• Beekeeper John

    About the writer: John Kirk is an avid gamer, a writer, a student, and apparently likes writing in third person.

    I’m 22 summers old and a student at Rowan University, studying journalism. I’m from “South Jersey” for those who understand, New Jersey to those that don’t....Read more on the About Page....

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News and Such

So I wanted to do a quick update before I head off to my next class, and in this update I wanted to bring to light two things: an amazing article about honeybees remembering faces that was referred to me by a friend and the up coming meetings in the South Jersey Beekeeping Association.

I won’t summarize the article so you have the pleasure of reading it yourself, but according to a new study, honeybees use the same technique as humans do to recall faces they’re seen before. Interesting…

So head over to The New York Times and check it out!

The second thing I wanted to talk about is the New Jersey state honey show will be talking place this Friday. Judging will be held that day for all those entering.

If you would like to see all the entries on display, you may come anytime between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, February 8, 9, and 10. The entries will be packed up (for transport to the state meeting on Febuary 13) and the display cases removed to storage around noon on Thursday, February 11, 2010. So if you plan on visiting, the display area will be located at the State House Annex, 3rd Floor, 125 W. State Street, Trenton, NJ. There is limited visitor parking on Garage Level 1

The NJBA also has its winter meeting Saturday, February 13th, 2010 at the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture 103 College Farm Road North Brunswick, NJ 08902. They have a whole day planned out. If you desire the full e-mail with everything that is happening that day just leave a comment asking for it and your e-mail and I’ll forward it to you.

I’ll post again soon!


Becoming a Backyard Beekeeper: Part 1


Just in case you didn’t read the post before this one, I explained that over the next week or so I would be going through certain steps that need to be taken in order to put you on your way to becoming a backyard beekeeper.

I will go over the things that I did, and give bits of advice that I believe will help make the journey easier.

So without further hesitation:

Part 1: Finding a location, honeybee research, and beekeeping resources

  • Location, Location, Location

Check it out

The hives summer position


As you can see, the place I choose for my hive during summer provided three key things that the honeybees needed in a hive location. However, there are always more things to consider when finding a place for your hives, such as proximity to pollen and nectar sources , neighborhood restrictions, and neighbors themselves. I choose these three because I felt that they are basic and a most important factor for the hives summer survival.


  • Partial shade– The hive shouldn’t really have full on sun during the hot spring and summer months. This is because the hive needs to be kept at a constant 91-93 degrees for the brood to continue to develop healthily . Shade in the hight of summer makes it easier for the girls to keep the internal hive temperature in the low 90’s.
  • Wind Break- A wind break covering the back side of the hive helps the bees in that it provides a low wind zone around the hive so honeybees that are coming and going from the hive don’t get blow away. Referencing to the above picture again, the large pine tree and wooden fence ensure that no rogue winds will whip through the flying zone. Also, a wind break is needed for wintering your hive, the bees will fill all gaps they find with a thick coat of propolis (sometimes called bee glue) but they still need something on the outside to help them out.

  • Water Source– Finally, the girls need a source of water for the production of honey and the cooling of the hive. The bees will drink from almost anything really, in fact I once saw them on an old rug that was outside after a rain storm drinking. Not seen in the above picture is a small pond in the front of my house, a “bee bath” sort of like a bird bath but smaller with rocks in it so the girls have some where to stand, and a low lands area down the street from my house that I’m sure they used.
  • Honeybee Research

As with anything, researching the topic you’re interested in helps the actual process go a lot smoother than if you hadn’t researched at all. When I decided early last spring that I wanted to become a beekeeper the first thing I did the next weekend I was home from Rowan was to go to my local Borders bookstore and found the most helpful literature I could on the subject of beekeeping. It happened to be a Beekeeping for Dummies book written by the proprietor of Bee-Commerce.

This book was my Bible for the next few months, and it still is whenever I happen to get in a bind. Pretty much everything I know or learned about honeybees and beekeeping came from my time reading and rereading that book.

Opening up the treasure chest

A nearly empty honey super

I personally know that it’s easier for me to do almost anything when I have support from a group of friends or peers. The same goes for good beekeeping, and long term beekeeping.

