After spending all day baking and decorating cupcakes on a Saturday it was time for the competition at the ABKA Honey Show on Sunday.
Actually, we had a few things to do before the show, I went for a run and swim in Machynlleth and Morgan went to Junior Triathlon Training for an hour afterwards giving Anna and I the chance to have a bacon sandwich, cake and coffee in the cafe together. We then headed home, gathered our cakes and honey and headed into Aberystwyth with delicately decorated cupcakes on our laps.
The ABKA Honey Show is a fairly informal affair and there weren’t a huge number of entries in the various categories. In fact there were no entries for a couple of the classes and only one or two in some, but the “Ornamental display incorporating wax”, and the “Cupcake” classes were the most hotly contested. We all sat around drinking, tea, eating cake and biscuits, and chatting for a while. Once everyone was there, John got down to the serious business of judging the entries while everyone else took part in the annual honey tasting.
The honey tasting is a blind tasting challenge where we all taste each others honey and rate it on a scale of 1-3. The scores are then tallied and the winners announced. We had 10 different honey’s to taste this year. Mike had entered two as he had so much honey but unfortunately they both scored right at the bottom of the list in 9th and 10th place. Ours scored in the middle, coming in 5th place amongst a number of very similar honeys all with very close scores. At the top of the list was Bill Rushden’s Honey.
It was interesting to taste the differences between so many honeys all produced within a fairly small geographic range, but there were quite a few similarities too and most looked fairly similar in the jars, with just subtle differences in colour and consistency.
After more tea and biscuits an with everyone on a bit of a sugar rush, John was ready to announce winners from the show classes. The Honey and wax classes were taken quite seriously and he explained how he had judged them and the points that are taken into consideration within such classes at larger shows. John said that the light honey class was an exceptional class and that all entries would have done well at more prestigious shows. Robert Hughes took the top honours, but all entries were awarded a prize as they were so good. There weren’t any entries for the dark honey class and the single entry from Richard in the granulated honey class didn’t get such an exalted appraisal. In fact, even though it was the only entry into the class, Richard’s granulated honey only got 2nd prize and John put that down to the taste, commenting that he “wouldn’t even put it on his toast!”
Richard redeemed himself however, as his frame of wax ready for extraction was described as an “absolute beauty” and won best in show, and the cakes of wax were very god too.
The ‘Ornamental display incorporating wax’ and the ‘Cupcake’ classes were very difficult to judge and John commented on this, saying that it was very subjective and very much a personal preference as all entries were very good and deserved recognition in their own right. The mushroom sculpture in the ornamental display class was a worthy winner in our opinion though.
And so onto the cupcake class, the only one we had entered and so the one of most importance to us! We had made some finishing touches to ours before presenting them. I’d made a honeycomb patterned royal icing base and a little name plaque, Anna presented hers on a carpet of green and Morgan made a lego tray for his.
As well as our three entries, there were entries from Phil Regan with four cupcakes decorated with different types of flower, one from Helen Cariss with decorations of hives and beekeeping equipment made from royal icing and from Ann M some very eye-catching, bees decorated with licquourice on wobbly leg stands. They were all very different and we too would have had a hard time judging them. Even our three entries were quite different. I’d gone for a very precise, fresh, artistic design incorporating honeycomb patterned white chocolate disks, Anna had gone for pretty sunflower cupcakes and Morgan had four different bee inspired designs.
Top honours went to Ann with her wobbly bees – They were indeed eye-catching and fun and so deserved to win in what was never meant to be a ‘serious’ category. Phil took 2nd place and we did at least walk away with a prize as my cupcakes took 3rd. We of course would have scored them differently, but we are also very biased!
All in all it was a good fun afternoon out and one of the reason we keep bees. We’ve never done beekeeping to produce lots of honey or sell products of the hive, it’s always been a hobby and these meeting with ABKA are always enjoyable. The fact that we had fun challenging ourselves the day before baking and decorating cupcakes just adds to that . We wouldn’t have done it otherwise, but it all expands the hobby and we ended up having a good, fun, family day in doing things in the kitchen together. We now have loads of very sweet and sickly cupcakes to eat as well, so it’s a win-win situation all round.
We left as we always do,pledging to enter more categories next year. We just need to make some things from wax and, fingers-crossed, extract enough honey to enter some honey too.