What a bee­keeper needs

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature -

There are a few vari­ables and you can ex­pect a po­ten­tial bee­keeper to talk th­ese through with you as no site is per­fect. David Gray is a com­mer­cial bee­keeper who has thou­sands of hives. His ba­sic check­list for a landowner con­sid­er­ing a com­mer­cial bee­keep­ing ar­range­ment in­cludes: A rea­son­able-sized prop­erty, 20ha or so, or work in with your neigh­bours (see be­low); That an owner doesn’t use in­sec­ti­cides, or not while you have bees on the prop­erty; Bee­hives need to be on flat land, which for 50 hives is about 50m²; Good ve­hi­cle ac­cess to the site/s, by gates and tracks as ap­pro­pri­ate or ac­cess across pad­docks – for over-win­ter­ing sites, this needs to be all-weather ac­cess; a nearby wa­ter sup­ply; Bee­hives need to be in a sunny but shel­tered spot; Bees need food: manuka is good but so is clover and gorse. Bees col­lect nec­tar and pollen through­out the year, so a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of flow­ers is re­quired; If you have a big prob­lem with gi­ant wil­low aphid or have a lot of the tutu shrub ( Co­ri­aria ar­borea) on or near your block, chances are it’s not a good fit for bees as both make the honey un­saleable.

There is com­pe­ti­tion for good land now, so how can you make your block as ir­re­sistible as pos­si­ble to a com­mer­cial bee­keeper?

If you don’t have much land, you might con­sider get­ting to­gether with your neigh­bours – pool­ing your bee re­sources so to speak – to make all of them a more at­trac­tive bee­keep­ing propo­si­tion. Other good spots are blocks next to re­serves, a scrub or gorse block, or a dairy farm full of clover.

Manuka is a prized crop. Could you plant more? It grows fast and will be flow­er­ing in two years. The higher the manuka con­tent of your honey, the higher the rev­enue you would ex­pect.

Host­ing hives on your prop­erty can be a win­win sit­u­a­tion. You can make money from honey with­out do­ing the work, if you have the right type of land. Just pick your bee­keeper care­fully, and you will be to­tally in the clover.

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