Watermelons, Honeydew Melons and Cantaloups

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Yankee11, Jan 29, 2014.

  1. Yankee11

    Yankee11 New Member

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    Got a call from a farmer that grows fresh produce, he mentioned watermelons, honeydew, cantaloups, beans, peas. Soybeans, he needs
    bees. He wants to meet with me next week. Said he will eventually need 25 hives or so.

    He said his farms, (he has multiple places), but his immediate need is a new place he is starting. It's about 80 acres and it is surrounded by soybeans. He is planting the 80 acres in melons. He also said it's about 1000 feet from the Arkansas river and the river banks are grown up for miles. He also says he runs his own brick and mortar produce store and I could sell the honey in his store.

    I have to go check this out. What about nectar from the melon plants, do they produce nectar. For some reason I am thinking they don't, but cant find much material on it. But if this 80 acres in indeed in middle of soybeans and a lot of grown up stuff along river, I think this may be a good deal.

    As usual, I have to ask the experts.

    Boy, things seem to be starting to pop.
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would say due to the location close to a major river that the spot itself is worth a look see. Large creek or small to large rivers are ALWAYS my preferred kinds of spots < old old research from long ago gave me a good indication that 'the data' indicated these are the best sorts of place to set down bee.

    I am guessing that watermelons like a lot of crop the nectar will be variable based on soil type and variety of melon. melons in recent times have become somewhat known to be hard on bees.... not certain if this is related to nectar secretion, pollen quality or types of chemicals used on watermelons.

    some folks across the river produce watermelons in large numbers but the casualty I observed in the pollination hives set on to this property certainly dissuaded me from even thinking about setting hives down in such a location.

    at 1 hive per acre of watermelons sounds like you may need more hives.
     

  3. Yankee11

    Yankee11 New Member

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    Yea, more hives :thumbsup:

    I told him I can't supply his 20-25 hives this year. I am gonna check out the spot though, because of the soybeans and the river, maybe their will be enough
    of the other stuff that the melons wont be hard on the hives?
     
  4. Ray

    Ray Member

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    I asked a local farmer if He sprayed his soybeans. He said sometimes for aphids.
    I asked if he sprayed when they were blooming. He ignored my question.
    ​Watch out for the pesticides!
     
  5. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    I don't know about all melons, but watermelons bloom in the morning, and the blooms close in the afternoon. My bees were very close to a watermelon patch this past summer. I ask the farmer to spray in the afternoons. He did, and I could not see any adverse affects on the bees. My hive build up during this time, and they were bringing in yellow pollen that looked like it came from watermelons. They also were flying toward the watermelon field.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    thanks for that personal input Lazy. I will add that such a site sounds promising but as for me I would not want to put all my eggs in one basket.
     
  7. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    Tecumseh:

    I didn't explain my situation very well. My bees were in my back yard, and the watermelon patch was about 400 yards south of them. They fed on his watermelon blooms for about six weeks. I didn't have a choice in the matter. After that they foraged on a cotton field that was about 400 yards west of them. I wouldn't move bees to a watermelon patch; however, if I was a pollinator I would consider cotton. I'm too old and lazy to be a pollinator. These were first year hives, and they did well on both crops, but the cotton seemed to be better. It made pretty honey.
     
  8. Yankee11

    Yankee11 New Member

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    Thanks for the input,

    I am not taking all 20 of our hives out there. I told him I could do maybe 6 or 8 this year and see how they did. I am really more interested in the location along the river and the soybeans around him. If they don't do well then I'll know.

    I guess ya never know about a spot until you try it. Kinda like fishing..
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    Exactly... I have found is that most sites will fool you and you never know which way that will go till you give it a try.

    some years back I got on to a site where there was lots of cotton and I suspect that the level of spraying from cotton would be something of a problem. I was quite wrong in this regards since now days the cotton producers here spray very little. after a year or so I realized how exceptional this site was.... in 2011 during the worst drought in 50 years the bees at this site made a small crop (never removed however) when every other yard I had required a massive exercise in feeding just to keep them alive < this site was irrigated due to the cotton and this is why I suspect that even in a very dry year it could produce something of a honey crop.
     
  10. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    My bees were also near an irrigated cotton field. The one plus about cotton, was that once it started blooming it bloomed for a couple of months. There was a major bloom for two or three weeks, but then I noticed the cotton continued to bloom a few blooms for at least two months. The cotton made a beautiful light colored honey. I am partially color blind, so I won't pick a color, but it was light in clarity.
     
  11. Capt44

    Capt44 New Member

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    Bees on melons

    I don't like to put bees on watermelons because the bees make very little honey.
    Now if you have cotton or soybeans around it will be different.
    But just melons I wouldn't mess with it unless he paid pretty good per hive.
    A farmer here in Arkansas pays $150.00 per hive but the honey production is very poor.
    My bees on clover and wild flowers do real good and good on beans.
     
  12. Yankee11

    Yankee11 New Member

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    This is Steve in Cabot. Been talking with you on phone.
     
  13. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    My bees were working a watermelon patch from my back yard last summer. They built up pretty well on what I assumed were watermelon blooms. Then I realized in the back portion of the watermelon patch there was about two acres of pumpkins. It may have been the pumpkins that built them from six frames to 16 frames. For sure, the watermelon blooms close about noon each day, and bees kept hauling in pollen all afternoon. After the watermelon and pumpkin, the bees fed real well on cotton blooms.

    I have read that watermelon, cucumbers and most vine vegetables are poor forage for bees. As a three year beekeeper, in a severe drought, I'm not sure of anything.