There are four beekeeping associations in Kent, namely the Kent Beekeepers Association with thirteen branches across the county and three independent associations – Dover, Medway and Thanet. All the associations are members of the British Beekeeping Association. It is a mixture of members from across Kent who attend the three day Show and put on interesting educational demonstrations and displays.
There are lots of different types of bee in the UK – around 250 species in fact with 24 species of bumblebees, approximately 225 species of solitary bee and just a single honeybee species. The Bee and Honey area was set in a lovely green part of the Showground next to Murrain Wood, experts were on hand every day to explain the truth and dispel the myths about these wonderful creatures.
We all take honey for granted as a product and many of us know that honey is made by bees – but do we really know the journey from flower to jar? The Kent Bee-keepers had a permanent display to explain the wonderful way in which nature works together to achieve this feat.
Visitors could taste the different honey available and learn about why there is such a wide variety of colours and flavours. Honey can be made from all pollinating flora, rapeseed makes a lovely honey popular with children whilst adults tend to prefer a wild flower honey which has a stronger taste.
There was a wide selection of jarred honey and honeycombs to buy with an opportunity to taste them beforehand. Visitors were also able to see the entries in the Honey Show along with the judges marks and comments. Honey Cosmetics were available to buy, with the producer on hand to explain the wonderful properties and advantages of this natural product.
Visitors were also able to take part in making their own candle to purchase. The first method was candle dipping – a traditional way to make candles. Beeswax is often used for hand dipped candles because it is a slow burning wax and the layers go on thicker, resulting in less dipping required to get a reasonably thick candle. This method involves using hot melted wax. Another method for making candles is to roll them, visitors will get the opportunity to roll a candle using beeswax sheets and a primed wick. Another activity, particularly enjoyed by children is to make a solitary Bee House with the help of experts.
One of the biggest draws to the area was the Observation Hives, where visitors were able to see a working colony where 98% are workers, approximately 200 are drones and one Queen Bee. Next to the Observation Hive will be The Bumble Bee Trust and information about the short haired Bumble Bee.
Experienced Bee-keepers took part in Live Bee Demonstrations, four times per day with an experienced narrator talking through the day to day hive activity. This demonstration was not only informative and educational but a wonderful opportunity to understand the important role bees play in the food chain. It is estimated a third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees, honeybees are responsible for the major part of this pollination and therefore play a crucial role in ensuring we can grow a varied range of produce in the UK.
The Live Bee Demonstrations took place on all three Show days at 10am, 12noon, 2pm and 4pm.
Information on the Kent Bee-keepers Association can be found on their website. http://www.kentbee.com/