How Many hives in a hobby bee yard?

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BDT123
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How Many hives in a hobby bee yard?

Unread post by BDT123 » April 7th, 2017, 9:10 pm

So, I've ordered 2 new packages of bees for April 27th.
How many hives can a single bee yard accommodate? What would be acceptable in a hobbyist bee yard.
I'm rural, no commercial beeks in proximity, no other known beeks within a couple miles.
Lots of 'native' feed, plus roadside weeds, fallow hay fields, etc. Lots of water this time of year, bird baths later. Bees love them, more than birds! 😝
I think I could run 8 to 16 hives but would love some advice/feedback from you folks with experience.
Best regards,
Brian

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Countryboy
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Re: How Many hives in a hobby bee yard?

Unread post by Countryboy » April 7th, 2017, 10:24 pm

I'm hesitant to give you a definitive answer, because I don't know exactly what your area is like, however most green, deciduous areas of North America will support 20 hives. Areas with really funky climate conditions will be able to support less bees. Some areas will be able to support more than 20 hives.

I normally run about 10-12 hives max in a yard for honey production. I drive a pickup truck as my bee truck. If I have 5 supers on each hive, and I pull 50 supers off a yard, that is a truckload.

I know, I could pull a trailer and do bigger yards. But...I am still a one man show. If I am pulling honey in a dearth in fall, by the time I get all the bees blown out of supers and the last boxes on the truck, the bees are already starting to try to rob off the truck. If I was trying to pull more hives, the bees would have even longer to get a robbing frenzy going before I finished up.

I base yard size on what is convenient for me to work, rather than how many hives an area will support. In my area, I believe my yards will support more hives in a yard than I want to deal with when I visit a yard.

In terms of a hobbyist yard, I don't really know. At what point do you consider yourself a sideliner beekeeper? Usually 25 hives is considered a hobbyist. By that time, most people want 2 different beeyards, not because the area can't support that many hives, but because the beekeepers want to be able to move splits to a new location.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio

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BDT123
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Re: How Many hives in a hobby bee yard?

Unread post by BDT123 » April 10th, 2017, 6:47 pm

Thanks for your observations,CB. I intend to stay Hobby at this point, but Sideliner is not out of the question.
I anticipate 4-5 hives this year, going to 8 the following year, and maybe that's it.
I have access to a friend's farm, currently all in hay and surrounding bush. Could support maybe 12 - 20 hives. He's surrounded by more ag.
I think I'll stick to my 2 year plan and dream big when I know I can keep them all alive.
Will try being a good beekeeper first, then go from there.
Best regards,
Brian

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BDT123
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Re: How Many hives in a hobby bee yard?

Unread post by BDT123 » April 25th, 2017, 9:07 pm

Country, I've been doing a little rural recon this month and it looks like most of the bigger operators are keeping about 20 to 24 hives in an apiary in the field. I guess my few will be just fine. Nothing spotted closer than 6 miles to me. Doesn't mean they aren't there, just not obvious. The ones I saw are all insulated still. Not surprising with the snow and cold we've been getting.
Best regards,
Brian

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