Whitney Long

Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia Bimonthly Meeting May 22, 2012

QUALITY HONEY
PREPARING, JUDGING, & EXHIBITING
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What is Quality in Foods?
  Product   Health
  Spoilage,

as represented?
food poisoning, adulterated?

  Packaging   Quantity

and handling
shelf life

  cleanliness,

as represented?   Influence of production process (+ or - )   Aesthetics
  flavor,

visual appeal

  Consistency
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History of Food Competitions
  Now:

USDA, FDA, states, regulate food preparation   Then: Consumers were on their own   County fair competitions:
Assisted consumers with an expert opinion   Offered a way to rate and rank goods   Educated producers on qualities consumers cared about   Encouraged producers to raise own standards Freemarket incentive: top $ for top product   Entertainment No NSACAR on TV; Desperate Housewives meant something else
 
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Honey Shows Today
  Pretty
 

Much the Same Criteria

Product as represented?   Health
  Spoilage,

food poisoning, adulterated? shelf life

   

Packaging and handling
  cleanliness,

Quantity as represented?   Influence of production process (+ or - )   Aesthetics
  flavor,

visual appeal
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 

Consistency
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Honey Shows Today
  Emphasis
  Test

on fun and education

yourself, check your quality   Get honey moisture score – educational   Bragging rights, personal satisfaction   Experience a fair from a new, historic perspective
  Appropriate
 

for all levels

Beginning beekeepers (learn good techniques early)   Advanced (an interesting challenge, take your game to a new level)
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Rating Honey
  ONLY

THINGS THE BEEKEEPER CAN CONTROL   EXTRACTED HONEY CRITERIA
  Density   Absence

of crystals   Cleanliness (lint, dirt, wax, foam)   Flavor (burnt, fermented, Bee-B-Gone)   Uniformity & accuracy of filling   Container appearance

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ADD PHOTO OF JAR

Rating Honey
  Level

playing field

  Anonymous

(no labels; some exceptions)   Same jar (Classic glass 1-LB honey jar)   Honey color classes
  100

point scale   Standard Score Sheet   Rules and criteria weighting vary slightly

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Density
  Above18.6%
  Measured

moisture: honey can ferment (grow yeast, bacteria)
as density, factor of sugar content   Using “refractometer” (light refracfive index)   Honey over 18.6% = disqualified !   Honey below 15% = “suspicious”   Some judges dock points if +/- 16.5%   What to do:
  CAPPED

HONEY ONLY –the bees know!   Dry equipment   Dry extracting day   Hold super in dry location before extracting
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Absence of Crystals
  Crystals

concentrate sugars: separated liquid could be above 18.6% moisture (and therefore ferment)
  Evaluated

using a strong light or polarized light – shows crystals not visible in regular light   What to do:
  Warm   Filter   Watch

out when using last season’s crop
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Clean Honey vs. Crystallized

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Cleanliness (of honey)
  Particles

promote crystallization, suggest poor sanitation
  Subscores

for:
 Lint,

 Wax  Dust
  Evaluate:
  Visual

hair, fiber  Foam
same method as crystals

  Polariscope   Interfere

with refractometer moisture reading
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Cleanliness (of honey)
  Worth
 

a lot of points

  With

customers In competition (30/100)

  What

to do:  Minimize particulates at every step (including in honey supers)  Clean everything touching honey. While drying equipment, avoid lint  Lint free straining material  Extra fine strainer (usually fabric) 13  No pet hair !!! 13

Polariscope (top view)

View honey jar through window in front

Here and here: sheets of polarized film. Place honey jar between them in box

Light source in back – a standard bulb 14

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Naked eye

Polariscope box view

Shows residual foam - every tiny bubble shows. Microscopic crystals sparkle like stars in the sky
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Cleanliness (of honey)
  Wax

and foam float   Dirt settles   Let honey settle before filling jars   Honey in center of tank is often cleanest
  Remove

possible

as much as

  Fill

jar from bottom of source container (use honey gate/valve)
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Flavor
  Beekeeper
  Judge

errors create “off” flavors

tastes sample (on toothpick or stick)   Points off for flavors caused by beekeeper   Flavor due to floral source not judged   What to do:
  Follow

directions if using chemicals in the hive   Avoid high moisture/fermented honey   Avoid overheating honey   Watch uncapping knife temperature (scorch)
  Something’s

points here!

really wrong if you don’t get full
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Uniformity & Accuracy of Filling
  When

rules call for 1 pound honey: provide exactly 1 lb of honey   Classic honey jar ONLY for extracted honey
  “Pint’s

a pound world round…except for honey”

