There must be developing bees (brood) on two or more frames of the five frames that are covered by adult bees (estimated population of 15,000 – 20,000 adult bees).
A colony having adult bees on eight of the honey bee colony’s ten frames and having five frames of brood is a stronger colony (20,000 – 32,000 adult bees) and would be a more efficient pollinating unit. Analyzing entrance activity without knowing internal colony conditions isn’t an precise way to assess colony strength.
What is the approximate number of colonies should be used to pollinate an acre of tree crops? an acre of vine crops?
A single strong colony (or two average colonies) per acre for tree crops.
Two strong colonies per acre for vine crops (about 1 colony per 50,000 plants).
Can bees other than Honey Bees be utilized?
Yes, indeed other species of bees can often be better pollinators than Honey Bees. Nonetheless, populations of the these bees are challenging to manage and annual populations numbers could be erratic. Be sure to encourage populations of these bees in your area by providing undisturbed nesting areas and applying insecticides cautiously, but plan to rely on Honey Bee colonies as a pollinator insurance service.
Can a farmer maintain their own bees?
Certainly, but the farmer must plan to become a beekeeper (to some extent). Different from past years, bees left untended cannot manage for themselves. Basic bee management and illness control cannot be ignored.
Do bees from hives that I rent wander from my crop or orchard?
Certainly they do. But when crop flowers are the most common flower and are nearby, many (if not most) bees will stay on the targeted crop. Decrease competition from other weed flowers within and around the orchard or field by mowing or using herbicides.
Additionally, commercial bee attractants are available that will train bees to crop blossoms first. These attractants are helpful, but still will not keep all foragers on the targeted crop.
Exactly why have bee colony rental rates gone up in past years? What are averagerental prices?
The costs of controlling mites in bee hives has increased operating costs. In addition, the costs of replacement bees has steadily risen (again in response to mite control costs) thereby increasing the costs of maintaining colony numbers. Depending on the crop, hives are renting for $40 – $70 based on colony strength and nearness to the crop to be pollinated.
Just how much notification do beekeepers need before moving colonies in or moving colonies out?
In cases where prior arrangements have been made, the beekeeper should be expecting your call. Overall, probably twenty-four hours is common. Nevertheless, weather can change everything. Both the grower and the beekeeper must remain flexible.
Where’s the most beneficial area for the beekeeper to put the colonies in my planting?
Normally, spread the colonies around the planting in groups. The bigger the orchard or field, the bigger the number of colonies in these “islands of bees”. There is probably no practical reason for spreading colonies in singles or doubles. Foraging bees will equalize themselves within the crop.
Make sure that the beekeeper can get trucks and equipment into the crop and that the colonies may be managed while they are on site. Avoid locations near human activity.
Will the bees attack human workers in the orchard or planting?
By far the most problematic time for bee colonies is the morning after the move into the orchard. Make sure to provide them a wide area then. Beyond that, just stay a reasonable distance away from the hive locations. Foraging bees within tree canopies or on vine crop blossoms are practically harmless and will make every effort to avoid human interaction.