Why are vine crops a "death sentence" for honey bee hives?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Eddy Honey, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    My neighboring farmer put in 50 acres of cucumbers; there is squash, melons, cantelopes all around me and always have been since I've been keeping bees (3 years)

    A farmer 3 miles down the road asked if I'd place 3 hives near his squash fields so I stuck 3 captured swarm call hives there for him and he paid me.

    Experienced bee keepers are telling me my bees are doomed and these crops are a death sentence to my hives.

    Why is that?
     
  2. Walt B

    Walt B Active Member

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    Our gardens have squash, cucumbers, etc. and the bees seem to be OK, and the little Ag blurbs I've read say that the vine crops require honey bees for pollination. Maybe some commercial growers treat the soil with a chemical that is harmful to bees?

    Walt
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    The problem is that they don't produce enough nectar. You have to feed them when pollinating those crops if that's all there is in the area. They aren't poisoned, they starve.
     
  4. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    Dang Iddee you know a lot about bees. How long have you been keeping bees?
     
  5. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    Ok thanks,

    I'll keep a real good check on them.
    There's lots of clover, trees, bushes, and a field of blue cornflowers next-door plus big swamp land behind them.
     
  6. lazy shooter

    lazy shooter New Member

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    A friend of mine grew cantaloupes commercially several years back, and he said that he always hired pollinators and that the beekeepers liked to place bees in his fields. My bees are currently all over a tree we call "tickle tongue."
     
  7. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    as Iddee said they will starve to death on vines. My guess would be if there is clover blooming in the area they probably wont touch the vines
     
  8. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I don't know river. My neighbor has a few water melon plants that bloom early in the morning and they were all over those and had to fly over the clover to get there. Plus there is a bunch of Privet (sp) bushes in bloom and they are teeming with bees in the early morning. After 11 it gets dangerous walking outside barefoot because the clover is covered lol.
     
  9. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    not all plant blooms produce nectar through out the day some produce in the mornings while others in the evening. that would explain bees on differrent plants at different times of the day. Smart little critters will go to the best source of nectar
     
  10. indypartridge

    indypartridge New Member

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    I think there's more to it than just lack of nectar. One of my beek friends is a commercial beekeeper whose family has been keeping bees for 50+ years. It's only been in recent years that they stopped pollinating vine crops. When I asked him why, he shrugged and said his colonies just dwindled and died after being on vine crops, even after they had been moved to areas of good forage.
     
  11. srvfantexasflood

    srvfantexasflood Member

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    And when someone writes a book giving those details I will be the first one in line to buy it!

    Here is an article about honeybees and vine crop pollination by Marla Spivak http://www.vegedge.umn.edu/vegpest/vine.htm
     
  12. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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  13. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Lazy shooter, I'm just a newbee. I only started about 1976 or 77.
     
  14. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    so my crazy mixed up garden that has watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, (summer and winter), cucumbers but also has tomatoes, interplanted shrubs that will bloom most of the summer, and wildflowers going wild, won't hurt the bees
     
  15. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    Interestingly, individual bees will focus on individual crops and only fly out of the hive during the hours that crop is producing nectar, the rest of the time then loaf around at home. Perhaps that's why any kind of monoculture is not ideal for a hive. My bees pretty much refuse to touch anything in my garden. They all fly off about a mile to the alfa alfa and clover along the railway tracks. and back roads. It's a very rare event to see one of my bees in my garden, the only exception being the cherry trees in the spring. Fortunately there are about a dozen species of native pollinators that are happy to help me out.
     
  16. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    That has been my experience on vine crops. I also had that problem coming off apples last spring. I'm about out of the pollination business.
     
  17. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    How long is the typical pollination deal for squash? Mine have been there for 2 weeks now.
     
  18. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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  19. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    I checked the bees today after 2 weeks on the squash field. My 2 smaller hives (1 deep w/ empty deep on top)) are doing well putting away honey and nice laying patterns. They're drawing wax in the top deep.
    The bigger hive 1.5 deeps) have put away alot of honey and have nice brood patterns as well but still have 3 or 4 frames in the top box to draw out.
    They must be finding something else to forage later in the day.
    Majority of pollen coming in is bright orange.
    I'll check back in a week or so.
     
  20. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    My hives spent 2 weeks on squash in a hothouse. They were returned home after they had completed their job. However---the polination was for the raising of seeds, not for polinating squash to be picked for the vegetable plate.