A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Great Yorkshire Show 2011

This Tuesday just gone me and Steph went to the Great Yorkshire Show. Steph's Aunt had kindly offered to baby sit all day so we didn't have a 7 month old to contend with. We set off fairly early from York, waving the still asleep baby goodbye and wishing Steph's aunt good luck for the day. We travelled along the A59 hoping this way would have less traffic but unfortunately we were wrong. We got about 8 miles from where the A59 crosses over the A1(M) and hit the traffic. We were stuck in a tailback for quite some time but once we got past the A1(M) junction it started to speed up and we then made good time and got parked up.

Upon entering the show we bought a programme so we had a map. Prior to setting off we had printed out a list of things we would like to see at the show to avoid just wondering around aimlessly, however we did just end up wondering but saw most things on the list. The first part we went to was where the horses, cows, pigs, sheep and goats where being shown.

After seeing all the farm animals we went a little bit further and saw the hounds. So many dogs in the same place at the same time was rather noisy and I did feel for the people who had a stall right next to them! We then had a look at our map to try to find where the Beekeeping related area was and found that it was a short walk up a hill through the army demonstration area so we made our way over.

When we arrived at the area for Beekeeping we got talking to a guy who was representing Bees Abroad which is a charity that helps provide Bee hives and equipment for people in Africa. This is a fantastic charity that works with the people providing them with the means to help themselves; by providing hives they can then keep Bees rather than having to climb trees to take honey from feral colonies, this way they will be able to harvest honey and wax without destroying the colony setting them up for many years. The guy we were talking to said that through donations they provide plans for them to make their own hives and then the top bars are bought for them from local suppliers. The suits that they were using were made from old mosquito nets and maize bags, all in all the suit costs approx £1.

Next we talked to Dohn, who was one of the people running the course I have just taken. I mentioned to him that my Bees haven't started working the supers yet; he said one way of encouraging the Bees up into the supers was to smear some honey or syrup onto one of the frames. We also got talking to another guy called Malcolm who is a member of Wakefield and Pontefract Beekeepers, I have met him before but never had a chance to talk to him. He gave me his card and showed me a nucleus hive he has made himself from plywood; he did say that there is no need to get the expensive cedar hives and that the hives he has made himself work just as well. He gave me his card and I will probably contact him for a price list and to see what products he does.

Outside there was a guy repairing a skep; a skep is a old Beehive made of reeds and is the traditional image people have when thinking of Beehives. Although they are not used so much for keeping Bees nowadays they are still useful for collecting swarms. The reason they are not used any more for keeping Bees is that there is no way of managing them and to harvest the honey the colony has to be killed.

We then moved onto the honey room but they were judging at the time. There was a small section of the room open with about 10 different honeys available to sample. We tasted a few each and was surprised at how different they tasted. We later returned after the judging had finished and had a look at the various different classes of honey, wax and mead that were on display.

Outside there were 3 hives behind mesh, a very similar set up to what I have but with more hives. There was also a observation hive; this is a hive with a glass front so you can see the inner workings of the hive.

Throughout the rest of the day we visited as many areas as we could. We spent a good while in the food hall trying loads of samples; these included cheeses, curry pastes, sausages, oils with bread, pickles, chutneys, jams, alcoholic goodies and a lot more! We did end up buying some cheeses and sausages. If we had bought everything that we liked we would have needed a new mortgage! All in all we had a excellent day and hope to go again next year but with the baby next time!