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Honey on Burns’ Night

On 25th January twenty three beekeepers gathered together on a very cold evening at Kenn Village Hall. Stephen Brain was running a course on honey and how to calibrate and use a refractometer.

The first part of the talk was about what the properties of honey are and what substances it contains. Stephen then explained why it is very important to extract, bottle and store honey very carefully. Temperature and levels of humidity in the environment during all these processes can affect the quality of the honey in the jar.

Stephen had asked if we could bring along a small sample of honey if we had some, and a refractometer if we owned one.  Refractometers can measure % water content in honey. We had a great time testing our refractometers and realised that different refractometers could give slightly different readings from the same honey sample. They weren’t too far out however, but gave everyone an idea where their own refractometer was reading compared to others in the group.

Then the real fun started. We had a honey competition. Everyone’s honey was rated by each person in the group for eg. clarity, colour, aroma and taste just as a honey judge might do at a honey show. It’s all very subjective of course, but it was surprising how we had similar ideas about each honey sample and just how different they all were.  They were all delicious though. One of the group, however, had brought along a sample of shop bought honey and placed it on  the judging table without saying anything of its origin. It certainly was as clear as crystal and a sort of yellow colour but there was very little if any aroma and its taste was, we all decided ……well awful.  Its source was revealed. A mix of EU and non EU honeys. Say no more!

It was a very successful evening. Thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. We certainly learned a lot. I hope Stephen can run another course on honey and refractometers. I am sure it will be popular.

Many thanks, Stephen

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