Favorite beekeeping tools of the trade



At our February Meeting Frank Mortimer and John Gaut went beyond the basics in beekeeping gadgets and showed us their favorite beekeeping tools.
Here’s a list of their favorites, costs and where to find them:

Favorite Hive Top – English Garden Copper top allows for ventilation. Betterbee is the only company that sells this outer cover with the hole for ventilation and that’s the key. $93.95


Slatted Rack – Great for overwintering and swarm control. Allows queen to lay in lower comb and provides for clustering which can reduce swarming. Install between bottom board and brood chamber. It also conveniently fits a tray underneath for easy inspection of hive droppings. Slatted rack Mann Lake $18.25. Varroa Debris Tray Betterbee $6.95.


Favorite Hive Tool – Frame Lifter and Scraper (Italian) The best at lifting frames out of chamber. Best used two at a time. All Companies sell them, but Mann Lake has cheapest at $8.95.


Least Favorite Hand Tool – Frame grip

Hive scale- Place an eyelet on the back of bottom board. Attach luggage scale to weigh hives. Wisefield on Amazon $12.99

Must Have Mite control tool – Mite alcohol wash is a must to count mites. Available through the club at meetings. $20

Best Gloves- Economy Venter gloves. Mann Lake $17.95


Best Helper – Cloth to cover top of chamber and frames to keep bees calm while hive diving. Any dishtowel will do.

Coolest Looking – Bee Belt to hold tools. Just like Batman, every beekeeper needs a good utility belt that holds everything they need. Countryfields out of Canada $85.

Nice to have around – Use Terramycin if diagnosed with American Foulbrood by dusting top bars. Grant Stile Stiles Apiary. 732-661-0700.

Best hive mover – The Brushy Hive mover makes moving the hives easy. Make sure to strap the components together first. Brushy $75


Bucket Blanket- When honey crystalizes the Betterbee bucket blanket does the trick.


Handy – Bucket bench allows you to rest a pail in the Bucket Bench to allow honey to drain out into another bucket while you do other tasks.


Feb. 17 Meeting – Gagdets


This month we go beyond the basics of hive tool and smoker with Frank Mortimer and John Gaut who will show us their favorite beekeeping gadgets. From the hive mover to quiet boxes to Italian hive tools we will have a show and tell on the coolest tools of the trade.
Our meetings are always the third Friday of every month, beginning at 7:30 pm. We meet at Ramapo College 505 Ramapo Valley Road Mahwah, NJ in the Anisfield School of Business, Room 135S.

Nuc orders 2017


The club will again bee bringing in nucs from Grant Stiles. Each nuc is $160. You can reserve yours with a $60 per nuc non-refundable deposit.
There are only a limited number of nucs available, and when they’re gone, they’re gone, so please reserve yours early.
Please see or contact Bob Jenkins at bobrita@usa.net or bring a check to the Feb. 17 meeting to reserve your nuc today!
Members need to be up to date on their dues to place an order. The nucs will be delivered to Ramapo College sometime around April 19. Purchasers must be available to pick up their nuc that night. Exact date will be announced in April.

One of our own featured in magazine – Leigh Lydecker


By Jaimie Julia Winters
He’s 91 and one of Northeast NJ Beekeepers Association’s most active members. Leigh Lydecker was also just featured in Bergen County’s magazine “Autumn Years” in a five-page spread. The article “What a Honey of a Hobby!” takes readers through Lydecker’s initial interest into beekeeping as a Boy Scout to his retirement when he became “serious” about the hobby at the age of 75. He now maintains four hives in Oakland, which he proudly says produced 120 pounds of honey this year.
He credits the Northeast NJ Beekeepers Association as his first smart move in re-entering the world of beekeeping. (The article also features a sidebar on the club).
Lydecker says much has changed over the years when beekeepers didn’t have to deal with Colony Collapse Disorder and varroa mites, and he credits the club for educating him on how to deal with the plights.
He advises all beekeepers to stay educated by attending meeting, reading all that you can and attending workshops such as the one offered by Rutgers to keep up to date on the issues and challenges surrounding beekeeping. Lydecker also stays physically fit, and even at his age can lift those 50-pound honey supers.
Another retiree and newbee featured in the sidebar is Jim LaConte, 70, another active member. His first move was also to attend a Northeast NJ Beekeeping meeting he says. He left that meeting with a mentor, John Gaut, who has been with Conte along his journey into beekeeping.
To read the full article Click here

Nov. 18 meeting – Dr. Tom Seeley biologist and Honeybee Democracy Author


Tired of the elections? Well find out how the bees do it. On Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. the Northeast New Jersey Beekeepers Association welcomes Dr. Tom Seeley, professor in Biology, in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY and the author of Honeybee Democracy.
His scientific work has primarily focused on understanding the phenomenon of swarm intelligence (SI): the solving of cognitive problems by a group of individuals who pool their knowledge and process it through social interactions. It has long been recognized that a group of animals, relative to a solitary individual, can do such things as capture large prey more easily and counter predators more effectively. More recently it has been realized that a group of animals, with the right organization, can also solve cognitive problems with an ability that far exceeds the cognitive ability of any single animal, said Seeley.
Since 1995, Seeley has concentrated on figuring out how a swarm of honey bees chooses a new home. This problem arises when a colony reproduces and the old queen bee and some ten thousand worker bees leave the parental hive to produce a daughter colony. The emigrating bees settle on a tree branch in a beard-like cluster and then hang out there together for several days. During this time, these homeless insects do something truly amazing: they hold a democratic debate to choose their new living quarters. Exactly how they do so is reviewed in his book Honeybee Democracy.
According to Seeley, the analyses of collective decision-making by honeybee colonies indicate that a group will possess a high level of SI if among the group’s members there is:
1) diversity of knowledge about the available options,
2) open and honest sharing of information about the options,
3) independence in the members’ evaluations of the options,
4) unbiased aggregation of the members’ opinions on the options, and
5) leadership that fosters but does not dominate the discussion.
At present, his main research interest is in the area of conservation biology: determining how honey bee colonies living in the wild are able to survive without being treated with pesticides for controlling a deadly ectoparasitic mite, Varroa destructor. Understanding how feral honey bee accomplish this will help beekeepers develop sustainable, pesticide-free approaches to beekeeping.His book Following the Wild Bees covers this topic.

