SHORT HILLS, NJ - A beehive 50 feet above Oakview Terrace was saved last Wednesday through a coordinated effort of the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum staff, Millburn Township Shade Tree workers, and beekeeper Joe Lelinho of Hilltop Honey. Thousands of regional honey bees built the exposed hive, but with temperatures plummeting the bees could have died.
Community member Amy Sherman Gotsch first reported the hive and Arboretum trustee member, Mukta Bhatia notified Cora Hartshorn Arboretum Executive Director Tedor Whitman. Whitman assembled the bee rescue team that included Lelinho, beekeeper and owner of Hilltop Honey, John Walker, Sam Mercandante, Rick Reilly, and Ryan Keenan from Millburn Shade Tree. The bees are spending a cozy winter at Hilltop Honey.
Exposed hives are natural, but unusual. Honeybees much prefer to build their hive in a protected spot, most commonly in a tree hollow. Apparently, this swarm couldn't find a hollow, so they had to settle on this spot in the Glenwood neighborhood. Honeybee workers have one job in the winter: to keep the queen warm.
By moving their bodies, worker bees generate heat and try to maintain hive temperatures between 89-95 degrees Fahrenheit. In a typical, enclosed, sheltered hive, it is easy to maintain the correct temperature as long as there is enough stored food and honey for the workers to last the winter. Without the insulating properties of an enclosed hive, an exposed hive will most likely lose too much heat due to exposure and the queen will die. Once she passes, the rest of the hive will most likely collapse.