Pollination contracts ensure the appropriate number of bees and colonies will support crop pollination and that the colonies arrive at the right time. Depending on the supplier, hives are shipped to or placed in the field for farmers.
Rent-a-Bee Is No Laughing Matter
While bee rental isn’t necessary for grain and livestock farmers, many vegetable, nut and fruit producers depend on bees—and lots of them. Due to a collapse of honeybee populations, rental colonies are in high demand.
Current rental prices hover around $200 per colony, compared to $150 in 2010 and $58 in 2004. Rental prices are highest from early February through mid-March during the pollination season for almonds. The almond crop in California is entirely dependent on honeybees, and every spring the crop requires more than half of the commercial bee colonies in the nation.
For apple and other tree fruit, colonies are placed when trees are in 10% to 25% bloom. For melons, cucumbers and berries, colonies are placed when 10% to 20% of flowers are blooming.
The number of standard colonies that are needed per acre varies based on the attractiveness of the crop, competition from surrounding sources of nectar and pollen, and the percentage of flowers that must produce fruit or seed to provide an economic return. Most crops are adequately pollinated by one strong hive of bees, which totals 60,000 to 80,000 bees at peak population, per acre. There are three types of members in a honeybee colony: one queen bee, infertile female workers and male bees called drones.
The annual value of honeybee pollination to U.S. agriculture is estimated at more than $15 billion, far exceeding the value of wax and honey sales.
What a Day!
Disc Flies High
The bridge over I-90 north of Albert Lea, Minn., was not high enough for this chisel plow to pass through ... or was the chisel plow too high?
If you’ve had one of those days—or caught someone else’s on film—we’d love to share it with our readers. E-mail high-resolution images to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail prints to What a Day!, Farm Journal, P.O. Box 958, Mexico, MO 65265. Photos for publication will be selected on a first-come basis.
A survey of 1,000 moms, commissioned by CommonGround, a grassroots coalition of farm women, found:
25% have never heard of genetically modified (GM) foods.
43% believe that GM food is nutritionally and chemically different than non-GM food, even though there has never been a documented case of an ecosystem disrupted or person made ill from GM food.
53% think it’s important to buy food labeled "all natural" because it’s more nutritious, even though the label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and applies only to processing of meat and egg products.
84% believe that organic food is farmed without any pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides, even though synthetic substances might be used if other substances fail to control target pests.
7 of 10 agree that farmers should be the key resource for information related to food and farming, yet only one of five moms surveyed seeks information from farmers.
- Seed Guide 2013