Two of Seeley’s books will be available for sale at the meeting: The Honey Bee Democracy and his new book Following the Wild Bees. After the presentation, Dr. Seeley will be glad to autograph these and other books.

We will be meeting on the Ramapo College Campus in the H-Wing Auditorium at 7:30. Ramapo College is located at 505 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ

Map to H-wing

Mead recipe by Bob Slanzi


Mead maker Bob Slanzi presented mead making to the Northeast NJ Beekeepers at the October meeting. Here’s his recipe:
Basic Mead Recipe
Combine 15 lbs of honey with water (approximately 3 3/4 Gallons) to make 5 gallons of honey solution in a 6 gallon pail.
Add yeast
Add 1 teaspoon of Go-Ferm Yeast Nutrient
Mix and cover
Set in an area where the ambient temperature is about 65 F.

Combine 3 teaspoons of Go-Ferm and Ferm-K Yeast Nutrients.
Feed the yeast 1 teaspoon of mix for 3 days

Stir the batch every 12 hours for about 5 days.

Transfer batch to a carboy with an airlock and monitor for desired taste and alcohol content.

Stop fermentation with sulfite, optional.

Clarify with Bentonite Clay or “Super Clear”


Beekeeping in October


Beekeeping in October
By John A. Gaut
The bees have been working some remaining golden rod and the aster has been in full bloom in my area. But it has been dry so there is not much nectar. Most hive weights have been slowly increasing; I have had to add some sugar syrup to help. The colonies are organizing the hive for the winter, storing honey and pollen. (I continue to be amazed how consistently a colony arranges the honey to the top and outside, pollen in the bottom near the center and a brood nest in the center bottom part of the hive.) The field force will continue to bring in pollen and any nectar they can find this month. The colonies will reduce brood rearing as the days get shorter and cooler. The “winter bees” are emerging; winter survival will depend on their health and numbers.
To survive the winter, the colonies should be strong and have a vigorous queen. Three other important considerations are:
1. Adequate food reserves, both honey and pollen. The hive should have 60 pounds of honey and at least the equivalent to 4 frames of pollen (bee bread). The colony will consume the honey to maintain a cluster temperature and also need the protein from the pollen to stay well nourished. In the middle of winter, the colony will start consuming both honey and pollen when they start brood rearing.
2. Low mite parasitism; less than 1% is ideal. Mites suck the bee’s hemolymph (blood) and transmit viruses causing the colony to suffer a virus epidemic in the middle of winter. One last mite count now (after any treatment is removed) will let you know if your mite treatment program was successful. Treatments vary in effectiveness. You can NOT assume that your colonies are OK since you treated; you need to test and verify the treatment was successful!
3. A dry and wind protected hive. A small top entrance helps to ventilate moisture from the hive and provides an alternate entrance if the bottom entrance is covered in snow. A piece of insulation between the inner cover and outer cover can prevent condensation on the underside of the inner cover (condensation raining on the cluster can kill the colony). If a screened bottom board is used, the IPM board should be in place. Too much air moving through the hive will cause the colony to consume more honey to maintain the cluster temperature. Insulating the sides of the hive also helps reduce air infiltration and can reduce heat loss, especially on those windy, sub-freezing February nights.
Most of the colonies I have inspected during September and early October are doing well. There are many variables; the most important is mite counts. If the mite counts are low, the colonies are able to adjust to most of the other variables and pressures. I have found some colonies that have high mite counts though. Grrrr! These are typically the stronger colonies and mites were under control a month ago. They look very healthy now but the alcohol wash shows they will suffer if I do not treat for the mites. Why did the mite levels jump up in a month? Research is showing other colonies collapsing under heavy mite loads are the reason. Untreated colonies are the nuclear bomb of beekeeping. The strong colonies rob out the collapsing colonies bring back mites. And the bees in the collapsing hive will abscond and enter other hives in the area. I’ll reapply ApiVar to the colonies that have more than 1% mite levels. Check your colonies. Please don’t create a nuclear bomb for the other beekeepers!

Oct. 21 Meeting – All about Mead


On Friday Oct. 21, the Northeast NJ Beekeepers Meeting will be SWEET as we discuss the wine of the gods – Mead. Bob Slanzi, the Northeast NJ Beekeepers Association’s Meadmaster, EAS speaker, and national award winning mead maker, will be talking about how you can turn your honey into mead. Bob is a nationally recognized mead maker and has won multiple competitions, including Best in Show at NYC largest Home Brewers contest beating out over 750 entries. Bob will be offering samples of some of his award-winning brews, so come and learn how to put your extra honey to work to make the oldest kind of wine.Please click on the link to read more about Mead in New Jersey.
Our meetings are always the third Friday of every month, beginning at 7:30 pm. We meet at Ramapo College 505 Ramapo Valley Road Mahwah, NJ in the Anisfield School of Business, Room 135S.