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What the Farmer/Grower Should Know About Honey Bees




Division of Plant Industry -Apiculture 

8995 East Main Street 

Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-3399





 I. Outside the bee hive: 

A. Size of the hive is not always important. Counting the number of supers (boxes) does not always equal colony strength.

B. Watch for bee flight. On a warm and clear day dozens of bees should be flying in and out of the hive.


 II. Inside the bee hive: 


A. The best indicator is to view the colony population, usually with the help of the beekeeper.

B. The brood area must have developing young and adult bees.

C. Serious honey bee diseases should be controlled or eradicated.

D. Colony strength guidelines:


1. Strong single story colony (1 deep hive body)

     a. When opened, bees should cover tops of frames.

     b. 4 to 6 frames of brood.

     c. When a frame is lifted out, bees cover most frames.

2. Strong two-story colony (2 deep hive bodies)

     a. Numerous bees on top when cover is removed.

     b. When hive bodies divided, a blanket of bees should be seen.

     c. 6 to 10 frames of brood.

3. Strong three-story colony (3 deep hive bodies)

     a. 8 to 12 frames of brood in lower and central hive bodies.

     b. When cover lifted, a few bees seen on top.

     c. The top super removed, bees should blanket top of middle super.


 III. Costs:

A. Varies significantly depending on the strength and condition of the bees.

B. Rates may range from: $25.00 to $75.00/colony.


 IV. Donts to prevent stings:

A. Don’t wear hair oils or perfumes.

B. Don’t directly block the bees’ entrance to the hive.


V. Colonies per acre:

A. Generally, at least one strong colony per acre is recommended for many crops. Colony strength will determine numbers needed.

B. Visual observations within the field many times will tell the farmer/grower if honey bees are pollinating.



A. Identification of parties

     1) landowner/grower, address and phone number

     2) beekeeper, address and phone number

B. Rental price

     1) how much based on colony strength

     2) form of payment – check, cash, etc.

     3) when payment is due

C. Time of delivery of colonies

     1) dates

     2) adverse weather causing alternative dates

D. Number of colonies

E. Strength of colonies

     1) number of frames of brood

     2) number of frames of bees

F. Placement of colonies

     1) easily accessible to beekeeper

     2) away from public and animals

G. Protection of colonies from pesticides

     1) grower’s spray program

     2) when beekeeper should be notified

     3) any penally if colony damage occurs

H. Removal dates of colonies

I. Penalties or rewards for:

     1) prompt payment

     2) stronger colonies

     3) late delivery

     4) weak colonies

     5) failure to remove bees

J. Open lines of communication

     1) both parties must be easily contacted




Prepared by: Gordon Rudloff
State Apiarist
Ohio Department of Agriculture