We have had many people ask us how can they help us with our pollinators. There are two ways: Hive sponsorship and Habitat sponsorship. As this is being written we are still working on some items with the habitat sponsorship program. We will keep you informed.
The hive sponsorship program helps displace some of the cost of setting up a hive. The cost of a hive is over $1,500.00. This is just the setup of a hive. This does not include anything such as labor of weekly checks, feeding, IPM or any other cost of raising honey bees.
A hive is considered livestock. Each individual bee is a small, but important part of that “animal”. A grouping of hives a herd, bee yard or apiary the pasture. A new hive is a baby, as it grow and gets stronger it becomes more productive. There are also perils that need to be navigated. We will try to explain this to help you make the decision of whether or not to sponsor a hive.
In the beginning, we need to gather hive parts. If you are curious of what these parts look like you can go on line and look at on line catalogs. A few, but no means only; Dadant, Mann Lake and Blue Sky Bees. There are many, many more. Yes we have our favorite, but we are always looking for less expensive, high quality parts and equipment. A list of most of them follows:
1) Hive Boxes: We include five in the sponsorship, two deeps and three mediums. By the second year we will need more than the five. To the right is a four medium box hive set up. These are also called supers
2) Other parts: to include Inner Cover, Telescoping Cover, Bottom Board, stand (cement blocks), In-Hive Feeder (feeder), Boardman Entrance Feeder (waterer), frames and foundation just to name a few
3) Supplies: smoker, brushes, hive tool, hat and veil, suits, gloves, harvesting equipment and supplies
4) Others: lots and lots of sugar, medication,
5) Winter Prep Supplies: Winter Wrap, Metal Entrance Reducer (keeps mice out), Sugar Boards (also doubles as our upper entrance), just to name a few.
6) Honey Bees
Please note that anything listed in category three or four is not included in the hive sponsorship. We will cover those ourselves. We do not use “medication” unless it necessary for health of the hive. The weather and hive abilities dictates when and how much we feed.
Let’s go through this step by step. The following is by no means an extensive, inclusive list of events. Just a quick general over view.
We need to have the hive and in place before the bees arrive. The bees are usually ordered between January and March. They usually arrive between April and May. If they arrive after June the likeliness of them surviving dramatically decreases. If we have a choice we prefer to get our bees mid to end of May. Most frost danger is gone and there are a few more flowers blooming.
There are pros and cons as to getting packed bees vs. “nucs”. We could write a dissertation on this alone. The hive (2) boxes has to be in place, with the feeder ready to go. This is 2 deep boxes, bottom one has frames for the bees second one has the in hive feeder. All set and ready for the bees. We have to work fast when they arrive for their wellbeing.
We use what is call medium and deep eights. Boxes are either shallow, medium, or deep and hold 8 or 10 frames. Every beekeeper will tell you a different reason as to why they use what they do. Our reason is weight, we have the bad back plague that virtually every veteran has. When a deep 10 is full of honey it can weight 100-150 pounds. Yep 8 it is. We just add more boxes. It will not affect the bees in any way.
Now the fun begins. Getting the bees and their queen into their new home. Not as easy as it sounds. After the bees are in their new hive, we hope they accept it as home. Yes they could decide they don’t like and try to find another place (called absconding). This usually only takes a day or two and is rare. We do everything in our power not for this happen, but…….
Now a really dangerous thing happens. The queens goes out onto her maiden flight. If all goes right she goes out to “Drone Hill” (were the boys hang out) and find a mate. Actually several, up to 50. After mating the drone dies. This is the only time she will leave the hive. Once she gets back she stays. A few things can happen to her on this flight, bird picks her out of the sky, the drones get to rough and kill her, and many other things. If she does not make it back the hive could die. We get another queen, frames of brood from a neighboring hive (if available). All to keep the bees there and get them going.
Ok she makes it back and within a day or two she starts laying eggs. By mid-June she will be laying over 2,000 eggs a day. The eggs take 21 days to hatch. After they hatch they will live 4-6 weeks. The only exception to this is the last brood before winter and the queen. The last brood is different, kind of like the Monarch butterflies that fly south, but they don’t fly south.
All summer they are trying to produce enough honey to make it through the winter. Bees will forage up to three miles from their hive for pollen and nectar. In the early spring and late fall there is little for them. This is why we feed in the spring and the fall. To help them with that process.
