May Newsletter 2019

Our Upcoming Speaker

Tim Stewart of Stewart’s Apiaries, LLC hails from the little town of Dorothy in Atlantic County. Tim is a commercial beekeeper whose passion for business and bees began at the age of 11. His commercial beekeeping business takes him to the almond groves of California then back to NJ to the blueberry and cranberry crops, and then continues to watermelon and lima bean pollination. Tim will talk about the issues that face the commercial beekeeper as compared to challenges the hobbyist must deal with. Tim will delve into what is truly happening to the bees, and how the commercial beekeeper really is at the heart of our food chain.



Now is a great time to familiarize yourself with the new ECBS website, including the many documents available. Many have emailed asking for Landi’s last talk on feeding. You can find her presentation, as well as many others, under “Meeting Documents”. Member submitted articles can also be found under “Answers” with recent posts including such titles as “Discovery of RNA transfer through royal jelly”. If any member is interested in being a mentor, we are always looking and in need of more participants! With the recent legislation, it is now more important than ever to make sure your apiary is registered. The ECBS website has a direct link to the Department of Agriculture registration where you may enter your information.


-Justin Luna, Director of Communication


President’s Message

What a difference a day makes! It sure is baseball weather now. Newbees read carefully. We celebrate each and every time our bees make it to exactly now when dandelions pop up. Like anybody else I was happy to see my bees alive in Feb.  May I quote our illustrious (former) neighbor, Yogi Berra, (may he rest in peace!)? "It ain't over til its over!" I did lose a few hives since Feb. It happens. The culprit is often a natural one ... too small of a cluster from a queen who was not reproducing enough bees to flourish into Spring. I did prevent several hives from starving though. Now these hives are bursting with bees and activity.

Dandelions provide pollen and nectar for the new birth of spring. I have acres of them near my VT apiaries. I can smell my apiaries when I get within 50 yards while they are working dandelions. There will be fields painted fully yellow around May 10th. Then about two weeks later farmers are taking their first cut of hay from the same fields void of any hint of yellow. Yet, we are conditioned to believe that dandelions are a threat to our lawns in our state of NJ. Quite the opposite is true. The dandelion has a deep root. It functions to reach down to retrieve trace minerals back to the surface only to die out leaving those minerals to be utilized by grasses. We eat animals that eat those grasses. If it is not available to the plant, then it will not get into our bodies. Bees are no different.

So, to those of you who have survivor bee hives but not so active or robust bees... time may not wait for you to replace that queen. A new queen needs young bees which equates to a full complement of bees of all ages. A faltering queen is not laying enough eggs. She may become a drone layer. Go to a strong hive, take at least one frame of eggs, better if some capped brood too, to add to your weak hive, then remove that old queen replacing her with a caged queen. No caged queen to be had? Then pinch that old queen leaving her for the bees to dispose of. They will make a new queen by doing what they got to do if you gave them the fresh eggs to do it. There are drones now out there. They will find your hive just like that stray cat that howls in the dark because you have a feline in heat inside.

The race is on. Any meaningful nectar flow ends near the end of June, so super them up! Have a new nuc or package? Give them food especially if they need to make comb. This is the time to review Landi’s talk from the ECBS website on feeding. I use 25 lbs. of sugar to 2.5 gal of water (a little less if heated first). Only have one starter hive? You will still need 25 lbs. of sugar but you should get that essential oil additive for sugar syrup (available at our meetings or from Mann Lake). BTW, I prepare syrup using a big lobster boiling pot which fits 5-gals. This recipe will yield almost 5 gals of syrup. I pour it into a 5-gal bucket when cooled. I then would take smaller clean fruit juice containers to put it in using a funnel. I do it in a bathtub for easy clean up. Add that additive to cooled syrup before you bottle it into small containers.


-Michael J Frey

April Newsletter 2019

Moving Forward

I would like to take a moment and thank Patti Campbell, treasurer. She has contributed significant resources in ensuring all our members remain on the mailing list and sending notices to those at risk of expiration. If you stop receiving the monthly newsletter, without notice, please email:

If you would like to find information on upcoming meetings, past presentations, meeting minutes, bee news, or anything of note, please refer to the ECBS website. Ban Ang, 4th Vice President, deserves thanks as well, since he is constantly submitting interesting information to be posted. From podcasts, to articles, to YouTube videos, they can all be found on the website.


