anybody keep bees?


5 year old buck +
I've got 5 acres of apple trees in my orchard that are in their 4th year and was wondering how many of you guys keep bees? I'm thinking next year I'll look for a nearby beekeeper to see if they could put some hives out to help pollination. I also have a 15 acre alfalfa field that's getting retired to a wildflower/grass field for pheasants and was wondering if that would be a good summer place for bees as well?
I think the field may be the key to getting a wild be population going. When we moved stands last year labor day weekend, we had to walk through a 20 acre clear cut that had grown back into grass and perrenial flowers. I was amazed at the number of bees per square foot in that field, and the different kinds of bees.
I've found a couple of clubs online that I'll be contacting for next year and may eventually in my retirement years get into it. I just figured now that I'm letting the apples flower and fruit it would be a good time to look into it. Anybody ever build the houses for the solitary bees? I've seen how to do it and it doesn't look to hard. Something else maybe to do this fall when I'm back up.
Thanks stu. I've got some nice pics of a decent buck and a doe with twins on cams so it looks like this year might not be too bad.
The wife started a hive when she read about the decline of bees and decided to "do her part" in helping them. She lost her first hive in the first winter but the hive she has now survived last years bitter weather and is doing great. They are incredibly interesting creatures with an amazing social structure.
I've always thought they were pretty neat little creatures. The solitary ones are interesting to read up on as well.
I keep my distance from them as I swell like a balloon when I get stung.
QDMOhio had a great post on the other site about mason orchard bees. My sense is, while not 'set and forget', they're a touch easier to deal with than honey bees for those of us either not yet retired or live a fair distance from our hunting land.
I did a batch of reading on mason bees this past winter. Contacted a couple bee vendors to get some info on the particulars. My camp might try them this coming spring. We'll have some apples & crabs ( newer ones ) that probably will bloom this coming year as well as some released apple trees that have pushed new growth this summer. So we may need some additional bees next year. Interesting little critters.
Bowsnbucks, you probably learned that there are two different strains of mason bees, one for the west and one for the east.
Did you find a source to purchase mason bees for the east?
Yes. Crown Bees in Washington State. I spoke with them by phone on 2 occasions. They handle the Eastern variety as well as all the other types AND bumble bees, too. Their site has a chart of what bees to use when & where. Nice people to talk to, very informative. They aren't the only source, but were the most helpful to me.
Thanks for the info guys.
The thing I learned about Mason bees is that they can sting - but DON'T sting. There are pix of bare hands holding them. They're said to be very docile compared to honey bees, which aren't really aggressive anyway. They don't make honey, so they don't attract bears. We have bears, too, but from reading about mason bees, the thing most likely to try to get them is a woodpecker. That's why you have to use 1/2" hardware cloth as an outer barrier to keep woodpeckers from reaching the larvae in the bee house. Lots less work than honey bees.
The honeybees do require some work. If the wife hadn't wanted them I'd have tried the Mason bees.
Nothing wrong with honey bees at all. If we had the time, I'd give them a go, too. For our camp, it's a lot easier to try mason bees. And with honey bees you get - HONEY ! Have fun with 'em.
Wade as some of your neighbor Amish I know they have some hives in our area we had them a couple years ago. Somebody sells self serve honey at the corner of 11 and 24,
Thanks lee. I'll have to look into it this fall when I get back up. I'm sure they'd jump at the chance to put some hives in a fenced in area. My amish neighbor to the north is basically the area go to guy and has lots of connections so I'm sure he knows who keeps them.
If there are sheds, barns, etc. on a property - build an elevated platform up high on the side of the building or on a shed roof to hold the hives. It worked fine for us at a camp in the middle of bear country.
I've got an 8 foot fence around 5 acres and so far the bears have stayed out but I don't think there's many around to begin with.
NH - We used to have honey bees & kept them on a high platform on an outbuilding. Bears couldn't get to the hives, but our colonies died off or got that " hive disorder"
that's written about & they flew out & didn't return. Mason bees sound like a much easier alternative for our apple trees. We'll try 'em.