New Jersey beekeeper, Aaron Daniels, is just 23 years old, but he has started up a business that he enjoys and which could become one he’ll want to stick with the rest of his life: beekeeping. It’s one honey of a job, Aaron has found out, though it hasn’t always been easy for him.
Aaron has joined legions of other apiarists, or beekeepers, who have, down the centuries, kept the fine art of maintaining an apiary (bee yard) alive. What’s more, he began his hobby in high school, and this enterprising young man has made it into a budding career, selling not only honey but a range of products made from the honey his bees produce.
Douglas Cobb: Aaron, thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me! Beekeeping is a very interesting topic I’m sure that our readers at The Guardian Express would like to know more about.
When did you first get interested in keeping bees, and how long have you been a beekeeper? Would you call it, for you, a hobby or a profession?
Aaron Daniels: I was inspired to become a beekeeper. I met a master beekeeper after high school and thought what he was doing was very cool. I studied about bees as soon as I got home. I started my business in Newark because there are no pesticides which is great for the bees. I like Carniolan bees (because) they are very hardy and can handle the winters here.
A lot of people never thought it would be possible to have bees in a city. But people soon realized you can have bees in an urban setting, after a little educational talk from an urban beekeeper: me.
I started my own business after high school. I would recommend those interested in beekeeping to start as early as possible. I’ve been a beekeeper for almost five years now. Beekeeping is a full time job for me. I love working outside and being with the bees and learning their behavior. Working indoors has never worked out for me. But, beekeeping has everything that I like since I’m always on the move.
Douglas Cobb: How much land do you have, then, to devote to your bees and their hives? Have your neighbors ever complained about the bees, or do they appreciate some free honey now and then, perhaps?
Aaron Daniels: I was born and raised in Newark and attended Central High School. The city of Newark has no limits when it comes to bees and beekeeping. You don’t need a lot of land. Just enough to hold as many as two or four hives. My neighbors have never complained about my bees. They buy honey from me all the time.
Douglas Cobb: How many hives do you have currently? Have you had more or less in the past? How many did you start off with?
Aaron Daniels: I own a total of eight hives and I lost about four last winter. It was not that good of a season.
Douglas Cobb: What do you do with your bees during the long, cold New Jersey winters? Do you place them somewhere warm, or do they go into some sort of state of hibernation, maybe?
Aaron Daniels: I feed my bees sugar candy during the winter season. The bees eat the candy to keep their blood sugar levels up. I find tar paper good to keep the bees warm during the winter. The bees keep the hive at a 90 degree temperature.
Douglas Cobb: Do you sell much of the honey your bees produce? How many varieties do your bees make, if they produce more than one type? If so, how do you ensure that bees in one hive seek out pollen from only certain flowers, like clover? Do you label your honey, and call it by a brand name?
Aaron Daniels:I attend the local farmers markets almost five days a week. It depends on the season what type of honey I receive from the bees. Sometime I get clover or black locust.
The bees seek out the honey themselves. They use the sun to find out the location of the food source and then report the information back to the hive. Jerseybuzz is the name brand I thought of when I was 19. I’m 23 years old now.
Douglas Cobb: What’s your personal favorite type of honey?
Aaron Daniels: My favorite honey is buckwheat honey.
Douglas Cobb: I just have a couple more questions for you, Aaron — you’ve given me some fantastic answers so far!
Have you had any problems with bee mites that have devastated other bee colonies? If so, how do you deal with them?
Aaron Daniels: It depends on the beekeeper whether or not bees are doing well. Over all my bees are doing fine and they’re pretty gentle. In Newark the demand for Raw Honey is great. I’m not sure about other places. There are a lot of people having Raw Honey for the first time in Newark. It’s a pleasure for me to supply Newarkers with real produce.
We use powered sugar for the mite treatment. We dump the sugar on top of the bees and the bees lick the sugar off each other. That’s how the bees get rid of the mites.
Douglas Cobb: For my last question, Aaron, would you please tell our readers what your website is, if you have one, where they could learn even more about you and beekeeping? Also, can people buy honey that your bees produce through your site? If so, please give our readers the information about how to purchase some. I bet it’s delicious!
Aaron Daniels: Jerseybuzz is my company website. You can send me an email and order it online (Note: Aaron has many other honey-related products for sale there, as well, like facial and foot scrubs).
Written by: Douglas Cobb