In the last month, we’ve had many new mentorship applicants, but there haven’t been any new mentors since the program’s launch. The only requirement to becoming a mentor is a year of experience, however the board reserves the right to reject applicants. As a mentor, or apprentice, you will receive a private newsletter and priority in annual hive inspections. Applications may be found on the ECBS website or linked here.

Tim Schuler, one of the state’s most active apiarists, has retired after 32 years of service. During those years, he worked tirelessly to advance the beekeeping industry in New Jersey, with great success. Whether you know it or not, you’ve benefited from his work and for that we should all be eternally grateful.


Unfortunately, the Board of Agriculture enacted the proposed regulations, despite protest. Thank you to those who attended the BOA meeting. This month’s speaker is Landi Simone, who will be discussing the particulars of feeding, a topic Mike Frey, President, also discusses in the president’s message below!


-Justin Luna, Director of Communication


President’s Message

I was thinking that I should just recycle an old message.  That's saying a lot because I have messages going back to 6 & 7 years ago.  I have made many mistakes since that time. I figure it's time to share some.  My calendar says it's going to be April tomorrow (as I write).  While yesterday was nice it's going to be in the 30's again tonight.


You newbees will understand next season when your first hives complete their cycle.  You will be on pins & needles just waiting to see if they are alive and vibrant.  That's exactly how we feel right now after so many years.  Seems like a miracle when we find a hive alive and vibrant.  I have said that twice now, alive & vibrant.  Wait till you find your hive is alive but the queen is spent, or they just don't seem to wake up. I checked hives cautiously in Feb.  I only put fondant on when the bees were crowded in the inner cover opening.  If I can see honey in comb, then I make a decision to come back or leave some fondant.  Never break open a hive in Feb that looks dead.  Every year I am surprised to find a vibrant colony that I had thought was a deadout. 


So, why am I writing about Feb?  Well, March did not change much.  I found myself pleating and repeating. The temps have not been kind enough to do hive reversals for my taste.  Here is where the newbees should take notes for the future.  Don't be too quick to reverse your equipment too early.  The queen and brood could be in the top of the bottom and the bottom of the top.  Switching them can cause a disaster if cold comes back.  In fact, even if the bees are in the top only, a switch puts the brood low ... perhaps too soon.  What's the rush?  Ask yourself why you need to be in a rush to switch the equipment in the first place.


Beekeepers with many hives make their reversals at one time if they can while also making splits within the same yard or to take away.  They will be equalizing hives in this process. If you have one or only a few hives, then you have time.  Keep in mind that IMHO reversals do not eliminate the swarming instinct.  It may delay it.  By the time this letter goes out the weather could have changed significantly.  Look beyond one nice day.  We will hear of swarms in late April then into May certainly.  Your location dictates this somewhat.  Every newbee gets apprehensive about the possibility of their hive swarming.  Just bee ready.


We beekeepers are sitting back getting ready for all hell to break loose.  Nothing is more enjoyable than to work on bees in early spring when the weather breaks.  It’s kind of like baseball.  There is such a thing as baseball weather too. Warning:  By the time you read my May message your honey supers should already be on.  This means that there is a lot happening between mid-April and mid-May. The main honey season in these here parts last from the onset of spring to the last week of June. 


- Michael Frey, President

March Newsletter 2019

The ECBS Website

ECBS had a website redesign some time ago, but since then we’ve welcomed many new members. I’d like to take a moment to provide you with a reference guide that links to each page and explains its function.

  • Who We Are – This includes ECBS’ mission statement, a link to the NJBA state site and Department of Agriculture apiary registration, information on the Essex County Environmental Center, and digitally enhanced historical documents.

  • Officers – A listing of all current board members and their emails.

  • Sign Up – A direct link to the NJBA Wild Apricot portal where you can manage your membership and member information.

  • Announcements – ECBS may occasionally have an event or time-sensitive information that requires more attention than normal. In addition to customary email communication, that information can also be found on this page.

  • Newsletter – The last few newsletters can always be found here.

  • Group Photos – Members may submit their photos of keeping bees for all to see. We encourage everyone to share their experiences.

  • Document Archive – All documents from the last few months can be found here, including, but not limited to: speaker presentations, minutes, newsletters, and order forms.

