Locating a local beekeeper for fruit pollination

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.        

Even though Michigan has not been hit hard with CCD (compared to the loss of 25 percent of bees nationally), some beekeepers lost 50-80 percent of their bees during the overwintering process.  This might make it difficult for growers to keep their existing relationship with beekeepers. This is where pollination contract becomes useful, if done correctly. Most California almond growers have contracts in the fall the   previous year, specifying the number of colonies needed, colony strength,  delivery date and consequences of not meeting the conditions. Usually there are monetary damages for either side not to meet the contract. This way the grower can be rest assured that he or she will get the specified colonies at the right time, at the pre-specified price. The beekeeper or the provider (in California there is now a new form of business for people just to hook up beekeepers with growers) will have to rent other bees if they do not have enough the bees to meet the contract. A sample copy of a pollination contract is at http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/PDFs/Pollination_Contract.pdf

Here are the instructions for finding a beekeeper at my web site, http://cyberbee.msu.edu

  1. Type in the URL (cyberbee.msu.edu) on your browser window.
  2. Click “beebase” on the left menu
  3. You will see (421 beekeepers registered now).
  4. Click “2. For any beekeepers providing pollination services” in the “Search Information from the Databases” window.
  5. Put your mouse on the second window (area code), and change it to the method you want to search (either area code, county, last name or zip code), and type the corresponding criteria in the “for” window. For example: enter “517” here if you selected area code or “48824” if you entered zip code, etc.
  6. Then click “search”
  7. You should see information listed, including beekeepers name, address, phone # and email address and how many colonies they have.

Give them a call and you are all set. Good luck with your pollination!

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