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Why exhibit at honey shows

I have never been a competitive person and when I first got my bees, and joined West Wiltshire branch, I had no interest in, or any intention of, showing honey or wax products.

In fact, I felt it was a waste of time. When the branch honey show was due – and really needed members to participate – someone suggested I should enter at least in the Novice Class of 1lb of honey.

Not wanting to upset anyone, I did and came second. The judging was open, and the judge explained why he had reached his conclusion. I was annoyed with myself when I realized that, with a little more care, I could easily have done better. That was the day I became addicted to showing.

Since then, I have read a lot and listened a lot to people who have experience of, and success at, showing. I have entered many shows at branch and county level, and at the Bath and West Show. With each one entered, I have learned more and I have had a fair amount of success.

The more classes you enter, the more likely you are to win something. One of the Classes I have never entered is mead, so I have been reading all about how to make it and hope to enter my first bottles later in the year. This is one of the great things about showing – it’s a good opportunity to discover other aspects of your hobby. Showing is fun. If you haven’t tried it yet, why not have a go this year?

Geraldine Lenert, West Wilts (First published in the Honey Bee Times 2017 No 1)

How to win at honey shows 

Showing your honey and other hive products is an immensely enjoyable aspect of beekeeping.

Have a go at entering one or two classes in your association show. If you enjoy this, why not enter the County Show? Then there is the Bath and West Show, or even the National Honey Show.  To be in with a chance of winning, here are some top tips when exhibiting. 

  • Most classes require 1lb squat jars with gold coloured, screw on, metal lids.
  • Ensure the jar is clean and free of any fluff from drying cloths.
  • Ensure there is no rust on the lids of honey jars and wash the lids to remove any loose white sealant from the inside.
  • Attach no labels other than the class labels supplied, unless it is a class As for shop sale.
  • Full jars, no daylight showing between the honey and the lid.
  • No scum on the top of the honey. This can be removed by laying cling film on top of the honey and then lifting it off. Anything left can be removed with a small spoon.
  • Clear honey should be perfectly clear with no granulation. Look carefully at the bottom of the jar and you may see crystals starting to form. To melt these, place the jar in hot water. Do this at least 24 hours before the show.
  • Soft set honey should not move when the jar is tipped sideways, and the crystals should be small so the texture is pleasant.
  • Honey that granulates quickly, such as oil seed rape, will granulate with small crystals. If OSR honey is mixed with slower granulating honey, it will all granulate with acceptable small crystals.
  • Chunk honey must not be granulated in the comb and should be placed in the jar the right way up – as it is in the hive. The surrounding honey should be the same as that in the comb. Remove any small bits of loose wax.
  • Cut comb honey should be allowed to drain before being boxed so that the outer cut cells are dry. Again, honey should not have granulated in the cells.
  • Frames of honey must not have granulated and all cells should be completely sealed across the frame.
Wax products
  • Use your best wax with the lightest colour. This will come from cappings.
  • Wash wax in rain water or distilled water to remove honey and dirt.
  • Filter it well to remove any foreign bodies – J cloths are very good for this.
  • When staging candles, ensure they stand secure and upright in their candle holders.
  • Prepare the wick by dipping in the wax before inserting in the mould.
  • Make sure wick is centred all the way down the candle.
  • Inspect any wax products when they are finished to make sure there are no small black specks showing.
  • Cool wax moulds very slowly to prevent cracking on the top. Turn off the oven and leave to cool overnight.

Geraldine Lenert, West Wilts BKA (First published in the Honey Bee Times 2017 No 3)

How to make dipped candles

For a short video on how to make silky-smooth straight dipped candles at home with minimal kit, click here.

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