I got there early, gaining entry with the free ticket with which I’d been issued, taking with me a folding chair and, in a tin, the floor scrapings from the National on Portland, also a little sign saying ‘Portland Honey’. I dropped them off at the bee tent, placing the sign next to my jars on the ‘for sale’ bench and then spent 90 minutes striding up and down between rows of tents. Overhead a microlight aircraft was accompanied by a flock of geese. Some of the tents were closed for judging. I got back to the bee tent by noon to meet my pal who didn’t show up. He arrived much later, having overslept! I dashed down to the end of the row and bought a pasty on a food hall and a pint of best bitter in a beer tent. I consumed them and then went back to the bee tent to spend the next 4 hours.
I was on the ‘Information’ table, next to the observation hive. I didn’t get much time to use the chair I’d brought! There was a constant stream of people asking questions and picking up leaflets. There was a BBKA imitation WBC hive used as a collection box as the useful leaflet on bees was £1 a time. Skimming through, I saw that there was a photo of my friend Vanessa! Some put in £2 coins; some donated without picking up the leaflet. Many people asked me concerned questions about the fate of the poor bees. I showed several people what real varroa mites looked like, from my collection in the tin.
Lots of people wanted to take up beekeeping and I advised them as best I could. I may have gained another apprentice! She is an ecologist who has a potential site at Bere Regis, which is not too far away. One elderly gentleman landowner wants bees on his land. His cousin, from whom he inherited the property used to be chairman of the Dorset BKA, many years ago. I gave him my card so he can get in touch and enable me to put him in contact with the local BKA whose details I don’t carry in my head. My apprentice, Sammy, appeared with her Dad. She’s got back into college to do Art and has reduced her working hours at Asda and so would be able to fit in some playing with bees.
My neighbour on the observation hive is fairly new to beekeeping and, listening to his spiel, I noticed errors creeping in so took the opportunity to correct him when the audience had moved on. He seemed grateful and adjusted his ‘facts’ accordingly.
The Honey Show judge, Tom Salter, whom I know, presented the prizes late in the afternoon. He had had to get up at 5.30am to get there on time. It’s a long way from Weston- super- Mud.
I noticed that there was nuch less of the Portland honey on the shelf at the end of the day than at the beginning, which is good! I’m going back to the show today with some family to look at it at leisure as a paying customer. The weather looks a bit greyer today.