We do weekly checks, for many reasons. One: to make sure they have food in the spring and fall. Two: their water jar is full during droughts. Three: do we need to add another box (more honey). Four: IPM, (integrated pest management). This is usually a deep check. Meaning we have to check all boxes. We check for different pest, disease, insect etc. As it is invasive but necessary this is done every three to four weeks. Five: Looking for the queen or at least evidence of her, this can be a deep check or quick. Six: Harvest Honey. And many other reasons as well
We are now approaching another dangerous time for the hive. Winter. We do our best to make sure they have everything they need and are as healthy as we can get them, but bad things can still happen. It is usually February or March when this happens. The queen starts to lay, but there is not enough protein to feed the eggs. The bees will literally work themselves to death trying to protect their queen and brood. We provide this food by using sugar boards and pollen patties.
What can be expected of the hive? Well year one absolutely nothing. Remember they are a new hive and are working on increasing their numbers and making honey to get them through the winter. Yes we do help them, but expect nothing. This first year is extremely harsh, we can expect a loss of up to 50% of our new hives. Even with all our efforts to help them and give them every advantage we can. Year two. They will start the spring stronger and will still be building. We could get up to 50 pounds of honey. No matter the age of the hive winters are always a dangerous time. We can expect a loss of up to 30% of our established hives every winter. Year three. Again winter, but better chance of surviving. We can expect 100-150 pounds of honey. This amount of honey is an average not a guarantee. A lot of variables play into the amount of honey a hive produces and will change from year to year. Depending on the queen we may be re-queening. This is not always a given but is usually a must after five years.
As stated above this is just a quick over view. Any questions please ask us.
How does your sponsorship help? The hive sponsorship program helps displace some of the cost of setting up a hive. This does not include anything such as labor of weekly checks, feeding, IPM or any other cost of raising honey bees. Please remember this is a onetime fee. Your sponsorship is for three years. We order in bulk which helps bring down the cost. Some places offer veterans discounts, yes we take advantage of this too. Once added together the cost is a just over $1,500.00. If we to add the feed, labor etc. the cost is well over $2,500.00. Your $700.00 will help us purchase equipment and supplies for a hive.
We will be sending you news letters on the progress of the hive you are sponsoring. I would like to say weekly, there are times of the year that may not be possible. You are the only person sponsoring that hive. So everything it produces for three year, half of it is yours. This also means that if it does not make it the loss is between you and us as well. Please be assured we do everything in our power for that not to happen. The amount of honey can very, if the right flowers are not blooming they cannot make honey. The reasons they may not be blooming is endless, including weather.
Now down to the nitty gritty. We want you to understand that there is not only rewards. There are risk as well. The well-known reward is honey. Also pollination of surrounding gardens and crops. Anything with in that three mile radius of their hive. Above we gave approximations of what to expect of your hive. But there are situations that can make that vary.
1) Weather: late frost, early frost, heat, drought, too much rain.
2) Predators: Here we mean four legged (raccoon, bear) and two legged (humans).
3) Hive Health: We do everything we can to prevent this as to being an issue
4) Others: Things we have not had a problem with yet.
Let us take each one of these one at a time:
1) Weather: We have no control over this. Mother Nature is our most temperamental employees. We work with what she gives us, and do our best. Most issues she hands us we can deal with. As long as we don’t have to much flooding, tornadoes etc. Winter is the worst time. We do everything we can, but winter kill still happens. Even the beekeepers that have been in the business for decades have this problem. We prepare our hives for this the best we can. And help all we can come spring if Mother Nature is kind, the bees can produce more than the average. We hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
2) Predators: We place our hives on blocks. This keeps most of the predators away. Currently we do not have bear, but if that changes putting fencing up in advance is the best way. The worst is humans. We do not put our hive easily accessible (near roads). We also keep the number of hives in a hive yard low, so the temptation is low. I will say as of this time it is not to much of a problem in our area.
3) Hive Health: This is why we do weekly checks from March to November. Anything we see or detect, we can take care of immediately. Also making sure they have enough food and winter protection.
4) Others: We are dealing with mini livestock and Mother Nature. Something unexpected seems to come up. We do our best.
