This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

A fair entry quandry

A beekeeper sent me this email about entering a county fair for competition in the honey division. My response follows.
I entered a pint of honey for the heck of it this year in the a County Fair. I was the only one that brought honey…I received a second place ribbon with no explanation or feed back. When I brought the family to see the fair, I asked them for feedback and they couldn’t provide any, said the judge who was brought in was especially picky and used the state criteria. When I read the state fair book online, it doesn’t really go into prep detail. I am just looking to learn because it was my first time.

It was decanted twice, caramelly red amber honey with hardly any froth and suspended pollen. Debris at the bottom was nil. No air bubbles, but I did notice that someone had handled the jar and smudged it up with finger prints after I had cleaned the jar at drop-off time. The ring and lid was a preserves lid brand new.

Any suggestions or info would be great. Might be a handy blog post for others.


My response:
What did the premium book for the honey entry say? You have to follow the entry criteria to the letter.
Was the bottle full? If it says one pound of honey they will weigh it.
If there is froth on top that is undesirable, points off.
Air bubbles in the honey, points lost
Any debris in honey, points lost.
Moisture content above 16 %, points lost. As the moisture goes up the points go down.
Color of honey. If it is off color of the entry i.e. Light amber and it is lighter or darker, points lost.
Does it taste like honey. Any off flavor will cost you points.
All of these little things add up to a total score. It is hard to get all the points in every category, but you can get most of the points with attention to detail.
At the State Fair an entry in a canning jar would be disqualified.
Remember this is competition. The judges are looking for a quality product. Care has to be put into every jar.
The State Fair entry is 12 one pound jars. Uniformity is key. They ask for glass or plastic jars. The glass will get higher points when the judges put the jars in front of a polara-scope.
I do recommend every beekeeper enter the fair it makes you a better bottler and you will turn out a better quality product because you learn how to do it. It is unfortunate that you did not get input from the judge because it is how you learn.
At the State Fair you will get a score card so you know how your entry stands. They also have a novice class that will make a easier possibility of a ribbon your first time.
Check out class 97 in the Ag-Hort-Bee premium book. At the end of every class entry there is a score criteria for what the judges are looking for and the points rewarded.
That is great you made an entry. It helps the whole beekeeping industry when we can show case our products. Plus you may win some money and bragging rights of having award winning honey.