I saw Daniel on Meet the Farmer last week on TV and I got his website up and contacted Dan and here he is already! I learned so much just in the first two minutes of watching the show and I know a lot of you are going to be excited to learn today too! Daniel is one of the first people called when a swarm needs removed. Daniel runs the NJBees.com website full of information about bees and you can also find out how to become trained as a beekeeper yourself.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I began beekeeping about 5 years ago. I was visiting a friend of mine’s farm, I was giving him some help with his mobile chickens. I looked across the field and there’s this chain link fence with a bunch of boxes in it and I asked him, “what’s that?”
And he said, “those are my bees.”
“Oh wow, cool, you have bees? What’s the chain link fence for it’s not gonna keep the bees in or out?”
“It’s to keep the bears out!”
“I’m like Bears … bees …. I’m sold!”
I started reading up on things, about 6 months later I purchased my first pack of bees. I do a whole bunch of bee rescue, I sell a whole bunch of honey. I average about 20 hives that I manage right now, it’s a hobby sort of gone wild.
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
I can’t claim to be an expert gardener, when I was a very young child, my grandparents lived next door to a guy who tilled his backyard and made it into a wonderful garden. I was probably maybe 3-4 years, and I wander into his backyard, and he’d show me the carrots, tomatoes and various other things he grew.
I’m very into the outdoors, I’ve been around gardeners, and gardening, I’ve done a lot of work, tangentially related to, but I’d say my earliest experiences were with Mr. Ribner in North Bergen NJ.
You’re in NY, but isn’t your thing called NJBee?
I’m born and bread in NJ, my primary home is in Teaneck, NJ
I have bees in my backyard.
Depending on the time of year, between 4 and 6 hives in my backyard
I have a number
I have a summer home in Woodridge, NY. That’s where my garden is, that’s where my big apiary is. When I started I was reluctant to keep bees in my backyard.
Teaneck is Urban, so I was nervous, I have neighbors etc. So when I first started keeping bees I kept them in Woodridge which is much more rural. I’ve got about 10 hives there, I also keep them in Eldred NY, also have bees in Manhattan right over Central Park. I keep bees on a roof in Teaneck
I’ve got bees in a number of locations. I travel back and forth, it takes about an hour and 20 min, about 80 miles. The bees make the trip. They’re limited to a 3 mile radius outside the hive.
I often move hives from one location
It’s better to start with them in Teaneck, we have an earlier spring
We have a summer dearth in NJ, and there’s still a whole bunch of flora upstate so I transition bees. Later summer into fall, I move a lot of my hives upstate because they’re still productive.
What you take the hives at night?
We wait till evenings, when I first started moving hives, I actually sealed them up, I was worried about losing a bee or two. I position the entrance so the wind won’t blow in it, I reduce the entrance, I don’t want to lock the entrance so I don’t have to worry about temperature. I move under the cover of darkness
sometimes they’ll hang out on the front porch of the pickup, once you start moving the van they go inside the hive. As long they are 3 miles away they’re not gonna return to the original location.
Then do they stay in Woodridge thru the winter?
We always try to stay, a responsible bee keeper always respects what they call bee law. I try to stay within bee law, in NJ they don’t have bee law, but they have recommended practices. In Teaneck, I’m only on a 200×200 property. I want to stay within the number of 6-7 hives. I always make sure that I’m at that number because bees will overwinter a little better in Teaneck.
The remainder of my bees
In my area, to make it through the winter, they need 80lbs of honey
I make sure they are chock full of honey going into winter, I feed them fondant as well. The upstate hives I insulate so they have some help with the weather, I make sure I have a lot of windbreak, so the wind isn’t too challenging for them. The national average is a survival of 60-70% I generally run 80-90%. If I enter winter with 10 hives, I’ve been exiting with at least 8. So that’s a great percentage.
80lbs of honey per hive?
Per hive. Right now, the bees are at their highest numbers. The queen is starting to slow down. So my hives, have about 60-80k bees per hive, depending on the species, that number will drop. I have feral bees, I rescued the bees from the wild, or they’re children of bees I rescued from the wild.
Italian bees go through their winter clusters
They’re a little larger then some other varieties of honey bees.
They’re numbers will drop to about 20k. Now they need those 20,000 bees to care for and insulate and warm the queens. Those 20k bees will need food and their food source is the honey they collect. The average 20k bees in my area with the length of my winter, will need about 80lbs of honey.
I don’t sit there
average Langstrom hives, 2 deeps if they’re heavy, if your bees collect enough honey will be about 80 lbs. So if they fill more boxes, we can take those. We always leave those first two boxes to fill up with honey.
How do you know when the hive is full of honey?
When you start, generally, 90% of people out there are using Langstrom hives.
