KENILWORTH, NJ – Michael Devlin is a lifelong resident of Kenilworth. He is an officer in the Kenilworth Police Department, a Boy Scout Leader of Troop 83, member of the Beautification Committee, volunteer member of St. Theresa’s Social Concerns Committee, a husband, and father to his daughter and son. Among the many things that Devlin does in the Kenilworth community, he is also the local beekeeper.
How Devlin became a beekeeper all started when his daughter was ten years old running through the white clover in the backyard. Devlin warned his daughter not to step on any bees. “What bees?” she replied. Suddenly it dawned on Devlin that he could not recall the last time he had seen a honey bee. Devlin tells his story, “As coincidence would have it, my family saw a documentary about Colony Collapse that happened in the mid-2000s on TV the next night. This sowed the seeds. After a failed attempt to get a hive as a Girl Scout project, I learned that my cousin, a retired firefighter, took up beekeeping as a hobby in his retirement. I wanted to help out the environment, and he needed a place to put more hives.”
“Originally I was supposed to be nothing more than a host a bee landlord if you will,” Devlin states. In the Spring of 2017 Devlin hosted his first hive and instantly became addicted. “My colony was very docile, where the name Sweet Bees came from. Not only were they gentle, they exploded as a colony. I became so involved my cousin decided to become my mentor.” Devlin has had his ups and downs but at the moment he has four very strong colonies.
Honey is harvested twice a year, July and November usually. There is a process to extract the honey, and Devlin sells everything he collects. This year was his largest harvest so far at 80 lbs of honey. “I jar it directly, label it, and sell it. I never got into this for the honey, but for the bees. They have become quite the celebrities in my circles.” Questions about the bees, beekeeping and honey became so frequent, that Devlin even started his own YouTube channel, "Pirate Beekeepers Beekeeping."
Devlin has formed a co-op with his cousin and a Cranford hobbyist called Pirate Beekeepers. Last year, the Kenilworth PTO Vendor fair was his first selling event. The honey was well received by the community and he sold out most of his jars in one day. From the great response, Devlin decided to sell his honey off his porch, and he calls it the “porch market.”
Not only does Devlin produce and sell honey to the residents of Kenilworth, but this year he captured two bee swarms. “I try to educate folks on the habits and behavior of Honeybees and the benefits of raw local honey. Like most hobbies, beekeeping can get expensive and honey sales go right back into bee care. I started the porch market thing as an excuse to get the local honey out to friends and neighbors which then turned into a social event. It was so much fun the first time, we decided to do it again.”
You can find Devlin selling his honey next at the David Brearley High School PTO Class 2020 Project Graduation Craft and Vendor Fair Saturday, October 5.