Frank “The Beeman” Mortimer

People often ask me how I got in to beekeeping, and while I wish there was some grand elaborate reason to why I wanted to be a beekeeper, the truth is that for as long as I can remember I have felt a connection to bees.

Frank Mortimer is an adjunct instructor at the Cornell University Master Beekeeping Program, Vice President of the New Jersey State Beekeepers Association, and a Certified Master Beekeeper.  Frank is the author of Bee People and the Bugs They Love, (Kensington Publishing, March 2021) and has written multiple articles featured in the widely circulated Bee Culture Magazine.

As the former president of the Northeast NJ Beekeepers Association—a position he held for over a decade—he: significantly grew his club’s membership, aligned the Northeast NJ Beekeepers with Ramapo College, and founded the “Honey Cup,” an annual honey tasting competition.

Frank has promoted beekeeping throughout the Northeast by speaking to everyone from school children to gardening clubs and civic organizations.  He has led beekeeping seminars across the Northeast and at The New York Botanical Garden. In addition, he successfully campaigned for his hometown of Ridgewood to become New Jersey’s first “Bee City USA.”  Frank is married, has three children, and beekeeping is something the whole family enjoys doing together.

The Cornell University Master Beekeeper Program is an advanced training program for beekeepers who have at least 3 years of beekeeping experience. The program is 15 months in duration and consists of four online classes and three in-person final exams at Cornell’s Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Studies.

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Storyteller  Educator

Frank Mortimer - Educator and Storyteller sharing his knowledge with the next generation

As president of the Northeast NJ Beekeepers Association, I was actively engaged in educating the general public about the importance of honey bees. One cannot underestimate the value of providing this information at a time when honey bees are fighting for their survival.  I do bee talks to raise awareness, and to share my passion for the honey loving bug.

If you ever get a chance to speak at an elementary school, it will be one of the best times you’ve ever had. Some of my fondest memories are giving talks to youngsters, because they always ask the best questions! When I am speaking to kids, I like to tell them that the entrance to a hive is like a runway and just like you can drive on the turnpike next to Newark Airport and not get hit by a plane, if you stay away from the front of the hive, you’ll avoid any bees crashing into you.

There is a meme going around that says, “I don’t always talk about bees, sometimes I’m asleep” and I do think that sums up how I feel and the passion one gets for beekeeping.  Every time you open a hive and see your bees doing what you want them to be doing, and your hive growing as it should be growing, it only adds fire to that passion.

For most of us, it is a passion for keeping bees – successfully – and the desire to see our bees thrive that drives beekeepers to want to help new beekeepers. The more experienced beekeepers you meet, the more you’ll hear a common theme to their advice: You can only learn by going into your hives, looking for signs that the colony is in good shape, and knowing when something doesn’t look right.

If you are interested in having a beekeeping presentation for your school, group or organization just drop me a buzz on our contact page where you will find a short form to complete and submit, and once I receive it, I will bee in touch.

Frank’s Honey   In The News

Frank Mortimer stands in a quiet patch of woods in Upper Saddle River. Bees buzz all around him, zipping among the five tall beehives that Mortimer maintains.

Oh, Beehive! All the Buzz About Beekeeping

New Jersey Monthly – February 6, 2017

Why more and more New Jerseyans are picking up the unconventional hobby, and keeping their hives healthy. Frank Mortimer stands in a quiet patch of woods in Upper Saddle River. Bees buzz all around him, zipping among the five tall beehives that Mortimer maintains. He carefully lifts apart the sections of the hives, peering at the creatures through his beekeeper’s mask as they go about their work caring for larvae, building intricate combs, maintaining the hives and making honey. As the president of the northeast chapter of the New Jersey Beekeepers Association (NJBA), Mortimer guides beekeeping hobbyists—primarily in Bergen and Passaic counties—on getting started in beekeeping and creating healthy hives. In 2011, when Mortimer took the reins of his chapter, there were 37 members. Today, there are more than 170 members, many of whom produce honey from hives tucked away in one of the most densely populated parts of the country.

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Why are half of NJ’s honeybees dying each year?

North Jersey – July 17, 2017

Nearly half the honeybees in New Jersey die off each year, significantly outpacing the national average and perplexing scientists, who worry the losses could impact the state’s agricultural industry. While bee populations have been in rapid decline throughout North America, losses in New Jersey surged ahead a few years ago and commercial as well as amateur beekeepers have been struggling with the losses.

Mortimer’s backyard in Ridgewood has too much shade so he keeps his seven hives in Upper Saddle River and Ho-Ho-Kus. Despite treating his colonies for varroa, he has been losing about 40 percent of bees in recent years, mirroring the state average. “When you’re working with the bees, it’s meditative and relaxing,” Mortimer said. “You have two to three thousand bees doing their business all around you. To hear the buzzing, to smell the honey, you become part of it. It’s so relaxing. And it’s a reason why we have to do everything we can as beekeepers to save them.”

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The Honeybees of Frank the beeman Mortimer

Beekeeper Frank Mortimer to the Rescue at Raymonds Restaurant in Ridgewood NJ

Outdoor Dining Suspended

The Ridgewood Blog – June 02, 2019

A swarm of approximately 15,000 honey bees forced the temporary suspension of outdoor dining at Raymond’s Restaurant and disrupted pedestrian traffic in a portion of downtown Ridgewood on Saturday afternoon, 06/01. Local beekeeper Frank Mortimer successfully dispersed the swarm. No injuries were reported. Ridgewood Police, Ridgewood Emergency Services, and two (2) representatives of the Ridgewood Parks Department responded to the incident.

The Ridgewood Police wisely kept their distance while the Bee keeper Frank Mortimer did his work.

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Policeman Calls Beekeeper

The Ridgewood Blog – March 12, 2020

A swarm of bees gathered on the side of a large oak tree near a sidewalk 1/2 block away from the Willard Elementary School in Ridgewood attracted the attention of Patrol Officer Jeffrey Kay just prior to noon on Wednesday, 5/18. Officer Kay deployed yellow caution tape to block the sidewalk near the tree, then remained on the scene to ensure the safety of parents and students until the bee swarm was safely removed by Frank Mortimer, President of the Northeast New Jersey Beekeepers Association. Mr. Mortimer, who lives in Ridgewood, had been delivering a presentation to students at the Ridge Elementary School in Ridgewood at the time he received a telephone call that his services were required by Officer Kay.

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Beekeeper Frank Mortimer Removes Swarm of Honeybees from Willard School in Ridgewood NJ