Getting involved with the local beekeeping club/association will give you access to much more knowledge and conventional beekeeping wisdom than any beekeeping book could give you. You’ll be around beekeepers in all different stages of the hobby. Some might be novice beekeepers like myself, and others could be the hive inspectors for your state or local area.

Even now on the Internet and the Blogosphere (ugh I hate buzz words) there are literally a thousand points of interest when it comes to beekeeping and those who like to write about its inner workings.

I joined the local beekeeping association and though I have yet to go to an open function, I receive a newsletter contained beekeeping news for my area, and the world as a whole, as well as helpful advice from master beekeepers.

So that makes up my first section of becoming a backyard beekeeper. Any questions will be answered promptly, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ll be posting the other parts shortly

Upcoming Tutorial

This picture is from around 1900

Bees wintering in quarters cira 1900

Photo found on Flickr and taken from user Cornell University Library

You! Yes, you can Become a backyard beekeeper too!

The next few posts of mine will be dedicated to the steps it takes to start your own backyard apiary! Exciting I know! So hold on tight I’ll be posting it in a few post over the next week or so.

I’m really looking forward to walking you through the steps it takes in order to become a beekeeper and hopefully converting some of you into beekeepers yourselves!

Interesting bee news of the day from [The Daily Green]

Off The Grid Briton

Living off the grid is something that interests me wholly, so naturally when I stumbled upon this green living blog from the UK I was hooked.

The post explains one man’s quest to live off the grid for one year It explains why he thought he needed to based on advice from an unlikely source.

Mark Boyle explains his living arrangement, his work, and how he feeds himself. The one year mark is coming up for Boyle, on Nov. 29th, and he has said that he plans on living off the grid for the long term.

You can get more information or even join his community if you go and check out Mark Boyle’s The Freeconomy Community

Wintering My Hive: Part 1-Moving Shop

One of my Fall bees inspecting me.

One of my Fall bees inspecting me.

So yesterday evening, when all the girls came home from a hard, cold day of foraging for anything they could use for the coming winter, my father and myself set out to bring about the first step in helping the hive survive this winter.

As suggested by Tim Schuler, I moved the hive from where I had originally placed it, to the front of my house which faces the southern sky. The new position will promise constant sunlight once the last leaves fall off. Which is great because if we have an especially cold winter this season, my bees will need all the help I can give them.

So I made this nice little slide show up. Sorry about the sometimes blurriness of the pictures, just remember that they were taken by my mother who was just a little bit afraid of the girls, seeing as she wasn’t wearing a bee suit!

Part 2 of wintering my hive will be coming sometime in the winter when it gets colder and I need to use some hive wrap.

Enjoy another propolis picture!

Cleaning propolis off the top bars of the upper hive body. It's so much easier in the winter than it is in the summer

Cleaning propolis off the top bars of the upper hive body. It's so much easier in the winter than it is in the summer

Ancient style of beekeeping making a come back

Wonderful fresh comb

Wonderful fresh comb

Honey Trees

In Poland’s Spala forest a small team of enthusiasts aim to attract bees to the area, by practicing an ancient form of beekeeping.

The Team of Polish beekeepers cut a hole in a tree and place honeycomb in there much like the one to the left. Any wild honeybees will then be attached to that area and hopefully will make a new home there. This way of beekeeping has been “out of style” since the 19th century.

The team was taught how to harvest honey from trees by Russians from Bashkortostan, where the practice is still going strong. They have 20 new honey tree nests around their area in hopes of attracting even more.

By the way, for those of you who might use the excuse of no space for backyard beekeeping as your defense for not doing so, well no more! Omlet, a British company, has made a hive for small garden and urban beekeepers alike. Just before you start keeping bees in a city, make sure you check your local laws and by-laws about if you can even have an apiary. You don’t want to end up like the Brooklyn beekeeper that has been busted for backyard beekeeping.

Bees around the Web!

Honeybees around the web today, folks. Here are some articles that I believe better explain some of the plights and triumphs the little girls are going through in this past beekeeping year.

–Bee news–

  • Scientist are just now beginning to find a gene in honeybees that helps them combat the deadly Varroa Mite plight. [American Agriculturist]
  • I wish I could have a hive that made some honey like this! [Fay Observer]

There ya go folks enjoy. More to come soon!