For Immediate Release: August 21, 2007
Contact: Jeff Beach
(609) 292-5531

(TRENTON) – A 21-year veteran of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture is trading cows, sheep and pigs for a decidedly more delicate member of the animal kingdom – honeybees.

Tim Schuler, a Senior Animal Health Technician for the Department’s Division of Animal Health, has been named the new State Apiarist, and began that job on August 20. He takes over the position vacated last spring by the retirement of then-State Apiarist Paul Raybold.  

“I want to help build up not only the commercial beekeepers, but also the hobbyists, the people who have 50, 60, 70 colonies,” Schuler said. “They can take the pollination jobs that sometimes may be too small for the larger beekeepers to do.”

The state apiarist aids New Jersey’s beekeeping industry by inspecting hives for signs of disease or parasites, ensures that colonies being brought into New Jersey from other states for pollination work on farms do not bring disease or parasites into the state, and works with educational institutions to encourage more people to get involved in beekeeping. 

As for Colony Collapse Disorder, the mysterious dying off of colonies for no apparent reason that has struck the industry over the past few years, Schuler said he “is more than willing to work with the researchers” in trying various approaches to finding the cause of, and the solution to, the problem. His own personal theory is that researchers have been looking too hard for one cause when it is more likely to be a combination of factors.

“It could be nutritional, could be chemical, maybe even some viruses,” Schuler said. “Over the last 100 years, there have been recorded times of honeybee die-off. It’s usually lasted a season, then things get back on track.”

A past president of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association and current president of the South Jersey Beekeepers Association, Schuler holds a bachelor’s degree from Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture and has also studied entomology at Cumberland County College.

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus said Schuler’s years of service in the Division of Animal Health and his previous stint (1989-91) as a Senior Inspector of Bee Culture have equipped him well for the role of State Apiarist. 

Photo of a beehive“With so many of New Jersey’s fruit and vegetable crops dependent on honeybees for pollination, ensuring a robust honeybee industry in New Jersey is a key to successful agriculture,” New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus said. “Tim’s background in our Divisions of Animal Health and Plant Industry, plus his own experience in the honeybee business, makes him ideally suited for this role.”

Schuler said he also planned to continue working closely with Rutgers University and the New Jersey Beekeepers Association to expand the highly successful “Bee-ginners Beekeeping” course offered since last year. Those hobbyists, who could also become a key link in the honeybee supply, remind Schuler of his own background and introduction to the industry when he was growing up in Prospect Park, Pa., just outside Philadelphia.

“My dad was a beekeeper, and I learned the business by the school of hard knocks,” he said. ”When I got out of college, I wanted to do beekeeping. It’s something I love.”