Green

New Brunswick Beekeepers Abuzz Over Proposed State Rules

043f185d5f8af5b35a4d_D92A9652.jpeg
Credits: Courtesy of Javier Robles
043f185d5f8af5b35a4d_D92A9652.jpeg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The city’s beekeepers have been pushing back against a set of rules proposed by the state Department of Agriculture, which they worry could force many of them ​to get a new hobby or business.

The proposals would strictly regulate everything to do with beekeeping and set up fees, waiver applications, setback requirement and zoning laws.

The state agriculture department is accepting public comment ​on its proposal via email at proposedrulesplantindustry@ag.state.nj.us ​until Jan. 19.

Sign Up for E-News

In 2015, the State Legislature passed the Right to Farm Act, which barred municipalities from regulating apiary practices, that is, anything having to do with bees.

In a city like New Brunswick, chances are you live within a mile of a beekeeper and might not even know it.

With the news of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) being blamed for a sharp decline in honeybees, New Jersey has been no exception to a nationwide surge in recreational beekeeping, often in people’s own backyards.

Many of these New Jersey residents have recognized the importance that the honeybee plays in the pollination of fruits and vegetables, advocates have said.  

The number of hobbyist beekeepers in the state has risen from 450 in 2008 to 3,000 in 2017, according to Janet Katz, president of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association.

Beekeepers like Javier Robles, a Rutgers University professor, have been watching the regulations as they progress through Trenton.

He owns about a dozen hives on Rutgers​ University's​ Cook Campus, squished between a patch of woods, residential neighborhoods, the New Brunswick Water Treatment Plant, different ​university buildings and many other gardening spots.

Entrance to a beehive colony on Cook Campus maintained by Rutgers Professor Javier Robles, Credits: Daniel J. Munoz

“The gardeners say since the bees came, we have had ​a lot more crops. We also ​have healthier crops, because they’re going to pollinate pretty much everything,” Robles said.

Robles added: “Rutgers has been great letting me have my beehives there. I’ve brought college people, seniors, people from high school, ​and people from ​Highland Park. I open up the hives, show them how they work.”

One of the biggest issues is the lot size requirements; a property under a quarter acre ​can't have beehives.

A lot between a quarter acre and five acres can have two hives and a nucleus. For reference, a football field measures 1.32 acres.

A nucleus, for reference, is a starter hive, which has a laying queen, roughly 10,000 bees and a brood (a bee in the pupae stage, transitioning from larva to its adult form).

Existing hives operating prior to July 31, 2015 would be grandfathered and those beekeepers could apply for special waiver, according to Joseph Zoltowski, who oversees the Division of Plant Industry in the agriculture department.

Lauren Dent, of Edison, tends to two of the beehives on Cook Campus, Credits: Daniel J. Munoz

A fence would be required at the edge of the beekeeping property and hives would be subject to a minimum setback from that fence.

Beekeepers would have to take continuing education courses if they want to be allowed to continue their hobby.

“I think that it’s really bad for the small beekeeper, the hobby beekeeper, who​ has​ been doing this for 15 or 20 years,” Robles said. “We’re going to let all the beekeeping go to the big guy.”

“The minimum lot size of a quarter acre, to manage bees, that’s going to put a barrier right away, on folks like myself who try to keep bees in an urban environment,”​ explained Anthony Capece, a staffer at Elijah’s Promise ​in New Brunswick ​who maintains the community garden, which holds two beehives.

Anthony Capece maintains the two beehives in the Elijah's Promise garden. Credit: Daniel J. Munoz

Elijah’s Promise​, a prominent local soup kitchen,​ uses its garden for demonstrations and personal agriculture​,​ Capece said. In the summer, as many as 40 guests could be helping out at the garden or working on their own projects.

“We’ve just turned routine maintenance into opportunities for volunteers, or for gardeners to learn a bit more about beekeeping,” Capece said.

Capece said that with the new rules, the garden might just make it; the lot size might just be big enough to allow the bees and it might make the July 31, 2015 threshold.

Ultimately, Zoltowski said the new laws would reduce the “nuisance factor to adjacent neighbors by having too many bees clustered in one small location and lessen the potential for stinging incidents.”

But Robles reported there hadn’t been any such mishaps with his neighbors. Many neighbors and passerby, Robles said, are intrigued or pleasantly surprised by the bees.

In the summer, residents from nearby neighborhoods jog through the garden, and kids use it a shortcut to get to the soccer fields on Biel Road.  

“There’s a big misconception about what people perceive to be honeybees, which may be yellow jackets or wasps​," Robles said. "To someone who doesn’t do beekeeping, all bees are the same. So that’s a problem, something education can help.”

Capece has said that he and the other beekeepers have done due diligence; letting the church and neighbors know there’s beehives, and that they’d assume liability for any mishaps​. H​e says there’s have been none.

The Elijah’s Promise beekeepers installed a meter-height fence around the hives, which Capece said keeps the bees from flying to neighboring property and instead makes them fly upwards and to more distance areas.

