6 Easy Steps to Become a Backyard Beekeeper

The experts say it’s relatively easy to get started as a backyard beekeeper. We explain how to do it.

Lettering and Illustration by Angela Southern

The experts say it’s relatively easy to get started as a backyard beekeeper. Once you do, you’ll be able to bottle your own delicious honey; the stuff will keep indefinitely. Many hobbyists also sell their honey at farmers’ markets to recoup costs. To get started, state apiarist Tim Schuler recommends these steps:

1. Research. Schuler recommends aphis.usda.gov as a great source of information about the hobby.

2. Join a Club. Sign up with your local chapter of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association (NJBA). Ten branches operate throughout the state. Membership is $25. Information can be found at njbeekeepers.org.

3. Take a Beekeeping Class. The NJBA chapters hold local classes to help beekeepers understand how to maintain healthy hives and succeed at beekeeping.

4. Buy Your Supplies. Several Jersey retailers specialize in beekeeping supplies, including Stiles Apiaries in Fords, S&F Honey Farm in Flemington and Harvey’s Honey in Monroeville. Supplies can also be purchased online. Schuler estimates that getting started costs about $400.

5. Register Your Hives. Registering hives with the state Department of Agriculture is critical to hive health. Once a hive is registered, Schuler can visit, assess potential problems and create a plan of action to protect other local hives.

6. Have Fun! By keeping hives, beekeepers are contributing to a stable honeybee population in the Garden State.

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