• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Beekeepers and Growers

 
Bill Kearns
Posts: 159
Location: E Washington steppe
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We purchased a beehive and bees, set it up near our "intown" beds/trees with the understanding that our neighborhood beekeeper would work the hive and split the honey. However, this has not been the case and we've seen no honey. Beekeeper says that typically the grower gets the benefit of pollination and the beekeeper gets the honey.

Is this right? Do growers/farmers/orchardists invite beekeepers to put hives on their land to get pollination while the beekeepers keep the honey? Do the growers/farmers/orchardists purchase the bees and hives?

Can someone explain how these types of arrangements usually work

Thanks!
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
269
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If it is the beekeeper's hive/bees, technically it is his honey (but usually in a neighbor/neighbor relationship, the land owner gets some honey). If it is your hive/bees, AND you had a prior agreement, it sounds like he is trying to take advantage of you.

As important as pollination is, that is not the only reason to purchase honey bees and their equipment. Native pollinators and neighborhood honey bees should be sufficient to pollinate your plants. Why go to the expense of bees if the pollination is naturally happening anyways? Since they are your bees/hive, try contacting a local beekeeper's assn. Somebody should be willing to service the hives for a "share" of the honey.

We have let beekeepers keep a hive or two of their bees on our property, and we were never lacking honey for our use. We usually got so much that we had to give some away to friends & neighbors. Sounds like you found a stingy beekeeper. Better luck next time.

 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
75
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
you bought the hives and bees? this beekeeper sounds like a clown.

Bill Kearns wrote:Beekeeper says that typically the grower gets the benefit of pollination and the beekeeper gets the honey.


the more common arrangement is that a beekeeper provides the hives and bees. if that were the case, I think the beekeeper could have a point. as that is not the case, I think it's time for you to do some reading and dive into the beekeeping yourself. not as difficult as you might expect.
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes Bill, I agree with the other two - I think he's 'at it'. And I agree with Tel, start learning to be a beekeeper. It's possible to be very non-interventionist and just let the bees get on with it. I'm only just near the beginning of this wonderful 'partnership' and my life is so enriched by having the bees to act as guardian for. I guess I'm not a very conventional beekeeper, more of a naturalist. Maybe next year the bees will give me a present of honey if they have enough spare - I'll look forward to that.
 
Judith Browning
Pie
Posts: 5547
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
260
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a hive on our land owned by a neighbor who checks on them and harvests the honey. We buy all of the honey from him at a reasonable price and we are all happy. I grow extra flowers for all of the pollinators around and love having honey from our own flowers. We always thought we would buy a hive or two but this has worked well for twelve years. If we owned the hive and bees we would learn to work them ourselves or certainly expect half of the honey.
 
Bill Kearns
Posts: 159
Location: E Washington steppe
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you all for your input! Guess we'll move the hive out here to the "farm" and take over care ourselves (using the good information posted here and on the web).

This forum is great!

= )
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
Posts: 933
Location: France
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good for you Bill What sort of beehive did you buy?
 
jacob wustner
Posts: 64
Location: Western Montana
13
bee chicken fish goat hugelkultur hunting
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bill,

This beekeeper doesn't sound very honest. In the agricultural industry, growers pay a per hive fee to beekeepers for bees to be brought to their site for pollination. This is usually a short term deal and the grower does not get honey unless it was previously agreed upon. For locations where beekeepers put their bees on someone else's land for honey production for a season, the landowners get rent honey from beekeepers in trade for letting the beekeepers put bees on their place. The amount of honey is a small percentage of the harvest, but usually enough for the land owner to have honey for a full year.

Here, it seems that a hobbyist beekeeper took advantage of you and didn't own up to the original agreement. The problem here is that the hobbyist felt like he did all the work and should get the honey. Doesn't sound like he wants to be a good friend or neighbor, much less a beekeeper with a reputation for being an honest and sweet person. But he probably doesn't know what he is getting into by agreeing to help you take care of one hive. Keeping bees takes time, effort and a desire to be constantly learning. Doing it yourself is a good idea if you want a lot of honey.

But expecting someone to do all the work and then split all the honey 50/50 is setting yourself up for a dissatisfied beekeeper and relationship with both sides being unhappy.

Local and native pollinators rock, but getting honey bees for pollination is always a good idea because they are very efficient and make food production more profitable. I suggest joining a local beekeeper club to find people who want to help you get honey from your bees.

Best of luck!
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1530
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi,
Is anybody here? It's been years since the last post to this thread.

I agreed to allow a bee keeper to keep several hives on my place. At the time he said there was a standard percentage for the landlord but he could not remember what it was, he would let me know. He intended to keep several hives, has the boxes, but lost a couple of colonies in the 1200 mile winter move. In addition to a protected place for his hives, he has stored all his empties and equipment here as well.

Recently I asked what that standard percentage is, and the answer was vague, and "you'll be getting more than enough honey".

I have a friend who allowed bees at her place, and received only one quart of honey. The beekeeper saying "Oh, I sold all of it".

So, here I am checking to see if there is a standard landowner percent.

And, just in case someone thinks the bee keepers are doing all the work, the owners are seldom out here. I keep an eye on the bees, and make sure they have water. In the desert this is important. Any day that is not "cold" they are all over the water dish at my door, though there are plenty of other water troughs closer to their hive.

In an area with bears and other large predators, I provide a secure fence, and a guarding dog.

