• 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!

Hiatus Over

So school has started back up again and I now find myself with more idle time on my hands.

Which is great because now is the time of the season when my bees will need my help the most. As we start to move closer to spring a queen bee will begin to lay eggs that are to hatch at the beginning of the spring build up and become the bees that will help the colony into the late spring. With all the activity, it goes without saying that the colony will start increasing their consumption of honey, at times tripling their former rate of consumption.

This means that hives will start to get lighter in weight and on warmer days, they will need to be fed in order to make it through the rest of the winter. Since it’s too cold to feed them the sugar syrup, you will need to make fondant. Fondant is sometimes called “bee candy” because it is a near solid food supplement that can be fed to the colony in cold months and help them through the winter.

In a pinch you can even open the hive, place some newspaper on the top bars of the upper deep and put some granulated sugar on top in a pile and on warm days they will use it.

In other news I went to the South Jersey Beekeeping Association’s meeting this past Saturday. The guest speakers were the talented owners of Herbertsville Honey, Alf and Ceil Berg. They gave an amazing hands on demonstration of the making of their award-winning soaps and body creams.

In all it was a good weekend to be a young and excited beekeeper. Let me know how your hives are doing after feeding them some of that fondant.

Happy beekeeping!

Interview with Tim Schuler, NJ State Apiary Inspector

Backyard Buzz Exclusive Interview: New Jersey State Apiary inspector Tim Schuler

Bees in a Hole

Inside of one of Tim Schuler's hives.

As state apiary inspector, Tim Schuler’s job is to aid New Jersey’s beekeeping industry by inspecting hives for signs of disease or parasites, ensure that colonies being brought into New Jersey from other states for pollination work on farms do not bring disease or parasites into the state, and works with the New Jersey education systems to help encourage more interest and knowledge in the realm of honeybees. A 23-year veteran of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture Schuler was named state inspector in the summer of 2007, and has been working hard on the job ever since.

While the interview was taking place Tim and myself were in the process of getting his hives ready before he left the area for a vacation. Two really interesting parts of the interview was when we talked about the future of CCD and the number of commercial beekeepers versus the growing number of hobbyist beekeepers in NJ.


Tractors ready to be used for the process of making the food we enjoy everyday.


Backyard Buzz: Have you, in your experience, noticed a shift from commercial beekeeping in NJ to a growing number of hobbyist, or is it the total opposite where there happens to be a decline in the hobbyist section of beekeeping?

Tim Schuler: Well, there are more colony’s in New Jersey that are managed by commercial beekeepers, but there has been a huge increase of backyard beekeepers, or hobbyist beekeepers if you will, within the last 4 years. It all started back in 2006 with the colony collapse disorder and all the hype and the media about honeybee colonies dying off. With CCD in 2006 there was a huge amount of people who wanted to do something for the environment and to help out the plighted honeybee. It’s not expensive to do it, and they can do it in their own backyard.

Palleted Hives 2

The Hives before we loaded them on the flatbed truck

BB: What bit of advice, that you think is indispensable, would you give to backyard beekeepers, or those who are on the fence about becoming a beekeeper?

TS: I highly recommend that people thinking about becoming a beekeeper to take a beginner’s beekeepers course, and that’s not just because I teach one. I find people who just can’t even communicate with me because they don’t even know the terminology. And it’s very hard for me being in the position of state apiarist to help them if they don’t even know what I’m talking about. An introductory or a beginner beekeeper course gives them the tools, they’ll understand the lingo, they’ll know how to open a hive, what a smoker is, and you know that isn’t the end of their education, that is only the beginning. They’ve got to go even further than that in order to master the craft.

BB: What do you think is the future of CCD and do you think that we as beekeepers will ever find the root to the problem?

TS: There are a lot of researchers looking for the problem whether they find it or not, well I don’t know. By definition a disorder isn’t necessarily caused by just one thing, it’s a multitude. So, I’ve heard of some researchers and writers call it the perfect storm in that year [2006] and in those operations. Where everything that could have went wrong, went wrong at the same time. I don’t know if they could even duplicate all the causes the same way. The bottom line is that it has been good for beekeeping as a whole because it has got a lot of people interested in beekeeping and brought a lot of research dollars into beekeeping.

Higher Pallets

This was the method we used to move all 5 pallets we collected that evening.

Some of the main cause’s of CCD are lack of forage, you see a lawn like that? [Schuler points at a perfect looking lawn across the street] There is not one weed in it, you know the perfect, manicured, Egg Harbor Township lawn is like a desert to a pollinating insect. We spend money on fertilizer that pollutes the water and systemic pesticides, all of that is bad all the way around. So when we use these pesticides the honeybees are bringing them back to the hive. The last thing that could be stressing the bees into CCD is a series of diseases and virus’. All three of those is being sought out by researchers, as to how they could cause the problem.

Smoking The Hives 2

Since there was about 6 hives about to be moved, it was a good idea to smoke them.

BB: Personally, where would you like to see beekeeping not just in NJ but in the country as a whole, go in the future?

TS: There is a mindset John, that commercial beekeepers are bad for beekeeping, and yet as I go around the state of New Jersey looking for disease and parasites, where I find the biggest problem is in backyard beekeepers hives. Because they are ignorant and they don’t know the right way to protect against disease. They think they are the best thing for beekeeping, and the commercial guy is the worst thing, but the commercial guy has the cleanest outfit. I think there is room for everyone, without commercial beekeeping we won’t be able to afford food. I think that there is no better place to get honey then the guy that is spinning it out by hand in his kitchen, and he harvested it right from his backyard and you happen to live next to him.


The truck in the lower right corner is a flat bed which we used to haul the hives to their wintering beeyard

I’d like to keep seeing it [beekeeping] grow, but for NJ I would like to see beekeepers be able to lease publicly owned land and put a bee yard on it. Because honeybees are very good for the environment as a whole, and they pollinate plants and befit wildlife and I’d love to see that happen. I’d love to see our beekeepers organization grow. I’d love to see enough funding to see another full time bee inspector work with me. And I’d love to see answers as to why colonies are having difficultys. Not just honeybees, but even native pollinators, they are having problems also. I’d like to see public awareness for these issues keep growing.

Farm SunSet

The sun didn't wait for us beekeepers to finish our work. Alas, tomorrow is another day.


Overall, I had a blast with Tim yesterday and today (he had a sale booth at Pumpkin Run Car show where he had a small observation hive and sold his wares). We worked for about an hour and a half moving about 30 hives to a field in Vineland, NJ where they will winter until the spring season starts back up.

Every time I hang out with Mr. Schuler I learn bucket loads of new information and news going on in local beekeeping.

I hope you too learned a lot and become interested in beekeeping. Stay tuned for Becoming a beekeeper: part 2

New Jeresy Beekeeping Association Meeting Tomorrow

I know it’s a little late notice, but I just received word myself that tomorrow, Saturday, there will be a NJ beekeeper association meeting at 8:30 am to 3:15 pm. This is the fall meeting, which will be held at Rutgers EcoComplex, on 1200 Florence-Columbus Rd., Bordentown, NJ. There will be a guest speaker from Cornell University’s Department of Entomology. Associate Professor Nick Calderone will speak about, “Varroa Management and Control of American Foul Brood”. Both Varroa mites and American Foul Brood being two of the biggest threats to honeybee populations in the more recent years. The rest of the information can be sought out at the New Jersey Beekeeping Association website.