  • Answers – Occasionally we have a member who submits an interesting article or authors one. You may find these fascinating publications, as well as member submitted bee questions, on this page.

  • Calendar – A list of our upcoming meetings, their locations, speakers and times.

  • Concerns – If you’d like to submit feedback on how the chapter functions, this is where you may do so.

  • Mentorship – To join the mentorship program, either as a mentor or apprentice, this form must be completed.

  • Questions – Bee questions, event questions, or other general inquiries may be submitted here.

  • Short Course – This link is available to direct visitors to the next short course.

-Justin Luna, Director of Communication


Welcome to New Beekeepers!

We affectionately refer to you as newbees. You have forged through two days of classes so I hope you are ready to continue learning this most rewarding craft. This is a thinking man's hobby. OK, I write 'man' but I admit that some of our best beekeeprs are women. It is just an expression. Regardless, it truly is for thinkers. You will understand what I mean when you go to your bees with a plan someday, not far off, only to change course according to the bees.


On behalf of ECBS, WE invite you to our next meeting, Tuesday March 12th at 7 p.m. We enjoy the bees and we appreciate our club. We are here to help each other. I can say with a certainty that further involvement can only help you in managing your bees. Bee on time too. We will have pizza on hand for the start.


I want you to know that these meetings are designed for YOU! We have a wide variety of members with just as wide an interest in beekeeping. Ultimately though it is the bees that captivate our interest and time. I am certain that Landi drilled home how important it is to understand the mite problem and how to treat bees for mites. Learning is doing... so come to ask questions now. The bees actually need you!


It may sound bewildering at first since there is more to know than just about bees. We have a great resource in our club run by member, Ron Jacobs. You must meet Ron. He keeps all sorts of mite treatments available for us at cost just so we have ready access to them. This way you do not need to buy supplies for 10 or more hives when you only have just one or two. We need good beekeepers for the sake of all of our bees and we need competent beekeepers, so we reflect well on society.


We will find you assistance in the way you need it. Only you must attend and then ask. We just happen to be having a great speaker coming to this meeting. John Gaut will talk to us about raising queens. You learned that the queen is the most important bee in your colony. Allow me to be a contrarian. It is not until you see your queen as just another bee for you to be in a position to help your hive. Now think! The first most difficult concept for a new beekeeper to act on is an immediate decision to replace their queen. How does one know?


Besides, raising queens is a fascinating aspect of beekeeping. ECBS is one of, if not the, oldest club in NJ. Don't let the name Essex County limit your horizons. We are home to many out of county members and some of the best beekeepers in the entire state. Some members hold dual club affiliations too. One can join any club then add additional clubs for $8. Looking forward to meeting you on March 12th in Garibaldi Hall, 7 pm.


- Michael Frey, President

February Newsletter 2019

President’s Message

This will be a reflective message of my 20-year learning curve. We have no meeting this month so let's have some fun. As I write, everyone is looking forward to temps hitting 50F again following these recent horrific wind and minus chills. Why can't it just remain a steady temperature? I keep bees in VT and NJ. Fluctuating temps is a bigger problem here in NJ.

Now through February is when you should peek under the telescoping lid to see if you see bees or not. If the bees are clustered near the inner cover opening, then it is a sure sign that they need to be fed on top*. The bees are either above their food stock or at the end of it. Ask any questions about this through our Newbee Liaisons. Every beekeeper has lost bees due to starvation at some time or other. It is an avoidable mistake. Late March into early April is when most bees die of starvation, my experience. Their population growth can outstrip their stores quickly. Nothing is more disappointing than to open a hive too late in spring only to find it full of healthy looking albeit dead, starved bees.

How about that message given by Grant Stiles a few weeks ago? I wish I heard this way back when. Allow me to recap what he said and did not say. He answered the one big dilemma every new beekeeper has and continues to have. Let's face it! We never stop being concerned with swarming. Our spring practice is hell bent on reversing hives, even multiple times, just to prevent swarming. How many hours did I spend carefully reversing and equaling out the hive or shuffling them back down ... only to lose out to nature later? I almost don't even bother now.