I would work the hives, have my own bees, but I had an allergic reaction 40 years ago, so I just don't think it is smart to be the one opening the hives. I could and would help with the extraction.

So, beekeepers, in a partnership agreement, what is the range of fair percentages of total production for the landlord? I'd like to have some idea that does not come through him.

Thanks
Thekla
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 632
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
17
trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thekla McDaniels wrote:Recently I asked what that standard percentage is, and the answer was vague, and "you'll be getting more than enough honey".
I have a friend who allowed bees at her place, and received only one quart of honey. The beekeeper saying "Oh, I sold all of it".
So, here I am checking to see if there is a standard landowner percent.

I would say it depends.

Do you have growers in your area begging for bee keepers to set up hives on their property? In that case, the growers should expect pollination, and that's about it due to the balance of supply and demand. Conversely, if there are legions of bee keepers looking for space to set up hives and only a few growers, then the growers should expect a good chunk of the honey harvest.

Somewhat related: in my area there are many deer hunters desperate to find hunting land, and few property owners willing to let them hunt. Every year, I invite hunters out at my orchard since the reduction in deer population is a huge benefit to me. Some would say that's compensation enough for the right to hunt the property. However, due to the huge amount of demand for hunting land, I am able to be fairly picky about who gets to hunt, and unsurprisingly a hunter that fails to share a reasonable portion of his venison has never been invited back the following year.
 
jacob wustner
Posts: 64
Location: Western Montana
13
bee chicken fish goat hugelkultur hunting
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thekla,

I can only tell you what I have learned from being a commercial beekeeper in Western Montana. The standards may differ between region and beekeeper. When we place 24-28 colonies on a landowner's property, that landowner receives 30 pounds of honey each year, regardless of the honey crop. Now depending on the year, the 30 pounds of honey would be a different percentage of the total crop. On a good year here, lets say that the beekeeper gets 100 lbs of honey per hive. In a yard of 24 hives, that would be 2400 lbs of honey. 30 divided by 2400 is 1.25%, not a very high percentage. ON a bad year, a very bad year, maybe the beekeeper would get 30 lbs per hive, which would be 720 lbs. The 30 lbs of rent honey would be more like 4.17% of the total crop, which would be significant for the beekeeper. So I would say on average the landowner gets 1-2% of the honey crop, while the beekeeper keeps the rest.

This is standard for commercial beekeeping where I am from. It could differ between regions, especially when the honey country differs greatly. You have to understand that beekeepers are like most farmers, they don't make a lot of money unless they operate lots of hives. 30 lbs of honey is way more than the average american family consumes in a year, so most landowners are completely enthralled with this type of arrangement. Personally I eat about 120 lbs of honey each year, so obviously I have to keep a few hives just to feed myself. If you make an arrangement with a beekeeper who doesn't know what is standard for leasing a spot for bees, then they probably are not really doing it for a living. And when they hear how little of a percentage a commercial outfit gives the landowner, they may think that they shouldn't share that much of the honey. But if you can't keep your landowner happy, you are not going to have the spot for long.

Remember, the beekeeper is taking all the risk in keeping hives. The landowner usually just risks getting stung. There is so much work involved in keeping hives commercially, and you usually don't know how much the beekeeper works unless you stay home 24-7 to make sure the beekeeper isn't coming to work the hives. Beekeepers operate on natures time, and show up to bee yards when they need to. Usually the landowner is working somewhere else and we rarely see each other. Extracting honey is a very small part of the work, most of the work involves keeping them alive and in the equipment. It is great that you watch over the bees and provide water, but remember that you don't really see all the work the beekeeper does to make a living. Not all of it is done in the bee yard.

Of course, it sounds like your beekeeper is not very professional and may be taking advantage of you. My suggestion is to not be confrontational, but inquisitive. As questions like; "How many hives do you keep?', "How long have you been keeping hives?", "Where did you learn how to keep bees?", "How was your last season?", "How is this year shaping up?", or "How are the bees doing?". This way you can accurately compare your situation to most commercial operations who run 500 or more colonies, have been doing it for years, have learned by working for other beekeepers, and are usually honest enough to make sure the landowner is happy with the honey for rent situation. Their business kind of depends on it.

I hope this helps! Feel free to have me clarify anything I said here and if you have more questions please ask!

Jake Wustner
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Pie
Posts: 1693
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a) ~39" rain/year
179
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another data point. I just watched an episode of the TV show "Growing a Greener World" that featured an urban beekeeping business. They put hives in urban yards for a flat 22oz of honey, apparently per year although the show didn't go into detail. Frankly that doesn't sound like a decent desl to me, but the dude supposedly placed as many hives as he could handle.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
75
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
the deal I offer is 10% of whatever I harvest from the hives. in practice, that's more of a floor, and I've ended up splitting it 50/50 with one host. I hope that making it a percentage means the hosts are more invested in the health of the bees, so they'll avoid pesticides, plant good sources of nectar and pollen, and encourage neighbors to do the same. mine is a pretty small operation, though, and entirely hands-off apart from installing swarms and harvesting, so my overhead is really low. I also don't move my hives once they're established, so it's a long-term commitment.
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1530
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks so much for all the input. We've come to a clear agreement. It really helped to have all the perspective. I'm that host with established sources of nectar and pollen, good shelter and next to thousands of acres of wild land. It is nice to hear others re-iterate the importance and value of what I provide for the bees.

Thanks
Thekla
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic