cost for small hive to stimulate fruit trees and garden

engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)March 28, 2008

I have a small backyard orchard and garden -and thought about incorporating a beehive on site to help with pollination.I do not plan on harvesting any of the honey for myself,unless it is suggested to take part of it for maximum activity from the bees.What would be the initial cost for 1 small hive,and where would I get the supplies from? Any input is appreciated,as I know absolutely nothing about this topic.Thanks

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tonybeeguy

If you go with a traditional style hive, you'll probably be spending around $400 for a new complete hive, veil, smoker, hive tool,and bees. This is a ballpark figure depending on what you choose for equipment. Another method is a top bar hive which uses less equipment, but you would probably have to make your own.
Find out who your closest supplier is.
Look for a local bee club or nearby beekeeping orginization.
If you definitely want to go foward you would have to order bees right away or find someone who would be willing to sell you a starter hive.
Here are some helpful sources:
"Beesource.com" a forum on all aspects of beekeeping
Some supply companies:
Betterbee
Dadant
Mann Lake
Brushy Mountain
Blue Sky
There are many others you can find on the web, but this will get you started.

A few good beginner's books:
"Hive Management" and "Beekeeping, A Practical Guide" both by Richard Bonney
"Backyard Beekeeping"
"First Lessons in Beekeeping"

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 12:40PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

Thanks for the reply tony.Since I only want a hive for pollinating my stuff,is it mandatory for me to actually tend to it? Or can I just let it do it's own thing?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 2:15PM
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tonybeeguy

In theory and in a perfect world, you could put a package of bees in the hive, they would prosper, build up to a point of being overcrowded, and the queen would swarm with about half of the hive leaving bees and new queen cells. One of these cells would produce the new queen which would start the process over again. That's how it worked in the wild until varroa mites came along. There are feral hives which have survived varroa and some beekeepers are letting the strong hives survive to hopefully get hygenic stock that's mite resistant. I've also known of people getting a hive that hasn't been tended at all in a number of years. In most cases, and not all, bees left to do their own thing would perish in a couple of years. My advice, if you don't actually care about honey or taking care of a bee colony is see if there is a local beekeeper looking for new site to keep some bees and work out an agreement with him or her. If you decide to wing it you may want to check out what type of bee does well in your area. Out here in Western Mass, Russian bees are becoming more popular for mite resistance and good overwintering qualities in the cold N.E. winters

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 10:18PM
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ccrb1(z5 IND)

Untended hives often become problems... they get infected or infested, and become a real source for spreading these problems around.

If you don't want to take the time to learn, consider finding a hobby beekeeper who will rent you a hive for pollination.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 11:21PM
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engineeredgarden(7, nw Alabama)

thanks for all the info fellas,I really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 11:09PM
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barbara_muret(ctr OK)

maybe a more important helpful note is that there are a "zillion" insects that pollinate besides honeybees. You might google "pollinating insects" to feel reassured. Also if you have pollen, bees will find you: from the wild, from other peoples hives.

You'd love keeping bees though.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 8:47PM
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austransplant(MD 7)

If you want honey bees but do not want to make the investment in time learning how to care for them and then doing so, your best bet as mentioned above is to get in contact with your local beekeepers club (look online). Club members are always looking for places to put new hives. You could probably work out an arrangement where you get the hives placed for free and maybe a jar or two of honey. The beekeeper would usually keep the bulk of the honey to help pay for the quite substantial costs of setting up the hives, maintenance and equipment.

Whether in fact the bees help much with the fruit trees depends on what else is available when they are in bloom. Honey bees tend to be specific to certain plants: when they find one major supply of nectar or pollen they like, they concentrate their energies on that and ignore other sources. I have found that my bees are all over my stone fruit but tend to ignore pears, with apples somewhere in between. On the other hand, when major sources of nectar are not available, as in summer, the bees will be very effective pollinators in your vegetable garden -- especially for things like squash and cucumbers. (Though bumblebees do a good job on these too.)

You can attract more native pollinators like bumbebees by planting flowering plants that attract them.

One other option is to get mason orchard bees. These do not live in big colonies like honey bees. They are sold in tubes, which you place out in the orchard. They are only active for a few months of the year, when fruit trees are in bloom, and focus their energies on fruit trees and do not roam far from the available trees. (Honeybees can fly up to at least two miles from their hives.) Bee for bee they are much more efficient pollinators than honeybees, and they are much, much cheaper to get. You can look them up on google using key words like "orchard mason bee". Their main drawback is that they will not pollinate your vegetables and if you only have a few fruit trees nearby there may not be enough food for them to survive and build a sustainable population.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 10:51AM
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tominruffin(North Carolina)

If you live near Greensboro, NC I will provide you a hive of bees at no cost. We will need to check out your locality (city limits, neighbors, etc). Otherwise, check with the local county Agr. Extension Office for the name of a local Beekeeper club.

Tom

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 3:44PM
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