Nature's gold

Beekeeping on the rise in New Jersey

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  • Photo courtesy National Honey Board Honey Bear.

  • Photo courtesy National Honey Board A display of the various colors of honey with a honey dipper.

  • Photo courtesy National Honey Month Several varieties of liquid honey, comb honey and creamed (whipped) honey.

  • Photo courtesy National Honey Board A display of liquid honey alongside a block of comb honey.

Celebrating nature's ‘gold,’ September marks National Honey Month.

There are about 3,000 beekeepers in New Jersey and of that 104 are registered in Sussex County with between 1 to 50 hives.

Each hive can produce approximately 40 pounds of honey, said says Bill Coniglio president of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association.

However, the number of beekeepers wasn't always buzzing in the Garden State.

"When I started [in 2004], there were less than 10 active members in the Sussex County Beekeepers Association," said Chris Tomlinson, president of the Sussex County Branch of NJBA. "A lot of people were throwing their hands up because it was getting harder and harder to keep bees. The catalyst that changed everything was when the news agencies posted on TV that we were losing all of our bees... It raised a huge awareness for bees and since then our numbers tripled throughout the state."


Tomlinson, who owns more than 40 hives, says he was attracted to honey due to health benefits as an athlete.
"Honey has long been used by athletes as a quick pick-me-up because of its carbohydrate count," said Erin Palinski, owner of Vernon Nutrition Center and author of the “Belly Fat Diet for Dummies.”
Along with the nutritional value, honey offers a medicinal value as well. Honey has been used to treat wounds as it keeps bacteria from growing.
"The Romans used it as a major medicinal on the battlefield," said Coniglio. "Today hospitals use it on burn victims and the FDA [Federal Drug Administration] has registered certain honeys for over-the-counter saves."
The sticky substance can be used as a home remedy for skin cuts, scrapes and burns as it helps to fight bacteria. As a natural humectant, honey attracts and retains moisture, helping keep skin soft and supple — its antimicrobial properties work to keep skin clear and breakout-free, according to Palinski.
"Emerging research supports honey as a natural cough suppressant," said Palinski. "Just a small dose of honey given before bedtime provided the greatest improvement of nighttime cough and sleep difficulty in children over one year of age compared to dextromethorphan and no treatment."
Helping to boost the immune system, honey can help improve the digestive system, fight disease/infection and fend off allergies.
Survey results show honey is a preferred sweetener, second only to sugar. When consuming honey, Palinski cautions to limit it in moderation.
"Honey is a concentrated source of sugar, meaning it is dense in calories without proving much satiety," Palinski said. "Be cautious with your serving size to prevent weight gain."

How to celebrate

September may be National Honey Month but beekeepers don't need a month to celebrate as it is more than a hobby – more of a passion.
"We pretty much celebrate honey all year round," Tomlinson said. "To get honey, you have to be able to know what bees are telling you. A lot of it has to do with love and passion, some people say they have the 'bug'."
As honey is harvested in the spring and fall, the County of Sussex and the Sussex County Beekeepers Association will host the 3rd annual Sussex County Harvest and Honey Festival at the Sussex County Fairgrounds, 37 Plains Road, Branchville, Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Local honey will be available for purchase and information about beekeeping will be available.

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