by Alan Smith
We are not able to hold the South Cheshire Honey Show this year (2020) because of meeting restrictions imposed as part of coronavirus control. However, you can still try out making entries for many of the classes, even though you can’t actually show them this year. Wax craft, mead, art and confectionery classes can all be tried and if you turn out a great picture, mead or candles, they should last till next year! The confectionery won’t, but you can still enjoy making it and then eating or drinking the results.
Here are some hints and tips, which are also included in the Schedule. If you’re not sure how to do something, drop me a line and I’ll advise you or put you in touch with an expert.
For honey you need standard honey jars without any blemishes and with perfect new matching lids. The Judge won’t worry if liquid honey has got on the underside of the lid, but will check the aroma as part of the judging, so keep the aroma inside by leaving the lid on. Make sure the honey is filled to the bottom of the threads so no airspace is visible under the lid. The supplied labels go midway between the jar seams, about an inch up from the bottom of the jar and at the same height on each jar shown.
Frames of honey are shown in a wooden case with a sliding top and glass sides. Fix the supplied labels to the top of the frame and to the case. The top of the case should slide smoothly but the case is not included in the judging. Clean excess burr comb off the frame sides without touching the honeycomb.
For wax the aroma, surface and colour are judged, paler wax scoring more highly. Check for foreign bodies in the wax by using a bright torch and get the wax clean during filtration. Wax blocks need to be the right weight, with a flat top achieved by slow cooling (put clean bricks in the oven while it’s heating and prepare the blocks last thing before bedtime so there are no vibrations during the cooling). Show wax blocks under a cake dome (which is supplied) but don’t stick the label on the dome!
Candles should have their wicks trimmed to the same height and with the wick standing up straight as it may be lit. Watching the candle burn is an important part of the judging. Choose the right size of wick for the size of candle. Show tall candles in matching candlesticks and fix the supplied labels to each candlestick in the same place so they match. Short candles which stand safely by themselves can be shown on a fireproof plate (not supplied) and stick a label on the rim of the plate where it can be seen.
For mead use a standard clear homebrew wine bottle with a distinct shoulder and a punt on the bottom. Fill the bottle to within an inch of the bottom of the cork. Use a white plastic-topped cork and wipe the cork to remove any bits before stopping the bottle, so nothing drops off the cork on to the surface of the mead. Your brew should be beautifully clear when inspected with a torch behind, and no sediment visible on the punt. This usually means preparing the bottle a few days before the show, as those done earlier may produce a bit of sediment even if the mead is clear and bright when you fill the bottle. Labels go on the bottles between the seams and about an inch up from the base.
Fresh-baked confectionery is shown under a supplied cake dome on a supplied paper plate. Fix the entry label to the plate rim not the dome, and also to the recipe card if required which you show with your entry. Confectionery in jars is shown free-standing, fix the entry label to the jar about an inch up from the base, and also to the recipe card if required which you show with your entry. Your jar is not included in the judging for confectionery but must be clear to show the contents. Don’t put a wax disc on the surface, because the quality of the surface is judged.
Good luck with your showing and don’t forget to enjoy yourself!