Langstrom was a beekeeper who discovered bee space, which leaves an 1/8 inch and that separation, the bees won’t builds birkhome. By building modular hives.
So you can build so you can manipulate the frames. You start with one box, 8 to 10 frames, once they start to fill those their developing babies and pollen. then you add a second box.
Once that second box is full, then you start adding the honey supers, because those 2 boxes are what they need to get through the winter. The honey supers is what you can harvest. So it’s easy for me to figure out if I can harvest honey. I go pop open the hive. If they only have 2 boxes, there’s nothing for me to harvest. If they have 3, I check the condition of box #1 & #2. If it doesn’t look good.
I have a way to encourage the bees to move the honey
in between box #1 and box#3 and bring it down
How often do you check the hives?
Most people are very passionate, about the way they do beekeeping. If you ask a beekeeper they are ver insistent: This is the only way you can do it!
And the bee keeper will tell you, I
one of the major different approach is do you want a very hands on approach or the other hand is a hand’s off approach.,
some would say you check the bees once a week.
The only way, hands off, leave the bees alone, don’t bother them.
Each school of thought will t
At the Hive Entrance
if your not constantly monitoring, you have a very good chance of disease and also
failing queens, you’ll end up losing the whole hive. I take an approach that is a balance between the 2.
when you first start. I recommend starting with 2 hives, if you start with 2 hives, you should figure spring into a summer an hour a week, maybe a little more. Once summer gets going you can cut that to an hour every two weeks, you’re gonna visit them more then you have to.
It’s the type of thing if you take to bee keeping, it becomes a passion and you end up visiting more then you need to.
that I’m usually getting a quick look once a week.
What are you looking for when you go in there
Looking for pests, there a couple of pests that affect the hives. One is a a small hive beetle and a moth, verroa mites, a huge problem and probably contributing to colony collapse disorder
A good pattern of brood
see that she’s laying well, there’s enough brood there. Want to make sure they have enough room, if they need more space, they’re gonna swarm.
once they swarm and then
I think he usually goes kinda towards dark? Is that right around sunset? (Mike said he checks his bees between 10am-6pm on a sunny day with no wind)
You’re bees are returning
Don’t want to disturb them at night
so they sort of get frazzled if you bother them
I like to check early afternoon
so I avoid the foraging bees so your population is lower and your disturbing fewer bees.
I try to get there in the afternoon
I had somebody wanted to visit my hives so this morning at 9 o’clock we were cracking open hives.
convenience as long as it’s light out.
Let’s talk about Colony collapse and difference of honey bees
loss of feral and managed hives
Feral hives are
there are no indigenous
brought here to use for pollinating crops, or collecting honey. But many escaped into the wild and established themselves.
Feral colonies are very important, especially when there were
Why are bees so important
it’s a numbers game
there are other flying insects that pollinate, and there are other bees that pollinate, but the shear numbers make them excellent pollinators.
50k bees in a hive
many thousands of bees, 10-15-20k bees are out there pollinating, so their numbers make them super pollinators.
these pollinators have been disappearing
managed bees difficult
people went into winter with 20-30 hives, and after winter only left with 5-6
your set back all that time, and all that work to get them ready. Most bees don’t make honey in year one, spending that first year making that 80lbs and growing out the combs. So Colony Collapse Disorder and General loss of bees
huge huge concern
I don’t care for honey
it’s far greater then honey
almond, apples, peaches, pears
Almonds are 100%
we’d have far less fruits and vegetables, had we not had our pollinators. They’re disappearing at alarming numbers. And the big questions is
sprayed onto plants, generally on plants that don’t pollinate
sprayed on as a powder, and the bees pick it up thinking it polling, and they bring it back to the hive, and
feed insecticides to developing
Neonicatoids pesticides is only one of the problems
NeonicatoidsAnother problem is Loss of habitat
Bees used to have this wonderful forage
today our parks, half are astroturf, where they used to be open field with clover and
we’ve sterilized our landscape
we’ve gone to farming on such a large scale, where I gave you the example of the almond crop. they import 10s of thousands of beehives
transported to California, in early spring to pollinate our Almonds
movement of our bees, also means movement of pests
we have a proliferation of pests that have been moved by migratory bee keepers. Also when you put bees in a single flora source
what happens after the bloom you have basically a desert. basically like starving them
mono cultures often encourage that
feast or famine
not necessarily a great source of nutrition for our bees. So all of these things together, it’s not a single thing, its a combination
we have to look very aggressively what are we gonna do to stem the tide? One of the things we need to do is be planning things that are bee friendly
flora multiple flora
use of pesticides
alternative use of pesticides
if a beekeeper can be notified I can lock down my bees.