Please note as bees forage over long distances (3 miles). Organic honey is rare, not imposable. If you see honey labeled organic ask questions. We do everything in our power to limit exposure, but we cannot control everything. We raise our bees sustainable.
The worst thing that can happen is hive death. (We have a better then industry average of survival). This usually happens in the winter. They can starve to death. Even inches from food they can still starve. Temperatures. Too cold, too warm. All can happen and the most dangerous winter is their first. First winter is a 50/50 chance of survival. After that it is 30/70 death/survival rate. This is an industry standard, we do not want to scare you away, we want you to understand there are risks.
Are you still wanting to sponsor a hive?
While every season is different depending on the weather and myriad other factors, our goal is to provide you with best value possible -- more often than not, the value of sponsorship is greater than if you were to buy the same honey at farmer's market prices.
But there is a factor of ‘shared risk’ involved. Sometimes the growing season isn’t as kind and unforeseen disasters can take place, such as hail storms. If that is too much of an unknown for you, you can purchase our fresh raw Michigan Honey still be supportive.
Buying and growing food locally is a boost to your local economy as well: by buying from local farmers and growers, and giving our own homegrown food surplus to food banks or shelters, we can be part of a complete community solution
Please note your sponsorship will begin only upon delivery of your bees. Not before. We will order all equipment and supplies upon receiving your full payment. Bees are only delivered in April and May. If we do not receive your payment before 1st February we cannot guarantee getting your bees this year. May have to get them next year
There will be two pick up times, you will receive half of your hives honey at each pick up. These will be determined by the hive. We harvest during a “flow” this is when the bees are producing honey heavily. These flows usually occur twice a year. We let you know via the newsletters.
You can pick up your honey at the farm or a farmers market we are at (to be announced). Other arrangement can be made, there will be a delivery fee added. Please contact us about this service if you need it. Thank you
When you pick up your sponsorship honey at a farmer’s market or at our farm you will also be able to purchase additional honeys, such as infused herbal honey and creamed honeys.
If you want us to sell your share of honey. We can, no problem. We will charge a 10% handling fee. This covers the cost of bottling and other marketing expenses. Honey prices do fluctuate season to season and by area. In 2023 we sold our honey at $1.00 a ounce ($16.00 per pound). We will sell your honey at our rate, which will be in the newsletter.
We are in the process of setting up our website to accept payments but have not yet completed it. We can accept credit cards/debit cards over the phone or in person or send us a check. We use Pay Pal, Square, ZellePay and Cash App. and can accept all cards they except. Make checks out to Kusar Farms LCC. We will ask for your address, phone number and email address. This will help us contact you if you need to. Please contact us at: 989-403-8110 (Apiary’s cell phone) or email@example.com. Any questions or concern please contact us.
We will need some information from you:
1) Your email address for newsletters about your hive.
2) Your phone Number, Can you accept texting?
We like to send real time pictures if possible.
3) Your mailing address. We sometimes send surprises.
4) Signed Acknowledgement of Risk and Rewards. See below
5) And of course your sponsorship payment.
Your privacy is important to us. Your information will not be sold or shared with any one. Any questions or concern please contact us.
Acknowledgement of Risk and Rewards to Hive Sponsorship
By signing this you are agreeing to the above Sponsorship. Acknowledging that you realize the risk and rewards of this of this agreement. There is a more details explanation in the previous four pages of what to expect.
Short over view:
A. Each hive is sponsored by one person a onetime fee of $500.00
B. Your sponsorship helps on the starting of a four box hive with bees? Please remember this is a onetime fee. Your sponsorship is for three years.
C. In return you will get half of all honey produced by the hive you sponsor for the first three years.
D. The worst thing that can happen is hive death. First winter is a 50/50 chance of survival. After that it is 30/70 death/survival rate.
E. How many hive do you want to sponsor?
___________ x $700.00 = _________________
# Hives Total Amount
I have read and accepted the conditions as stated above.
Sponsor s signature Date
Witness signature Date
Kusar Farms agent signature Date
Return a signed copy with your payment to:
Kusar Farms LLC
9890 West Hyde Road
Fowler, Michigan 48835
Any questions or concern please contact us.
Please contact us at: 989-403-8110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This form must be signed and returned to Kusar Farms LLC. Please contact us for more information. (989) 403-8110.