Written by Gautam Shankar, 8th Grader
In November of 2019, we attended the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association’s Annual Meeting in Medway, MA. We entered the honey judging competition for the first time because we wanted a new challenge and wanted to show off our honey and beekeeping capabilities. We were all very excited to compete and really wanted to win or at least get a ribbon for second or third!
To help us learn about the honey judging process, Kathy our Head of School, asked a friend from the Norfolk County Beekeeper’s Association, Kathy Varney, to come and talk to us. Ms. Varney has ribboned in countless honey and wax competitions across the state, and has several best in show awards. She shared her expertise and words of advice as we started the research process to prepare for our first competition.
Never having done this before, we prepared two jars (a requirement) from three different harvests and two hives. We went through the steps with each set so that we could decide which set looked the best for submission. Criteria for honey judging include: cleanliness, appearance, density/water content, freedom from crystallization, accuracy of fill, and flavor.
Preparing for the honey judging was an arduous process. We had to strain our honey from our Langstroth hives twice and our AZ hive three times because it was so thick - the extra strain helped ensure that there was no crystallization or any other impurities in the honey. We had to clean the two jars we submitted multiple times to make sure that there was nothing on them, not even a fingerprint. Right before the competition we carefully cleaned the jars one last time with a microfiber cloth to get rid of anything else on the jars.
We ended up coming in third place out of fifteen in the “Best two jars of amber honey” category; which we all thought was pretty good for the first time. Our honey received 81 points out of 100. There were some impurities in our honey and our jars were underfilled so that is why we lost 19 points. Considering that this was our first time, we were very happy with the results. We hope to do even better next year now that we have some experience with the process.