I can basically blanket my beehives so my bees can’t fly. I can give them 24 hours where they’re not gonna be leaving.
Fortunately NJ just passed a law
drafting a law to protect. But certainly private individuals have to do their part.
My husband wants to ask the neighbors to notify us if they’re gonna spray.
You can put a wet blanket over your hives
You can close you entrances
Bees have a hard time finding their way back.
if you blanket your bees and they will land on the blanket, and they won’t leave, generally they’ll just hang out there. They can still scent the pheromone, some might make their way to the bottom
Do you want a blanket that goes all the way to the ground and will a sheet work?
A sheet works great, just make sure you keep it wet!
Tomatoes are not particularly good for honeybees, they’re great for bumble bees, but honeybees don’t really don’t benefit from that.
I have a whole section for bee forage that I paint. I have bees visiting my bean plants regularly.
Squash is visited more by bumble bees, more then honey bees.
I was just asking my husband that, because my goal was to plant an enormous amount of sunflowers and it seems like the bumble bees like them more, I don’t know where they are coming from.
You can buy bumble bee hives,
they’re numbers are not conducive for harvesting honey.
they are indigenous to the us You can buy bumble bees. They’re generally used by tomato gardeners
bumblebees vibrate at the perfect tone to release the pollen inside the tomato plant
The bumble vibrates at just the right frequency, pollen jumps off the tomato and when she flies over to the next tomato plant she pollinates one tomato plant to the other. I’m not sure but sunflowers might be one of those.
some plants based on the
Sage is a great herb, mint is a fantastic a lot of what we
goldenrod is in bloom. a whole bunch of fields that are not being used, that are loaded with goldenrod.
blueberries is a great crop, I get a whole bunch of blueberry honey.
most of the honey we call wildflower honey
I’m not specific, I’m not careful, when I put and take off my boxes.
I get a nice mixture of both vegetable blossom as well as tree blossom.
When I found this bee keeper years ago, he wouldn’t give us bees because he said we weren’t close enough to water.
if you’re in a desert you certainly would want to consider providing water close to your bees.
the most important reason to
bees are going to look for the closest water source, if your closest water source is your neighbors pool, you’re not gonna make a good neighbor.
I mentioned about good bee-keeping practices of NJ.
One of the things that they require is that you keep a close water source. The reason is you don’t want your bees foraging, that ‘s on your neighbor’s property.
they’re gonna look for the closest source of water. They orient themselves above the tree-line. They spread out in a 3 mile radius
Don’t have to worry about your neighbors flowers are going to be visited
If you are in an area where you don’t have a lot of neighbors. In upstate NY I have a lake near my property, so I just let my bees go there by themselves, the lake is closer then any of my neighbors.
you need a local water source.
if you’re in a desert your bees are going to need water, and you better provide it for them. As long as it’s a short flight
What’s a short flight? 100 yards, 1000 yards?
The closer the better. Probably within an 1/8 mile.
Our neighbors had a creek.
I have a friend who had property, there’s a creek along the side of the road
You don’t want a water source where they’re gonna drown. If you put out a bucket of water, the bees are gonna drown, unless it’s filled with rocks.
A pond or a creek
A bird feeder works really good. A bird feeder with rocks.
You can use a regular feeder, and use it just as a water feeder. You can fill a frame feeder and put it in the hive once
queen, worker, drone, life cycle how long do bees live,
How long do bees live?
Worker bees live 6 weeks
queen up to 6 years,
drones live 6 weeks, the interesting things about bees, winter bees live considerably longer, they live 6 months. Basically genetically
bees born now, will live 6 months, bees born in the summer will live 6 weeks. The other thing I talk about is bees regulation of temperature in the hive.
keep it at 90
waggle dance and how they communicate
bee swarms the way the mega organism reproduces and the bees leave as a unit.
I talk about rescue, how bees end up in people’s homes.
Casts of bees
Drones, that the men don’t sting.
Everybody in the hive, are really females, people sort of get a kick out of that.
Tell me about the waggle dance? What’s the waggle dance?
Well the waggle dance is one of the ways bees communicate, a big majority of the way bees communicate is through pheromones. Bees have many different jobs in the hive, and they will release a unique smell based on the job they do.
Queen will have their own smell,
as long as the
guard bees have their own pheromone,
foraging bees are generally older bees
started life inside the hive then they go out and collect nectar.
Let’s say one of the bees returns from her trip
travels from her patch,
found a wonderful patch of clover sector and wants to tell the other bees. She’ll release that pheromone and they will collect around her
she will position herself based on the position of the sun. She’ll do a dance in figure 8s
she sort of waggles on how she moves, based on her movement, just her movement, she doesn’t have to go back and show them, they can based just on her dance find the exact location.
How does she do that?...