Bob Hughes, one of New Jersey's preeminent beekeepers, spoke at the farm today. I learned:
- A thriving honeybee colony consists of 60,000 to 80,000 workers (females), 150 to 250 drones (males), and 1 queen.
- New Jersey is home to about 10,000 honeybee colonies.
- The qualities of a good beehive location are: Sunlight from early in the morning to late in the day, protection from the north wind, and a water source within half a mile.
- In New Jersey, the major sources of nectar for the honeybee are (in the order they become available in the spring): Maple trees, dandelions, black locust trees, poplar trees, and clover.
- The average lifespan of a queen bee is 2 to 5 years. Her role is to be an egg laying machine -- as many as 2,000 in one day.
- The average lifespan of a worker bee is 6 weeks to 3 months. During the period of a worker bee's life when it goes out collecting nectar and pollen, it works from dawn to dusk.
During the question and answer segment, I asked Hughes about Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious bee die-off that was in the news last year. Hughes said the current health of the New Jersey honeybee is "very good to excellent." From 2006 to 2007, New Jersey lost 40% to 60% of its honeybees, according to Hughes. From 2007 to 2008, loses were down to just 3%, he said.
Howell Farm has three hives of its own, all located next to the small bridge that crosses the stream between the visitor's center and the farm. They're easy to miss. This is what you're looking for: