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Beekeeper’s Notes November 2016: Honey On Show

Published on: 31 Oct, 2016
Updated on: 11 Nov, 2016

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon. In the latest of his monthly notes, he talks about the National Honey Show and adulterated honey being exported around the world.

I heard an excellent speaker earlier this week. It was at the National Honey Show which was being held this year at Sandown Park Racecourse.

Honey displays at the National Honey Show

Row upon row of different honey on displays at the National Honey Show. Look at the huge range of colours from the pale (likely to be spring) honeys to the very dark.

The show draws beekeepers from all over the British Isles and is the opportunity to display and compete with the very best in honey, wax and anything else that could conceivably be bee related.

The contestants go to great length to impress the judges. Honey flavour is only one of the judging criteria.

The best contestants make sure that there are no tiny air bubbles in their precious show entry, that each jar has exactly the right amount of honey – not too much and definitely not too little – and even that all of the jars have the same serial number on the bottom.

Wax creations at the National Honey Show.

Wax creations at the National Honey Show.

Then there is wax moulded into wonderful shapes, photographs, mead, frames of honey on the comb and artistic displays.

Many people go to the annual show just to see the trade stands and possibly grab a bargain.

Mead in competition at the National Honey Show.

Mead in competition at the National Honey Show. This is not the sickly sweet honey flavoured grape alcohol often sold as mead but rather honey and water fermented which improves wonderfully in flavour as it matures.

Others attend to hear the lectures and talks and workshop with some really interesting topics. All of the talks are recorded professionally and are made freely available on the National Honey show website. All in all, it is a marvellous effort, all by volunteers.

The excellent speaker I noted above was Phil McCabe who is the current president of Apimondia, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations. He gave us an overview of issues with bees and beekeeping worldwide. Some of the problems were as expected. Habitat loss and insecticides that are killing bees and other insects were thought to be huge problems.

He said that 10 years ago as he drove across Ireland, he would have to clean his windscreen at the end of the journey to remove dead insects. He doesn’t have to do that any more because we don’t have the same number of insects. That is a really graphic way to demonstrate the reduction in insects everywhere which even I can recognise.

Many attend the National Honey Show just to browse at the many trade stands offering bargains in equipment and new proprietary ideas.

Many attend the National Honey Show just to browse at the trade stands offering bargains in equipment and new proprietary ideas.

There was one unexpected issue he referred to. Adulteration of honey on sale. I suppose it is to be expected. Honey is expensive because it is recognised as having nutritional and healthy properties. That makes it a target for the unscrupulous to add a much cheaper filler such as corn syrup to make the honey stretch much further and make more money.

Articles on the internet refer to cheap Chinese honey being imported around the world. Phil McCabe spoke of China exporting low grade honey to Vietnam who would then pass it on as there own.

I don’t know about this but I do know that my honey and the local honey you see in local butchers, farm shops and health food shops is as pure and as natural as it can be. No microfiltering to remove pollen, no blending and no nasty additions.

It may be more expensive but it is pure. And it tastes much better than supermarket honey.

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Responses to Beekeeper’s Notes November 2016: Honey On Show

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    November 3, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I too recall having to clean dead insects off my windscreen and wonder what has happened to cause the huge drop in their populations. I also wonder what effect the cause (whatever that is) is having on people.

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