bee guy

Beekeeper Bob Hughes extracts a swarming cell from a bee box at the annual beekeeping event at Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville, NJ on April 11, 2015.

Standing in the morning sun, a cool breeze blowing, a crowd of about 25 people gathers around three white boxes to watch 30,000 honey bees fly endlessly in and out of small holes. Spring arrived late this year, and the honey bees have a lot of catching up to do.

Bob Hughes, a professional beekeeper, gets out of his blue SUV and proceeds to his hives. He is wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans and carries an air of compassionate authority, a certain charisma that only comes from age and experience.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 11.10.46 AMHe props his arm on a sign post and introduces the event, then takes a hand held bee smoker from the back of his truck and puffs it liberally at one of the hives to pacify the bees.

Next he pulls a large white cell panel from one of the bee boxes. The golden brown comb glistens as it hums with the sound of thousands of tiny worker bees. He brings it around the crowd, assuring them the bees pose no threat. Some children rush to his side, eager to learn more. While others hide behind parents’ legs.

Every spring, Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville, NJ has its beekeeping event; this year it was held on April 11. Howell, part of the Mercer County Park Commission, practices farming techniques that were used between 1890 and 1910. The farm is open to the public, and hosts a variety of outdoor events year round, from sheep shearing (coming up May 2) to bat box building (May 3).

As the visitors stare at the beehives, Bob Hughes, walks towards them to begin his yearly spring beekeeping event. An event Howell living history farm hosts. Hughes does any maintenance needed to his hive, and provides information on bees, and beekeeping.

Pete Watson the director of the farm told The VOICE that he and Hughes were first introduced some 25 years ago, when Hughes was working for the State Department of Agriculture inspecting bees. Howell needed help with their hives, and Hughes stepped up. He has also helped more than one hundred of people who wanted to start a beehive get started.

“He is just a terrific guy,” Watson says of Hughes.

The mission of Howell Living History Farm is to provide the public with interesting and valuable recreational and educational opportunities. Beekeeping, for the most part, has changed little since the 1890s

In accordance with this mission, they try to keep with traditional cycles. In the spring a farmer would open up the hive, and make sure the bees have survived.

According to Hughes he has been keeping bees for some thirty five years now. In addition to working for the Department of Agriculture, he also teaches classes in beekeeping at Rutgers University.

During the event this year Hughes slowly explained to the attendees some basics of beekeeping.

For example, he said there are three main types of bees. The queen, the drone, and the worker bee. The drone is the only variety of male bee, and his sole purpose is to mate with a queen bee.

The queen bee, contrary to popular belief, has no authority in the hive. Her only job is too lay eggs, possibly thousands in a day.

Worker bees are all female. They do all the tasks necessary for day to day life, gathering pollen, building the hive, feeding the young, and so on.

Although bees may seem fairly unimportant to our everyday lives, in fact bees play a crucial role in the agricultural systems in the U.S. The do the work of pollination that is essential for crops such as corn, which is a cornerstone of American agricultural economy.

Right now bees are facing something called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. According to the American Beekeeping Federation website: “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a serious problem threatening the health of honey bees and the economic stability of commercial beekeeping and pollination operations in the United States.”

Though the cause of CCD is not yet clear, the need for more investigation into the problem, and more focus on the relevance of bees to our society is clearly needed.

The practices of beekeeping are still handed down generation to generation, which is true for Hughes. He says he got into beekeeping through his father, who owned land and kept bees. Howell Living History Farm is working to bring new interest to beekeeping for a generation that may otherwise be removed from these traditions.

Print Friendly
Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumbler Email


Tags: , , , , , ,

About Max Leavitt-Shaffer

View all posts by Max Leavitt-Shaffer
Max Leavitt-Shaffer

Comments are closed.

Transgender discussion panel succeeds despite vandalism

Including panelists, 20 people attended a transgender issues panel held at Mercer in SC 104 on April 16, 2015 despite […]

The VOICE supports Press For Ethics Week

The student journalists on the staff of The College VOICE, are just that, students learning the craft of journalism, how […]

Philadelphia Flower Show displays feature Dutch designs and student entry takes home gold

This year the Philadelphia Flower Show theme was, “Holland Flowering the World” which inspired entrants to come up with new […]

Snyder puts Avengers on ice in Vikings home opener

Mercer County Community College’s baseball team got to play on home turf for the first time on Thursday, March 23. […]

What the flock? Suburban chickens rule the roost

We are in the middle of a chicken craze. Residents of towns across the state have taken to backyard poultry […]

After Reddit mocks diversity disaster, college uses real student successes for promo models

When entering MCCC, you can’t miss the life-sized images of students hanging from the lamp posts lining the perimeter campus […]

New bill would tighten pedestrian responsibilities

South Jersey assemblyman Chris Brown introduced the Driver and Pedestrian Mutual Responsibility Act on On Feb. 6, 2017. If passed, […]

LGBT students need to come out and show their pride at MCCC

My name is Zayvion Thompson and I am proud openly bisexual male.I am currently a second year Communications and New […]

STUDENT PROFILE: Interview with Colette Leonard James

The VOICE’s ongoing STUDENT PROFILES series explores the lives of individual Mercer students and their unique, surprising, often courageous stories. […]

Friends can be found even on commuter community college campus, if you look

A common complaint heard on campus is that people come to class and then immediately leave for home or to […]

Ellucian NO! App falls short of promise

Last fall, Mercer launched Ellucian Go as their all-purpose college navigation app. According to the Ellucian website, the app is […]

New York’s Times Square really is worth the bucket list

The array of lights, sounds, billboards, smells, the buzzing hive of activity, and all the yellow taxis have made Times […]

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.
Social links powered by Ecreative Internet Marketing