Written by: Kim Phillips
West Australia’s Honey Festival, May 2017
Honey Festival 2017 kicked off with a glorious Autumn day full of sunshine and a temperature of 30 Degrees Celsius. In previous years, the threat of watermark rain has got us all praying for clear skies but with a forecast of sunshine it had us running for more sun umbrellas instead.
The honey festival is one event within the umbrella of Honey Month which is a National event. We aim to promote the honeybee industry and its products to a broader public. Our central aim is to educate and sensitize the community about the importance and problems of honeybees from a national and international level. With the assistance of commercial beekeepers, we aim to inspire a new generation of beekeepers and bee scientists into the industry.
With the festival growing in momentum each year this time we clicked in just over 3500 visitors. In 2013 on a very stormy, rainy day we estimated 1000 visitors. The enthusiasm of our visitors that year was not dampened by the weather as we all attempted to shelter from the storm and sizzle honey sausages at the same time.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the day of ‘beekeeping’ this year as shown from many different angles including science, training, demonstrations, competitions and children’s activities. The day was an all- time success. Since 2013 Honey Month has been pushing forward to include other functions to create interest and variation. Successful events have included a Slow Foods long table breakfast, breakfast with the beekeeper, children’s bee dress up competitions, Wadumbah’s Indigenous dance of the honey bee and our University of WA scientists displaying bee news at a variety of levels.
A big thanks to our Latino band from South America who entertained the audience with a rich mixture of vocal and instrumental leads. The children soon entered into salsa mode as they waggled through the crowds to demonstrate their waggle dances with Honeybee Sonia Chua and the Wescobee mascot. Proud parents also found their waggle to encourage “baby-bees” to join the fun.
The honourable Alana MacTiernan Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food opened the festival with Leilani Leyland, President of WA Farmer’s Federation, Colin Fleay, Bee Industry Council of WA chairman and Andrea Johnston from Department of Agriculture and Food WA biosecurity. Ms. MacTiernan is enthusiastic to support the developing beekeeping sector and has a good understanding of WA’s valuable honey and pollination stance. Alana proposes to keep the section alive and profitable as she moves and settles into the Agricultural sector. It was a great bonus to have her at the festival as well as her future support in our beekeeping industry.
The event was not without honey and beeswax competitions. Honey judging was open for viewing on the 6th May, a day before the festival, and the judges were again pleased with the quality of honey and sculptures presented. (Honey entrants required a beekeeper’s registration for valid entry)
Best honey - Blaine and Tristan Campbell
Light honey – Kit Wartenweiler
Dark honey – Gordon Carter
Creamed honey - Blaine and Tristan Campbell
Naturally granulated honey – Gordon Carter
Floating comb – Gordon Carter
Light wax – Bert Valenti
Dark wax – Gordon Carter
Wax sculpture - Blaine and Tristan Campbell
A smorgasbord of delectable honey cakes (all baked to the same recipe) were judged and tasted by our honey judge and the delighted winners were:
Honey Cake – Melissa Beasley
Honey cupcakes (Juniors under 12) – Casey Dow
Since the introduction of the Flow Hive there has become a positive and heightened interest in beekeeping. Budding beekeepers are enthusiastic to find out how they should start their new hobby. With this in mind, we continued from last year and included a presentation on flow hives vs. Langstroth hives. The commercial beekeeping sector feels there is a vital importance to make people aware of the need to inspect hives and be aware of floral sources, pest and diseases and legislation to keep a hive healthy. To assist with floral sources Tintuppa Nursery showcased a range of bee friendly plants for our backyards. Backyard beekeeping needs a range of floral sources to enable the survival of bees and other insects. These sources are diminishing at an alarming rate as we bulldoze native plant resources for the spread of residential developments and low maintenance gardens.Native bees were not forgotten and included on the day was a nest sponsored by Bendigo Bank to show an example of how native bees live. Children were encouraged to make their own native beehive which they could take home for their gardens. Children could also find fun at the pollination tent to find the bee fact trail with pollination boards and a quiz. Top bar hives and Hive Mind were welcomed as additional stallholders, displaying the concept of top bar hives and the benefits of remote hive weighing technology.
To compliment this presentation, David Leyland spoke on the importance of healthy bees and bee nutrition whilst Michael Bellman spoke on labeling laws. Both presentations were well received by a large audience. Other events included Mark and Karen Stafford from Ezyloaders who showcased loaders and how they help to take the back-breaking work out of beekeeping. A large audience crowded around to see the hives loaded and unloaded from various beekeeping setups on trucks and utes. Mark also offers assistance to WA owners of his Australian made Ezyloaders.
The committee feel that the 2017 honey festival was a great success reaching a large audience of aspiring beekeepers, hobby beekeepers, honey lovers and many day trippers out in the Swan Valley for a glorious Sunday. This year we were able to create more interest in the community by developing a new string of honey and bee related events thanks to Blaine Campbell. This ranged from events with local naturopaths and wellness centres, a honey degustation dinner at Rendezvous hotel in Scarborough, a stall at the small field day in Gidgegannup and a sundowner with WA’s Food Ambassador, Don Hancey.
A big thanks to our committee members, sponsors and invaluable volunteers who inspire us to keep the event going.
Kim Phillips – President, Bees2Honey Inc
Thank you to our sponsors: Bendigo Bank, John Guilfoyles Beekeeping Equipment, CIBER, Capilano, Scitech, and The House of Honey.