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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Entering honey contests

I'm no expert in honey contests, but my comments on my videos about bottling honey have brought questions about honey contests, so I thought I'd post about it. Honey contest judging is based mostly on how the beekeeper handles the honey. The beekeeper doesn't make the honey so the honey itself is only occasionally judged for taste in such things as black jar contests. The honey judge does taste the honey and points would be taken off if the honey tasted bad or tasted contaminated, which could reflect on how the beekeeper handled the honey.

The main honey judging is on how you handle the jar of honey. This comes down to packaging cleanliness. You are not supposed to have any human fingerprints on the inside or outside of the jar. There should be a clean rim of the jar - not sticky honey between the top of the jar and the lid. When you are cleaning the jar for entry into the contest, you have to be careful not to get cloth fibers in the jar - a man's linen handkerchief is recommended for avoiding fibers.

There are guidelines on the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers web page for how to prepare your honey for a contest. Another wonderful guide on how to think about preparing honey for honey contests is here. Ultimately it comes down to how clean your jars are from lid down and how clear your honey is (indicating how you filtered it). But as the writer in the University of Florida guide referenced second says, "Judging honey is not like evaluating other commodities. The product itself is not examined so much as the care the exhibitor takes in putting it up for show."
However, honey should taste like the delicious honey it is, and the judges do taste the entries.

Here is an example of the honey contest rules for EAS 2006 honey contest. You'll notice that while taste is one of the items to which the judge pays attention, it is last on the list. I noted in red the cleanliness issues:

Honey Classes
Class # Description
H1 Three 1lb. jars of honey: Extracted Light
H2 Three 1lb. jars of honey: Extracted Medium
H3 Three 1lb. jars of honey: Extracted Dark*Entries must be in 1 lb., glass queenline type jars and may have metal or plastic lids.
International entries may use 500 gram universal jars. (see clause 3 on show rules)
H4 Twelve 1lb. jars of honey: ExtractedEntries must be in 12 identical 1lb. queenline type jars with metal or plastic lids.
International entries may use 12 identical 500 gram universal jars. (see clause 3 on show rules)H5 Three section boxes of comb honeyH6 Three packages of cut comb honey: 4 inch squareH7 Three round section of comb honeyEntries must be in the appropriate container: Window cartons, round section lids-both
transparent, cut comb box-all sides transparent. (see clause 3 on show rules)H8 Three 1lb. jars of creamed honeyH9 Three 1lb. jars of chunk honey
Entries must be in cylindrically uniform “wigwam” jar or in the new “shoulder” jar.
(see clause 3 on show rules)H10 One frame of honey: suitable for extraction
Frames may be of wood or plastic and should be housed in a glass sided bee proof enclosure. (see clause 3 on show rules)1. All entries must be the product of the exhibitor’s apiary and have been produced since the previous EAS Honey show.2. Entries will be judged on their individual merit. Cleanliness of the container, lid or hardware, uniformity of wax cut, proper fill of jar or container, cleanliness and clarity of the honey, moisture content, aroma and taste will be considered by the judges. In creamed honey texture and firmness will also be considered.
3. No tamper-proof seals.

Now I'm no expert - I've only entered one honey contest for my bee club last year. My chunk honey did get second place, but I have learned a lot more since then about how to put it in the jar.




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