Midnite Bee-Beekeeper's: Tips TIPS  
Pollination/HoneyBee Etiquette

The proper placement of honey bee colonies for crop pollination is essential for maximum fruit set and minimizing adverse interaction between bees,humans and livestock. Beekeepers and growers must exercise sound judgement in the transportation and placement of colonies paying particular attention to factors which are site specific. Fields located in populated areas,for example,require more caution in the handling and placement of hives in contrast to the remote blueberry barrens.

Both the beekeeper and grower must pay particular attention to areas that hold animals or livestock. Animals that are tied or penned are more vulnerable to mass stinging especially when the colony are initially moved in and unloaded or when extensively manipulated such as during honey removal.

When choosing the location of honey bee colonies used for pollination,the potential for adverse interaction with people and animals must outweigh convenience of the site.Usually,the grower is more familiar with local conditions than the beekeeper. This is especially the case with migratory beekeepers who reside outside the state and often distribute hives during the night.

The spread of the Africanized honey bee in the U.S.,will present both management and public relations challenges to America"s beekeepers and growers. It is incumbent upon beekeepers,the agriculture community and government to project a positive image to the general public and the local community.

Colony Density is an issue that must be resolved by the grower. The minimum recommended density is one colony/acre. Hive densities of 2-4 colonies/acre may prove beneficial in many areas. Early research concerning blueberry pollination by honey bees has demonstrated a positive correlation in field production in tests using up to 10 hives/acre.

Timing of the placement of colonies into blooming fields is variable according to location. Large acreage of blueberries(barrens)benefit from early placement of hives as there is little competition from other flowering plants. Smaller fields are better pollinated when hives are placed at 10% bloom.. With a delayed placement,honey bees fix on the blueberry crop rather than dandelions or other attractive pollen/nectar sources that compete for the honey bee's attention.

Location of hives is important with respect to public relations and pollination efficiency. Sunny areas that are sheltered from the wind are the best apiary sites. Plenty of morning sun will aid in early foraging activities since less bees are required to maintain hive temperatures. Likewise,colonies sheltered from the wind have more foraging activity.

Honey Bee Etiquette

1)When transporting bee colonies on public roads always have the load netted or screen the entrances of hives.

2)Locate staging yards away from populated areas. Staging yards tend to have defensive bees.

3)Post fields containing bees for pollination. Certain individuals are highly allergic to bee stings and one sting can be life threatening.

4)Situate hives away from high traffic areas. Locate hives away from roads so the bees do not interfere with vehicular or pedestrian traffic.

5)Placement of hives near or on utility 'right of ways" is discouraged unless permission is granted(powerlines,pipelines,underground cables).

6)Avoid placing colonies near school;s,recreation areas,picnic grounds or other locations which may result in adverse honey bee/public interactions.

7)Remove hives from pollination when bees are not flying(night,rainy weather) this is very important in development areas since returning bees are inclined to sting.

8)Provide clean water resources in apiaries that do not have natural supplies of water or in areas with residential pools. Bees can become a nuisance in search of water sources,especially during warm springs.

9)Request that your pollinator operate gentle bees and manage European bee stocks and consistent with the "National Plan" developed at the USDA/NASDA St.Louis,MO. workshop(1991).

ŠTony Jadczak/Maine State Bee Inspector