Fermanagh Beekeepers’ Association held their 11th Annual Honey Show at Florencecourt House on Saturday 23th August 2014. The judge was Jim Fletcher of Comber. Jim is very well qualified and has judged all over Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, including the UK National Honey Show. His Steward, Teresa McVeigh, said afterwards that she had learned a lot about the presentation of honey and products of the hive. She was impressed by the meticulous way in which Jim approached the work, checking weights and other measurements where the schedule demanded it. Entries were down by about 5% on last year, perhaps due to the Show taking place before many had extracted their honey at this extremely busy time of year for beekeepers. Speaking afterwards, Jim said that there are many people who keep bees but who do not think about showing their product and thus advertising their variety and quality. “Showing is an important part of beekeeping and I congratulate those who had put such effort into their entries. The standard is exceedingly high although some entries didn’t meet the rules as set down in the schedule, competitors should make sure that they read the requirements and pay attention to them.” He also mentioned especially the beekeeping aid (two different devices to make taking samples of bees for disease testing easier) shown by Ethel Irvine saying it was the most useful he had ever seen in all the Honey Shows which he had attended. Jim was most impressed by the honey produced by Attracta Jones who was a novice exhibitor and who received the award for the best product of the hive in the Show. He concluded by saying how much he appreciated the warm welcome and hospitality and that it was always a pleasure to judge in Fermanagh. Noel McAllister, Chairman, thanked all those who had made the effort to support the show and welcomed visitors from neighbouring Association, Digges and District. He congratulated those who had won prizes in the various classes and said that the Committee would appreciate it if more members of the Association could enter the Show as the preparation of exhibits raised the standards of their hive products on offer to the public. He expressed the gratitude of the Association to Avril Campbell, Honey Show Secretary, and her helpers, for the work they had put into the organisation, to all those who helped with the staging of exhibits, and finally, to Jim for travelling such a distance to judge at the Show. Jim presented the awards at the end of the afternoon.
The Honey Show was open to the public on Sunday afternoon and the response from those who visited was very gratifying. The exhibits drew the attention and admiration of young and old. It was obvious from speaking to visitors that the awareness of the benefits of honey to personal health was growing apace, as was the appreciation of locally produced honey. There were inquiries as to how to take up beekeeping as a hobby with some signing up for the classes tutored by members of the Association, in cooperation with CAFRE, as well as discussion on the latest treatment, MAQS, for the control of Varroa mite now that Apistan and Bayvarol are no longer effective.
As usual, the observation hive, with its marked and clipped queen, excited even those who have a dislike of bees. It gives the opportunity to further explain what goes on in the darkness and secrecy of the hive and what the beekeeper’s role is, according to the various seasons of the year. Young people are particularly fascinated and ask many penetrating questions about the life cycle of bees.
Fermanagh Beekeepers also had a stand on Monday at Florencecourt House, with the observation hive, a video on the annual work of the beekeeper and activity of the bees, honey for sale and beekeepers present to answer questions.
The Association expresses its thanks to those who gave of their time and expertise to make Sunday and Monday afternoons such agood advertisement for beekeeping in County Fermanagh.