Beekeeping in March is an exciting time of year. Spring is here and the bees know it. This post is a simple update for you the beekeeper and the Non beekeeper to learn about the bees that are managed by HarBee Beekeeping. Finishing the post is an update on the state the of current laws restricting beekeeping.
A recent article, March 2022 issue, in the American Bee Journal by Dewey Caron does a much better job at describing the early spring management that is needed for bees and because of that I would highly recommend subscribing to the ABJ to get access.
Pretty soon Maple trees will start to flower. NJ has four different species of maple that flower in secession with some overlap. The first being Silver maple (acer saccharinum) found mostly in wetland areas or as a roadside tree. Maples are a great build up nectar and pollen source for the bees. This will get the bees to start rearing brood in a serious way.
With the extra brood rearing a beekeeper needs to ensure that the bees have enough sugar so to not starve. Being ready with hard sugar or fondant is wise, feeding this sugar or fondant provocatively is not. Sugar should only be fed as needed on a hive-by-hive case. This is because the bees will often consume that sugar you provide before consuming the honey stored in comb. If they have honey and aren’t consuming it, they aren’t making room for the brood rearing they want to do. It doesn’t hurt the bees to take off the lid, break the seal between boxes can pick it up to see if the topmost box has honey or not. You can also weigh your hives, with a luggage scale or eve, on warm days remove a frame to take a look.
Next major nectar source will be Dandelions. Mostly in late March- early April dandelions are the start of the honey season, at least as I view it. HarBee at this time will be adding 2 or 3 honey super above a queen excluder a 1) a swarm management tool and 2) to captor any early honey.
In October 2021, a new Cottage Food Regulation (N.J.A.C. 8:24-11) was adopted by the New Jersey Department of Health which legalized the sale of baked goods and other prepared foods by individuals to individuals. It was previously illegal to sell home baked goods unless they were prepared in a commercial kitchen. Now the person dreaming of starting a cupcake side hustle can do so.
However, honey was included in this regulation, making it so a person needs a permit to “relinquish” or sell honey. A beekeeper in NJ cannot sell the surplus honey that he or she harvests unless they operate with a cottage food permit and have fewer than fifty thousand dollars in sales or work out of a commercial kitchen. The sale of honey through a third party is also illegal unless the beekeeper uses a commercial kitchen.
In December, a replacement bill that was unanimously passed by both houses of the legislature would have amended the Department of health regulation, but it was pocket vetoed by Governor Murphy in the last day of the 2020-2021 legislative session, which killed the bill, leaving most beekeepers operating outside of the Department of Health regulations.