Honey Princess 2012
On a hot and muggy afternoon recently, I worked at the MD State Fair in Timonium at the honey booth selling honey products. As a MD beekeeper, you are encouraged to work the fair for a shift to help our group, the Central MD Beekeepers Association, sell members honey.
While there, I got to meet Danielle Dale, a prior 2011 Wisconsin Honey Queen, who competed and won the national title of Honey Princess 2012, to represent the American Beekeeping Federation. Danielle is 20 years old and from Sparta, Wisconsin and is a 3rd generation beekeeper who began beekeeping at age 12.
There is also an American Honey Queen that does similar promotions around the country. For Danielle, being selected as the American Honey Princess is quite an honor, and she gets to travel all over the country as the spokesperson for the American Beekeeping Federation, giving demonstrations and talks about beekeeping. Go to https://www.facebook.com/#!/AmericanHoneyQueenProgram to see Princess Danielle and Queen Alyssa in action. They do lots of fun things like roll beeswax candles with kids, make foods with honey, and give interviews and talks about honey.
The American Beekeeping Federation represents beekeepers and honey producers throughout the United States and relies on Danielle and Alyssa as their ambassadors throughout the country, so Danielle really has to know beekeeping inside and out. And she does! After talking to her and hearing her explain the demonstration hive to the fair goers, she impressed me with her breadth of knowledge. And that is the main criteria that the Honey Princess is selected on. She was poised, and even though the heat was stifling in the exhibition hall, Danielle always looked cool and calm. I was dripping sweat from being there for just a few hours, but Danielle who is from Wisconsin and not used to our sauna-like weather, was there all day and never complained. She was dressed in a dress, tiara, and nylons, so I felt for her!
There were exhibits, bee products such as soap, honeycomb, honey, gift baskets, honey sticks, and candles on display and for sale.
We were deluged with hordes of people who wanted to taste the different varieties of honey and creamed honey for sale. We had 3 varieties from MD – thistle, locust, and wildflower, and 3 from different parts of the country – blueberry, orange blossom, and buckwheat. Buckwheat honey from Wisconsin is dark like molasses, and has a very earthy taste. It is not my favorite but there are people who appreciate it. I love thistle honey from MD which has a floral note that is sweet, but not too sweet like orange blossom honey. When people taste the blueberry honey, they are disappointed that it doesn’t taste like blueberries! I explain that it is the nectar from the blueberry flower in Maine that the bees collect and not the fruit itself.
People are very curious about honey and honeybees and this give me an opportunity to talk to interested people about my favorite hobby. At the demonstration hive which is just an enclosed glass beehive, my husband explained beekeeping to an enthralled audience. The queen is marked so you can easily see her move around and kids are fascinated.
Not many people looked at the chunk honey which is just a large chunk of beeswax dropped into a jar with honey. From my days of extracting honey, I have become addicted to the taste of chewy tasty honeycomb. I tell people who aren’t sure what to do with it, just to take a large spoonful of the honeycomb dripping with the honey and gobble it up. The beeswax is chewy and delicious like bubble gum and you can spit the wax out when you are done extracting every bit of honey from it, or you can swallow it. The honeycomb is actually good for you!
My next favorite is creamed honey. This is simply a very creamy crystallized honey product. It is processed commercially with seed crystals in precisely controlled temperatures to crystallize to a smooth consistency. As anyone who has honey crystallize in the jar, the resulting product can be very grainy and unappetizing. But with the invention of creamed honey in the 1920’s, a mild spreadable butter-like honey that doesn’t drip became possible.
Whenever I made a honey sale, I was sure to tell people to store their honey in a warm place, such as a sunny windowsill. Honey needs to be warm so it will not crystallize into big granulated chunks. Never put honey in the refrigerator! It will crystallize very quickly in cold conditions. If the honey starts to crystallize, just set the entire bottle in a saucepan of water on the stove and heat very slowly. Shake the bottle once in a while to distribute the heat and continue until all the crystals are gone and it is a runny consistency.
Other Honey and Wax Products
There were lots of other interesting honey products and inventions that gave me ideas for my own hives. Seeing all the exhibits inspired me to show or sell some of the things that I have been making out of beeswax at next year’s fair. This combination hive that won the first prize really intrigued me because it combines two very different kinds of hives that you never see together. But it was ingenious how it all fit together. I need to find out more about it because I really can’t explain how it is used.
I have plenty of beeswax that I have accumulated over the years and finally decided to do something with it the past couple of weeks. I am definitely going to take some of my candles and soaps to the fair next year and maybe bring home a blue ribbon!
- The Handbook for Beekeepers – The Beekeeper’s Bible (thegardendiaries.wordpress.com)
- The Bee’s Knees: A Personalized Resource Guide on Beekeeping (redenvelope.com)
- Queen Bee Raw Honey Review (naturalhealthezine.com)
- Praise Bee – September is Honey Month at St Ermin’s Hotel (shinesquad.me)
- Beekeepers at DeLaney farm share sweet science of harvesting honey (denverpost.com)
- Get busy learning about bees (utsandiego.com)
- Beeswax In Skin Care (naturalhealthezine.com)