They say ‘Time flies when you are having fun’. I also find the same true when you beekeep!
Once again the months have flown by and I not kept up with posts. Well it’s time for an update…
It all started in the first week of September on a cool Monday evening. It was the first monthly (Winter) meeting of my local BKA (Barnsley Bee Keepers Association). As well as the AGM we had, instead of a guest speaker, the Yorkshire Bee Keepers Association (YBKA) area representative Dave Shannon to give us an update on the upcoming education and training programs.
In addition to these details Dave also gave us a ‘heads-up’ on the Countryside Live event to be held 19th/20th October at the Great Yorkshire Show ground in Harrogate.
The YBKA Annual Honey show is part of this event and this year YBKA had also been asked to provide a honey tasting table and honey sales for the public. As chief steward Dave explained that they had enough volunteers this year for the show stewards but could do with 1-2 people more to help with the Honey tasting / sales.
To cut a long story short I decided to volunteer as I saw it as a good chance to help out and meet other beekeepers from Yorkshire and help educate the public about the importance of eating real local honey!
Dave suggested that as I would be there helping out I might as well enter the honey show. I have never really given much thought about entering honey shows before and didn’t really consider it ‘my thing’. I decided I might as well give it a go!
So jumping forward to Saturday 19th October, I had an early start to drive to Harrogate in time to submit my entries into the show and prepare myself to help out with the public honey tasting.
I had, in the end, entered 6 entries in 5 classes! The Yorkshireman in me didn’t see the point in paying the minimum entry fee of £6 (£1 / class entry) and entering less than 6!
Needless to say having only practiced a few times my Honey cake wasn’t anywhere near the best!
My serious entries were:-
2 jars in the Novice Class
2 jars in the Soft set honey Class
6 jars in the For Sale class (Jars labelled and presented ready for sale)
and to make the numbers up 2 separate entries in the Photographic competition.
Bearing in mind that the YBKA is the largest area Bee Keepers Association in the UK with 1600+ members I had hoped to gain some good comments / pointers regarding my exhibits from the show and maybe a placing with one of my photographs!
I was nervous when the judging started but soon forgot about it whilst keeping busy convincing members of the public to try some of the 14 varieties of honey we had on the tasting table!
It was only later that I found out the results. The blood drained from my head and I started to feel dizzy as I went round the exhibit tables.
I had taken 1st prize for one of my photos!!!!
On top of that I had also taken 1st prize for ‘2 jars of soft set honey’!
I didn’t think it could get any better, it being my first ever honey show and I had won 2 of the classes until I came to the table containing the ‘6 Jars for sale’ class. Not only had I taken 1st prize but my exhibit had been given Supreme Champion (Best exhibit in all classes)!
In effect I had won the top prize in the whole show. I was unable to think never mind speak as some of the other beekeepers congratulated me.
I was presented with the ‘Coutryside Live 2013 Champion’ engraved pewter tankard and Blue Ribbon award (BBKA / National Honey Show). Afterwards I was interviewed by a reporter from the Yorkshire Post and needless to say the rest of the day and the following day I had a permanent grin on my face!
The moral of my story is that it really doesn’t hurt to enter a honey show as you never know what might happen. Don’t assume that the same group of experienced beekeepers always win the prizes.
Back in the real world my hives are all prepared for winter with only a little feeding required as most had plenty of stores in the brood boxes and besides adding top insulation and strapping them all down I will just visit the apiaries occasionally, especially after strong winds, to check the hives are upright and there is no damage.
Although this marks an end to the ‘active’ beekeeping season it marks the start of planning and preparation for next year.
Equipment has to be maintained / repaired / built. Any new purchases have to be made / assembled.
It is also a time when it is perfect temperature for making my ‘award winning’ soft set honey. It needs the cooler temperatures for the setting process.
I will finish this post with the photo that gained me First in the photographic class.