Bob opened up the first hive and was extremely pleased by what he saw. Bees and honeycomb were busting from the seems. In fact, rarely has he seen such a healthy, lively hive. The word he used was "gangbusters."
The bees themselves weren't aggressive at all, especially once he sprayed them with some calming smoke. We each stood with bees buzzing around us -- no stings to report.
Bob handed me a piece of honeycomb straight from the hive, dripping with honey. "Goldenrod honey," he said. He can tell from the taste, and because of the time of year. As I chewed the waxy honeycomb, it could not have been sweeter. By the time Bob stopped handing me honeycomb, I must have swallowed half a jar of honey. My stomach later told me perhaps that was too much of a good thing.
The second beehive, just a few feet away from the first hive, was a different story. As Bob opened it up to look inside, there were far fewer bees, and no honeycomb in the upper apartments. These bees were doing just okay. But nothing to worry about, Bob said.
Throughout the state, most of Bob's beehives are having a good year, he reports. Which is good news -- a few years ago New Jersey beekeepers and many other throughout the country and world suffered mass die-offs of honey bee colonies. According to recent media reports, "Nutritional stress, pathogens (mites, viruses and fungus), and pesticides," have all been implicated in creating a one-two-three punch against honey bees. And the latest: "Two recent studies published in Science strengthen the case that a relatively new class of systemic insecticides entitled 'neonicotinoid pesticides' are indeed key drivers behind recent pollinator decline."