Oh? Grant's talk wasn't about swarming? But he did detail how he manages his bees in spring for the season. His method happens to minimize the swarming instinct. This idea is transferable to the backyarder. If you are lucky enough to have a hive that survives the winter into spring, then you will have a hive that WILL swarm late May or June. I don't care how many reversals or somersaults you do; a healthy hive will swarm.

The method is simply to make a split. Any backyarder has time for this. Did you notice he put the new queen on top of the frames of the split? It won't take the bees long to figure out that they either don't have a queen below or they still do. This can be recognized by their behavior toward this new queen. I give the bees an hour or more before I put the new caged queen on top. I have waited up to 3 days or more before opening the sugar plug side of the cage to the bees. Reason: I do examine the bees behavior toward the new queen. Yes, there can be anomalies. Too long of a tangent to go into here.

What did I just write? Make a split of your hive which will result in one half needing a queen. I winter with a medium and a deep. No problem... I will give (apply) a new deep to the medium half or vice versa. You can mix / match frames too in the appropriate box. When you do this, it will force you to buy a new queen in advance or you can let them make their own if late enough into spring. The key is not to be afraid. Embrace It! There are lots of ways to enjoy bees besides making honey. You will learn soon enough how difficult it is to make honey in NJ from year to year. Don't let honey be your only measuring stick. You will never forget the first time you dispatched your live queen to improve the hive. Bee aware that I am finding many queens to survive into spring only to be infertile well before any natural supersedure can occur.

At meetings I encourage all to ask questions even though it may not be pertinent to the exact topic discussed. Somebody will know the answer, and everybody is there to help. Every new beekeeper will come to grips with the need to have more bee boxes and frames for their one or two hives. There is no time to place an order when the emergent need arises. Yes, one can improvise in a pinch.

*feeding bees in winter. I use baker’s fondant. I get it from Grant (hint). I use a 2" homemade spacer, but you can use anything you have. I cut slices of fondant putting them next to the opening on top of the inner cover. The moisture from the bees will soften it. I only use it when they need it. Don't encourage your bees to go high otherwise. There are other methods. One box of fondant is enough for at least 4 or more hives. It does last for years or use it for baking a cake.

Don't have a 2" spacer? Improvise then! If you use an empty medium, as an example, you must keep an eye open, so the bees do not decide to move up into it, then build comb. Do you want to hear my story of using an empty deep in Fall as a spacer for a formic acid pad? The pads used to be larger back then. You are not a beekeeper until you have horror stories of your own to share! It happens! It's all in the learning curve.

-Mike Frey

January Newsletter 2019

During Our Last Meeting

Thank you to everyone who attended the holiday party! It was an absolute joy to celebrate the closing of another fantastic year of beekeeping in the company of such enthusiastic people! Landi’s talk on preparing for the honey show, as well as all previous presentations, are always available on the new ECBS website under “Document Archive”.

A new year of beekeeping means a new year of dues! As part of our shift to online renewal, I’ve created and attached a guide on how to renew your membership online. You may also use this guide to update your contact information, email, and primary chapter affiliation. Please check to make sure your membership is still valid. Anyone who has not renewed within 60 days will receive a notice before being removed from the mailing list.

Next week, mentors and apprentices will receive a notice detailing who they’ve been assigned to and accompanying contact information. All participants will also receive monthly emails to ensure the satisfaction of all active members. If, at any point, you are dissatisfied, would like a reassignment, desire to leave the program or simply provide input, feel free to reach out to Jean and Lisa. They are both responsive and helpful members who are committed to ensuring the success of mentors and apprentices!

There is no meeting for February as Essex will be holding its short course and NJBA will be holding the annual winter meeting. You may view all upcoming meetings, their locations, and time on the new ECBS website under “Calendar”. At our next meeting, Grant will be speaking on “Maximizing Honey Production”. I look forward to seeing you all there and hearing another informative presentation from Grant.

-Justin Luna


Mandatory Apiary Registration

Please be aware that, by law all overwintered colonies must be registered with the NJ Department of Agriculture. There are many reasons for doing this, but the primary one is disease control. If there is an outbreak of American Foulbrood, another contagious disease, or an entirely new pest, the State Apiarist will be able to track the disease and alert beekeepers who may be at risk. The information is only accessible to the State Apiarist and never shared. You may, elect to cross-register with the Department of Environmental Protection to be notified of pesticide spraying in your area that might impact your bees. This is strictly optional. Be aware that the DEP list of registered bee yards is available online to the general public. This list is used by licensed pesticide applicators, so they may notify beekeepers with apiaries within three miles of a scheduled chemical application. The link to register, renew, or edit is posted below as well as on the new ECBS website under “Apiary Registration”. Please make sure this information is current; it helps all of us NJ beekeepers maintain healthy, happy bees!