  Evaluated
  Look

against jar’s fill ring

lid).

for the ring on each jar (below threads for

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Correct Jar, Correct Fill
Threads for lid *Fill line Shoulder of jar

* Fill line or ring is a continuous ring molded into the glass around lower jar mouth
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Uniformity & Accuracy of Filling
  What
  Aim

to do:

for the middle of the fill ring.   Mind the meniscus   Be precise: +/- 1 millimeter often the difference between 1st prize and 2nd prize   Judges differ. Do your best, the rest is luck

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Container Appearance
  Immaculate,
  Sticky,

shiny, perfect jar suggests good sanitation and long shelf life
smudgy, stained jar is unappealing, messy, attracts ants   Chipped jar, or scratched/dented lid, or re-used lid seal can affect storage life
 

Judged by visual inspection and same methods as crystals
  Some

judges subtract points if the jar has been tipped over (honey on the lid interior). Controversial. Be prepared for this possibility. Some people change the lid just before entering show
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15/20 9/10 28/30 20/20 8/10 8/10

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Container Appearance
  What

to do about it:

  Clean

everything   Choose most perfect jars and lids   Watch out for water marks, soap scum, adhesive   Learn to fill perfectly with no honey on threads or rim: absorbs moisture from air and eventually runs down jar (sticky!); wiping can leave lint   Take precautions against finger prints on glass   Overall presentation counts   Mfgr’s ID# etched into jar is normal, no points off

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Judging Criteria Available
  Extracted

honey   Comb honey   Chunk honey   Bees wax (block; candles = craft)   Honey cookery   Fair theme (2012: “Live Green, Learn Green”) Other   Frame of honey comb*   Labeled honey or set of jars*   Mead and specialty items*   More…. * At larger fairs
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Grading Honey Color
  Standard
  Water

colors
* Most typical in

white   Light amber*   Medium amber*   Dark amber   Dark
  Color

Northern VA

standards exist but are not widely used (expensive and hard to find)   You may enter one tem per class   Judge may rearrange entries (to make more even distribution between classes)
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  August

9-12, 2012 (Thursday-Sunday)   All BANV members eligible for honey show regardless of residence   Free entry

Arlington County Fair

  PLEASE
  Fair

ENTER!

needs honey and beekeeping product entries to ensure show continues!!!
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Entering Arlington’s Fair
  READ

RULES! Internet search “Arlington County Fair 2012 competitive entries”   Drop off honey sample in 1 lb jar
  Wednesday

evening   Thursday early morning
 

1) Stop at registration
  Fill

out entry form (available online or at fair)   Fill out hang-tag (available at Arlington libraries or at fair; tie onto jar neck)
 

2) Carry sample to honey station
  Check

in with honey superintendent (that’s me) to be sure entry is recorded at station
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Arlington Fair Judging
  Judged
  No,

late Thursday morning

you cannot watch if you entered   Judges are arranged by Fair Board through State Apiarist or VA Cooperative Extension
  Experienced

honey judges or beekeepers with judging experience (from another county)

  This

is a good “beginners fair” – competition is not fierce
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Arlington Fair Awards
  Results
  1st

can be viewed in person Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon
place – blue ribbon   2nd place –red ribbon   3rd place – white ribbon   If there are enough entries: champion rosettes, and grand champion rosettes (cash prizes)

  Three

kids’ age groups, adults judged separately
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After the Fair
  Pick

up your entries Sunday afternoon   Usually someone can help pick up yours if you can’t make it

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BANV HONEY BOOTH
  BANV

honey sales booth runs concurrently.   Observation hive   You can sell honey or volunteer to be a helper.

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Observation hive at the BANV booth

Observation hive’s green commute after the fair Yes, the bees are still in there!

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More Information
  Honey
  Use

Shows: Criteria and How to Prepare

search engine “Honey judging” and “Honey show”   Eastern Apiculture Society – new web page on honey competitions (“Resources” pages) http://www.easternapiculture.org/   U.K. sites have some detailed information and advice

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More Information
  Other

Honey Shows

  Maryland

State Fair – has allowed VA residents to enter in past years   Eastern Apiculture Society – August 13-17, 2012 Vermont (different state each year)   For kids: 4-H Fair in Fairfax County   Some local beekeeping associations sponsor events in MD and VA   Virginia State Fair (2012 cancelled)
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In memory of Alan Fiala, Qualified Honey Judge, BANV

Let’s Look at some honey
Whitneylong@earthlink.net
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