Show Business, or any other Business, it's a Business, not a hobby or a past time. If people don't treat what they do like a business and make descisions based on income and profitability, well, what should we expect? A hand out? You can bet that the farm you provide pollination service to figures what things cost and what benefit those costs provide.

    This is one of the things which I haven't gotten a good answer to from my apple orchards. My orchardists know what it costs them to maintain their orchards on a per acre basis. And what it costs in Picking Expense, Pruning Expense, Spray Expense, etc, etc. What does it cost them per acre or per bushel for pollination? $55.00/acre last year. The question is, "What is the benefit? What would they loose were the pollination service not provided? If I charged $5.00 or $10.00 more, would they shop for someone else?" In otherwords, I haven't hit the ceiling, except w/ one orchard.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    mark writes:
    This is one of the things which I haven't gotten a good answer to from my apple orchards.

    tecumseh:
    I think in New York Cornell is the states ag school? If you can in someway contact the agricultural economics department then almost all states produce 'partial enterprise budgets' for almost all crop grown within that state. This should then give you some idea of typical production figures both quantity and in dollar amounts. most times 'typical' pollination $ figures/acre would be stated. if you can then get some apple expert to give you some idea of the loss in production when you remove the pollination service then the 'marginal' effect of pollination should be fairly straight forward to figure.

    the above was done rather rigorously in California some time ago in respect to almond pollination. this information suggest that at $150/hive the almond producers are getting quite a deal. this likely suggest that those folks who pay 50 to 75 bucks/hive to get some crop pollinated is really a deal for the producers and a gift from the pollinators.