-Landi Simone

December Newsletter 2018

President’s Message

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Let the bells of the season ring in everyone's ears! We have a special holiday meeting this month at the usual time. Although this meeting is not open for the general public, we do invite all members and their immediate family. Please bring a dessert or appetizer! Our usual pizza and beverages will be available as well.

This would be a great time to engage in informal discussion on bee matters. I am sure many of you have found out that if you ask 3 beekeepers a question you will come away with 5 answers to your situation. Coincidentally I expect the State President to have sent out the agenda for the State Board meeting which is scheduled to take place on the Friday after our meeting. Perhaps there may be some items of interest for all concerned.

Please congratulate our own Justin Luna for rolling out with an updated Website. Our ECBS Board overwhelmingly accepted his proposal recently and the results of his efforts can now be seen. This is the time to remember that this is your club. We are always accepting recommendations and future volunteers for service in any capacity. Do not hold back!

-Michael J Frey


ECBS Meeting Overview – 11/13/18

The ECBS Board of Directors met prior to the general meeting on November 13, 2018. We are truly fortunate that two members of our Society are eager to serve in the all-important position of Beekeepers Liaison, whose job is to coordinate and match experienced beekeepers who want to serve as mentors, with new beekeepers who need a helping hand in getting started and staying on top of things. We created a new Board position of Assistant Beekeeper Liaison, and Justin Luna, who sees to it that our newsletter goes out to the membership every month, is now our Director of Communications. Jean O’Day will serve as New Beekeeper Liaison, and Lisa Scordo will fill the position of Assistant New Beekeeper Liaison. Both Jean and Lisa will be actively involved in “filling the gap” between our excellent Short Course and the real-world of beekeeping, with all the many questions and issues that confront new beekeepers (and many seasoned ones too). For more information, please visit the updated website.

In order to become a mentor, you need a minimum of one year of experience. The new website has a form to be completed to apply either as a mentor or apprentice. It will be up to Jean and Lisa from there to coordinate members based on distance and needs.

Your name will be added to a list, and Lisa and Jean will assign mentors to apprentices living in the same area. We strongly recommend that if you’ve never taken a beginner’s course, you sign up for the ECBS course, which can now be accomplished through the updated ECBS website. It will give you a strong foundation and will help you become a better beekeeper, even if you have picked up some experience on your own.

We also discussed our annual holiday party, which will be held at the Garibaldi Hall on our regular meeting night of December 11, 2018. Landi Simone will be speaking on the preparation and participation in honey shows. The Society will be bringing in pizza and drinks for all to enjoy. Individual members are encouraged to bring a dish, pot-luck style, of anything they like, and/or a dessert. Festive drinks are welcome.

We had a full-house for Grant Stiles’s talk at our November meeting where he recounted his 40 years in beekeeping. We have some really great programs in the works for next year and look forward to seeing you.

-Charles M. Sporn, Secretary


Special Announcement!

Some months ago, I was given the responsibility of webmaster and faced a challenge in creating a website that was useful to ECBS members. I would like to take a minute to review its new features and how you can utilize them to become a better beekeeper and more active member within ECBS.

  • ECBS Information: Through the website you can now view the digitally scanned and enhanced historical documents, visit the NJBA site, become a member or renew membership, view current officers and their contact information, sign up for the short course, and view photos submitted by members. If you would like to submit a photo, visit the “Questions” page and click the “Upload Photos” button. These photos may be featured on the front page of the website or the public gallery.

  • Question: You may now submit questions of any nature through the website, to be addressed by our most experienced members. Once answered, both your question and response will be posted in the “Answers” section. If you’d like to enroll in our new mentorship program, simply complete the mentorship application and your information will be passed onto Jean O’Day and Lisa Scordo. To those currently enrolled, you will be assigned in the next few weeks as Jean and Lisa receive a complete list of interested mentors and apprentices. Have a suggestion? Unhappy with a program or interaction within ECBS? Complete the “Concerns” form to have those concerns and suggestions addressed by the board.

