September and October are the months when honey shows usually take place all over the country — and beekeepers compete with one another to win coveted prizes for the best honey and honey bee related produce.
A honey show is fascinating and you would be amazed at the range of honey types that are available.
If you want to visit one soon, then the final honey show of 2015 will be the Co Dublin Honey Show which takes place on November 7 in Rathmines.
You may have already visited an agriculture show during the summer, but honey shows are a different experience as they are entirely dedicated to the display of that wonderful amber food of the gods and the products of the honeybee.
The British National Honey Show is about to take place at the end of October in Weybridge near London, and is the largest of such events on these islands.
This honey competition attracts huge entries of a very high standard from many parts of the world.
Among the competitors at the show will be a very dedicated group of Irish beekeepers, and if going by last year, we are bound to return to Ireland with many of the top prizes for our honey.
There will be a number of Irish judges assisting at the British Honey Show, as Irish beekeepers are highly regarded connoisseurs of honey.
The Irish equivalent of the British National Honey Show, is held each year in July during the annual Summer School in Gormanstown, Co Meath, and that attracts over 100 exhibitors from Ireland and the UK.
Showing off honey is something beekeepers love to do, and when the international congress of beekeeping, otherwise known as Apimondia, was held in Ireland in 2005, we insisted that a honey show was incorporated into the Congress.
This set a precedent and now the world honey show is part of the Apimondia congress. Irish beekeepers tend to do well at these biennial world honey shows.
The event was held this year in Daejeon, South Korea, where Irishman Philip McCabe, was elected president, (congratulations to Philip). Apimondia will be in Istanbul in Turkey in 2017.
If you have never visited a honey show, I would really encourage you to go along, as you will be amazed at the different types of honey and bee products on display.
There will be a class of honey called run honey, which what you usually buy in a jar in the shop, or from the beekeeper.
Run honeyhas different hues because the honeybees get the nectar from different plants and jars may be labelled and unlabelled, depending on the competition.
Commercial producers of Irish honey will be there competing with one another, too. And there will be newcomers or novices displaying honey in the hope that their virgin honey will gain recognition as a top class product.
There will be chunk honey, which is a lovely piece of perfectly cut comb immersed in ajar full of liquid honey and also section honey, on display.
Section honey could be regarded as old-style honey, where honey is in a little square timber box which was directly filled by the bees.The honey is eaten directly from the comb and is delicious. However, section honey is not easy to produce well and is rarely produced today.
I often get asked by people, ‘have you any sections?’, but alas the effort required in producing section honey means that beekeepers must charge high prices for it.
Slightly different from section honey is comb honey, which is a piece of comb honey cut from a frame of honey and placed in a plastic container weighing 227 grams.
Full frames of honey will also be on display in the honey show allowing an insight into how bees fill the wax up with honey.
Other types on display will be granulated honey, soft-set honey and creamed honey.
I would really encourage you to visit the next honey show — and if you are in or near Dublin in November the Co Dublin Honey Show is taking place on November 7.
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