“There has been a lot of media attention about
the plight of the honeybee,” says Schuler. “People
read about it, they hear about it, it is something
they can do in their backyard.”
One of Schuler’s main roles as state apiarist
is making sure New Jersey bees stay healthy. To
that end, he travels the state advising hobbyists
and commercial beekeepers on maintaining hive
health. He insists on one thing: All hives in New
Jersey must be registered with the state Depart-
ment of Agriculture.
“There’s a tremendous amount of people who
The experts say it’s relatively easy to get started as a
get involved in beekeeping who don’t register
their locations. They think that because they have
one hive in their backyard, it is not necessary,”
says Schuler, adding that this oversight is usually
unintentional. “Even if you have one hive in your
yard, if it becomes diseased, it can spread to other
beekeepers within a two- to three-mile radius of
Honeybees live in colonies of up to ;;,;;; bees.
Colonies have one queen bee and as many as ;;;
backyard beekeeper. Once you do, you’ll be able to bottle
your own delicious honey; the stu; will keep indefinitely.
Many hobbyists also sell their honey at farmers’ markets
to recoup costs. To get started, state apiarist Tim Schuler
recommends these steps:
;;;;;;;;;;. Schuler recommends aphis.usda.gov as a great source of information about the hobby.
;;;;;; ; ;;;;. Sign up with your local chapter of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association (NJBA). Ten
branches operate throughout the state. Membership is
$25. Information can be found at njbeekeepers.org.
;;;;;; ; ;;;;;;;;;; ;;;;;. The NJBA chapters hold local classes to help beekeepers understand how to
maintain healthy hives and succeed at beekeeping.
;;;;; ;;;; ;;;;;;;;. Several Jersey retailers specialize in beekeeping supplies, including Stiles Apiaries in
Fords, S&F Honey Farm in Flemington and Harvey’s Honey
in Monroeville. Supplies can also be purchased online.
Schuler estimates that getting started costs about $400.
;;;;;;;;;; ;;;; ;;;;;. Registering hives with the state Department of Agriculture is critical to hive health.
Once a hive is registered, Schuler can visit, assess potential
problems and create a plan of action to protect other local
;;;;;; ;;;! By keeping hives, beekeepers are contrib- uting to a stable honeybee population in the Garden
happen. Even if you are enrolled
in a roadside-assistance
plan, you should consider
some simple precautions.
To begin, have your spare
tire checked periodically
for air, and make sure the
correct jacking equipment
is accessible in your trunk.
You might even want to
practice changing a tire in
your driveway. Make sure
your owner’s manual is in
the glove box, and acquaint
yourself with each warning
symbol on your dashboard.
A flashlight with backup
batteries is a must. A high-watt headlamp is best; it allows you to work hands-free
under the hood or while
changing a tire. Keep a flare
gun (with backup flares
and instruction manual)
on hand. A wireless phone
charger or backup battery is
Before a road trip, stock
your car with a gallon jug
of water and high-calorie
protein bars. If you’re stuck
for more than six hours,
you’ll need about half a gallon of water per passenger,
especially on a hot day, or if
anyone is feeling panicked
or ill. A basic first aid kit can
also come in handy. You
should carry a tool kit, or at
least an adjustable wrench
or socket set to fit multiple
bolts. A fire extinguisher
and a small, ball-peen hammer are handy; the latter
will help if you need to
break a window to escape
after an accident.
During cold weather,
be sure to carry a blanket
and winter gear like a hat
and gloves. Remember, if
your engine isn’t running,
your car’s heater won’t
work. And if you have an
older car prone to leaks,
you might want to carry
extra oil, steering and brake
to ;,;;; male drones—but the majority of bees
in a colony are female worker bees, responsible for collecting nectar and pollen from
flowering trees and plants. In New Jersey, says
Schuler, bees primarily collect their nectar
from flowering trees, shrubs and vegetative
plants. In rural portions of the state, bees can
collect nectar from crops like blueberries and
Usually, the main honey flows in New Jersey
start around the first or second week of April,
depending on the weather. The honey flows
are generally over by about July ;. Hives will
sometimes produce a fall honey flow from
late September through early October. Once
the weather turns colder, bees stop flying and
cluster in their hives.
Schuler says buying honey locally is a
source of pride for many. Some consume local honey to alleviate allergies; they want their
honey produced as close to home as possible
so that it is exposed to pollen from local plants.
“I know some beekeepers who keep bee-
hives in multiple towns and when they label
their honeys they actually put the zip code of
the town that honey came from,” says Schuler.
For River Edge’s Diane Churchill, two of
the appealing aspects of the hobby are the af-fordability and the ease of maintaining hives.
A full beekeeping setup runs a new beekeeper
;;;; to ;;;;, including the clothing, the cost
of the hives, a nucleus (a hive portion containing a queen and enough other bees to get
started) and a smoker. Beekeeping can take
as little as one hour of maintenance per week,
with little work in the winter when the bees
are clustered in their hives. Removing the
honey from the hives requires an extractor;
most beginners can borrow one from others
in the hobby, who also can provide guidance
on extracting and bottling.
Churchill started keeping bees alongside
her father, Walter, when she was a young girl,
but over the years, their bees died o;. Seven
or eight years ago, the two got back into beekeeping, in part to support the health of the
While Churchill has a long history with bee-
keeping, Mortimer has only been at it since
;;;;. Lack of experience, he says, shouldn’t de-
ter anyone interested in becoming a beekeeper.
“For years before I did it, I thought it would
be really cool, and I never was around a bee-
hive, ever,” says Mortimer, “But something
just drew me to it.”
Perhaps it was the buzz about this fun and
fruitful hobby. —Alyana Alfaro