  • Newsletters: Past and future newsletters will be available through the website, in addition to all other documents utilized by ECBS, such as presentations.

  • Answers: In addition to member submitted questions, we will also be featuring articles written by our most experienced beekeepers. Currently, published is “What’s Going on with our Bees?”, “Flower Bloom Chart”, and “Rookie Mistakes”. You’ll notice there is a search bar on the “Answers” page, feel free to type what you’re looking for to see if it has already been addressed.

  • Calendar: All future meetings, with time, location, speaker, and date will be posted.

I hope you enjoy utilizing these new tools, as the board, and myself, have invested a considerable amount of time into ensuring our members all have a positive experience at ECBS. We will review the website and its features at the next meeting, just to make sure everyone understands its new functions and redesign. Until then, feel free to submit questions and poke around. I hope to see you all at our pot-luck!

-Justin Luna

November Newsletter 2018

President’s Message

As I write this on Nov 1 it is beautiful outdoors. The bucks are running around as if they are looking for something? The bees are actually flying! And, I am still feeding my bees. It may be late but better late than not enough. If you are ever in doubt, then let the bees guide you. They stop feeding when they have enough or when it is too cold consistently. By the way, everybody has their own take on things. I never use a thin syrup. Especially in Fall, if feeding bees, they do need the sugar, but they don't need to be dehydrating the water out of nectar. I use corn syrup now but if I were to use sugar then my recipe is: heat (not boil) 2.5-gals water then add 25 lbs of sugar, stir, and let sit. Wait until the syrup has cooled before pouring into a 5-gal bucket. I would add any additive at this time (not when hot).


All mouseguards are on and all treatments are complete. If you want to vent your hive, then use a twig or something natural on the inner cover at the front of the hive. I do not vent my hives anymore unless I have a strong Italian gene hive. It is obvious. There will be moisture in cool weather and too many bees eating their stores in nice weather like this. Be careful with what I say. All my hives have screen bottom boards - even the 40 or so I have in Vermont. Bees need air, but they do not need a wind tunnel racing through the hive during the winter. Venting may be called for if your bottom is wood and you choose a very limiting mouseguard. Too much or too little of anything is to be avoided. Is anybody confused yet? That's why we have meetings! See you all there!


Newbees often think about wrapping their hives for winter. I admit that I will wrap winter nucs (5 frames on top of 5 frames) after I have huddled about 4 or so together. I use a foam board. I have a dozen started since late July with Carniolan queens. I just get aggravated at those Italian bees during the dearth, so I make splits. Winter is a good time to research about bee genetics. Most of your bees are hybrids just like us.


-Michael J Frey


Looking Forward

Grant Stiles will be presenting his talk on: “Things I’ve learned in 40 years of beekeeping”. This is a wonderful opportunity for ECBS members to ask any and all questions. Grant is also offering to bring any Mann Lake orders for member (free delivery)!  Please email Grant at before 11/09. There will also be a $10 special on medium gloves.


We will be accepting donations to support the Honey Queen Program (for travel expenses, lodging, etc.) or if you prefer, you can write your own check payable to NJBA. The checks must be sent to Charles Ilsley, NJBA Treasurer.


Don’t forget the NJBA Fall Meeting is on 11/10 at the College of New Jersey. We look forward to seeing you there and hearing from the very knowledgeable Dr. Debbie Delaney, who is the featured speaker. Dr. Delaney is an Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware and is not only a respected scientist but also a very entertaining speaker.  She recently took on the role of Academic Advisor to the EAS Master Beekeeper program, expanding her participation at the annual EAS conference, where she has been a featured speaker for many years.


The registration for the ECBS short course is now digital! If you, or a newbee, are looking to sign up, you may use the link We hope to see many new faces during the course!


-Lisa Skoglund


Important Message from Veto-Pharma (Makers of Apivar)

“Please, don’t leave the Apivar strips inside colonies over the winter. You can carefully remove them after 8 weeks of treatment. The reason we do not recommend prolonging the treatment duration is because continuous exposure of the mites to amitraz may contribute to a faster development of resistances. To keep the probability of resistance development as low as possible, we ask beekeepers to respect the label with regard to dosage and treatment duration.