The bees can fly as much as three miles away from the hive, Capece said​. T​hey travel to heavily wooded and garden areas they can pollinate: Boyd, Johnson and Buccleuch Park, Rutgers Gardens an the Cook Farms.

Editor Daniel J. Munoz, dmunoz@tapinto.nettwitter.com/DanielMunoz100

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - February 23, 2018




The Jaffe Briefing Is going on Winter Break, returning Monday, March 5


OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

 NEWARK - The Archdiocese of Newark is somehow making national news, after Cardinal Joseph Tobin sent out a tweet Wednesday that raised one or two eyebrows. Tobin tweeted "Nighty-night, baby. I love you," Hmm, people asked. Now who ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 22, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - If New Jersey raises the sales tax back to 7 percent, will anyone notice? That's the big question from New Jersey Policy Perspective, which questions last year's gimmick that cut the sales tax rate to 6.625 percent. NJ 101.5reports that tax cut equates to $2 a week in "savings" for middle-class families. Meanwhile, this ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 21, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

ON THE HIGHWAY - Authorities were frantically looking into a "mystery tar" that appeared suddenly on cars driving along I-295 in South Jersey, causing tires to gel with the road. They quickly realized that a stretch of the highway in Salem County was smeared with liquid asphalt, leaked from a tanker and causing dozens of cars to get ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 20, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE - Jittery parents are sending their jittery kids to jittery schools this morning, as classes resume after a President's Day weekend filled with wall-to-wall news coverage about gun safety. School districts statewide have been reporting threats - all thankfully not credible - as district leaders are on the highest alert. East Brunswick, for ...

The Jaffe Briefing - February 16, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

E STREET - While a tired nation is demanding gun control (yet again), Springsteen guitarist Stevie Van Zandt is having none of it. No stranger to political opinions, the New Jersey icon tweeted "What happened to us? We are averaging 2 school shootings per week AND WE DO NOTHING ABOUT IT!" Many tone-deaf politicians on Capitol Hill ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 15, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - As state lawmakers are set to announce a bill at 11 a.m. to decriminalize pot - an issue that has consumed the Statehouse -  the Record is reporting on an often-ignored issue: the state's ridiculously antiquated liquor laws. For example, supermarkets in the state can only have up to two liquor licenses, stemming ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_f91ed86077ea29dfd56e_image

Sat, February 24

Plainsboro

Project Feeder Watch

Green Home & Garden

Carousel_image_f4e82d3711fc465ac05c_1234663_10152274039849715_16207768_n

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

New Jersey Audubon's Plainsboro Preserve, Plainsboro

Family Adventures - Early Spring: Emerging ...

Green

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

Edison High School Auditorium, Edison

Free community viewing of "Bag It"

Green

Trees Have Sex? Rutgers Researchers Have All the Answers

February 22, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A few years ago, Rutgers researcher Jennifer Blake-Mahmud was working on a botany project in Virginia when colleagues pointed out a striped maple, a common tree in the understory of mountain forests from Nova Scotia to Georgia. 

 

“They told me, ‘We think it switches sex from year to year, but we don’t know why,’ and I said, ...

Rutgers Union Rally Planned Friday for $15 Minimum Wage

New Brunswick, NJ - On Friday, February 23, student groups, a coalition of Rutgers unions, and representatives from campuses across the nation will hold a rally and march on College Avenue to demand a $15 minimum wage.

The action, initiated by the Rutgers chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and the Rutgers American Association of University Professors - American Federation of ...

RU Students Rejoice: Starbucks Reopens at The Yard@College Avenue

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - In what many consider to be the biggest news of the day on the Rutgers University campus, the Starbucks at The Yard@College Avenue has once again reopened.

Officials with the New Brunswick Development Corp. reported this morning that the popular coffeehouse is open "for good."

The Starbucks at The Yard@College Avenue, located at the corner of College ...

Valeski: Placing Police Officers in Schools was Planned for Two Years

February 21, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - In the midst of a media firestorm Tuesday, Dr. Victor Valeski, East Brunswick Superintendent of Schools, fielded questions from local and national journalists regarding the placement of armed police officers inside each of the district's K-12 buildings.  The move seemed to many as a "knee-jerk" reaction to the fear generated by the massacre of ...

Shouts of Racial Slurs Bring Police to Sparta Theatre

February 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...

OPINION

Letter to the Editor: Low-Income Families Who Need Safe Cribs Have Nowhere to Go

February 15, 2018

One recent email came from a pastor in East Orange, sharing the struggles of a young couple who have no safe place for their baby to sleep.

Then, there was also a phone call from a Newark hospital, making its fourth request in two years, as well as a frantic text from Puerto Rico, for a family who lost everything in the hurricane.

They all pleaded for the same thing: A safe crib for a ...

Somerset Patriots Sign Frontier League All-Star RHP Randy McCurry

February 17, 2018

The Somerset Patriots have announced the signing of right-handed relief pitcher Randy McCurry for the 2018 season.

“I’m excited to play in the Atlantic League this year,” said McCurry. “It’ll be a transition for me but I am ready to face some really good competition and help the team win.”

McCurry enters his first season with the Somerset Patriots and ...