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Kerry, Rich and Alyssa Lepik pose in front of a table displaying honey samples entered into a contest at the Morris and Somerset County Beekeepers Christmas luncheon on Dec. 5th.


Purple orchid blossoms adorned entrées of salmon with mustard sauce at Café Venizia in Martinsville, NJ, where twenty beekeepers enjoyed an incredibly delectable and aesthetic Christmas luncheon. In attendance were Rich, Kerry and Alyssa Lepik and Mare and Richard Olsen.

According to Rich, his bees have produced a generous amount of honey, but autumn has offered challenges.


This year’s warmer and fluctuating late fall temperatures have kept bees flying about, yet pollen-producing plants from which they gain sustenance have withered for the year; food is hard to find.

Beekeepers don’t deplete their hives of honey, but try to leave enough to maintain the bees throughout the winter.


As Mare explains, beekeepers can also provide their bees with sugar water but, once temperatures drop, that will freeze.


Another option is a fondant, a creamy mixture of nutrients that will keep the bees alive.

Sadly, another bee species, the American bumblebee, an iconic North American pollinator, has already disappeared from Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming, and seems to be doing the same in the Garden State, where its numbers have decreased by 85%.


As with all bee species, threats include climate change, habitat loss, disease, and pesticides containing neonicotonoids.

Decreasing honeybee numbers, as well, continue to be of global concern; the “Eesti Mesinike Liit” (Estonian Beekeepers Union) organized a conference on Dec. 9th in Tartu (via webcast) to discuss “Kuidas kaitsta Eesti tolmeldajaid?” (How to Protect Estonia’s Pollinators).


NJ beekeepers, such as the Lepiks and Olsens, continue to assume the critical (and loving) responsibility of supporting dwindling honeybee populations.


It’s amazing to consider that the future of about 35% of our food crops depends on pollinators such as the honeybee, which weighs an average of only 3 grams.


Please investigate your state’s beekeeping associations to learn how to lend a hand in a rewarding activity which, thus far, has lasted 5,000 years.


Text and photo by
Virve Lane



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