Hives per acre, Hill Country, Texas
I am looking for information on the correct number of bee hives per acre for our area. I understand the general rule is 6 hives per application for exemption (5-20 acres). I feel that may be too many for our area based on average rainfall (24.58 inches annual, US Climate Data) and therefore available bee forage. I believe that standard was based on the Houston area, which receives closer to 50 inches of rain per year. I realize my reasoning my be fallible but that would suggest a standard closer to 3 hives per operation. If you do not have any information on our area could you possibly direct me to a good source of information for healthy hives? I am looking for scientific studies and articles to support my endevours. The information that we have found online has been greatly varied.
Thank you for your time,
Kimble County Texas bee health
The number of hives you can maintain successfully really depends more on your specific situation more than rainfall. For instance, if you live in an area with a lot of landscaping and year round flowers, you should be able to have healthier hives versus a rural, non-farmed area.
I have seven hives on 11 acres, and my hives located closer to other homes are much stronger and have always been than those located in the quieter parts of my property.
The ag exemption requirements are probably much harder to maintain and they aren't meant to be a suggestion. Probably because if it was easy to reach their requirements, everyone would do it, so the appraisers prefer it to be a little more challenging.
I always suggest, when starting out, to start with two hives. That way you can steal from one if another is weaker. Two are easy to maintain, easy to check often and aren't so overwhelming. You have five years to build up to the ag exemption requirement for your land if that is your goal, but starting out with 6 would be hard for a new beekeeper. Once you've gotten one winter under your belt with two hives, you'll know if you can handle more. You can determine this by how much honey, brood, and comb the bees produce and if you have to feed them constantly (which you will starting out), or if they seem to gather and produce enough food to keep the colony nice and large.