Sweet process that goes into picking perfect pot of honey
EVEN with the fairy floss and other tasty treats on offer at the Ipswich Show, there is something even sweeter that draws in Peter Warhurst.
He is the judge of the apiculture section, responsible for picking the top honey products on show.
With more than 100 entries to sort through, ranging from liquid honey, candied honey, creamed honey, honeycomb and beeswax, it can add up to a long day.
Each category within the section is assessed on its own separate, stringent criteria.
For example, liquid honey is judged on its aroma, flavour, how "clean” it is and its density - which is measured using a device called a refractometer - with the bottle needing to be full about 1cm from the top.
While a meticulous process, Mr Warhurst has the envious job of tasting most of the entries over the course of several hours.
His tremendous knowledge of the field leads him to pore over honey products that have come from experienced entrants and newcomers.
"It's interesting how various people produce their entries,” he said.
"Now we've got the flow hive and that has caused us some problems.
"People don't know when the honey is completely ripened and when they push the taps in and run the honey out, we've had some that really shouldn't be called honey because it will ferment.
"Once the density of the honey goes below 78 per cent or it's 22 per cent water, it's likely to ferment and if it ferments you get mead.”
Mr Warhurst, of Warwick, got his first beehive in 1963 and joined the the Department of Primary Industries in the 1970s, spending more than 30 years in their apiary section.
He retired seven years ago and has written a book on beekeeping.
"Warwick was one of the major centres for beekeeping because that Traprock country between Stanthorpe, Warwick, Inglewood and Texas used to produce around 45 per cent of the state's honey,” he said.
"Now it's down to 5 or 6 per cent (because of land clearing).”
Long-time apiculture steward buzzing for a big year
STANDING proudly in front of the cabinets filled with jars of honey, beeswax and honeycomb for the 46th year, Val Haag could not hide her excitement at an especially prosperous year.
She has been the chief steward of the Ipswich Show's apiculture section for almost 50 years and was buzzing with the number of entries this time around.
The 115 entries were a big jump from the 81 recorded last year with competitors mostly coming from Brisbane and the greater Ipswich region.
Her interest in all things honey stemmed from her grandfather, who shared his love for bees with her.
"I didn't have bees myself but my grandfather did,” she said.
"I just like the honey industry.”
It's her passion that keeps her coming back each year and she was "not far away” from half a century in her position.
"The beeswax is getting more intricate with their designs and pieces now than they used to,” she said.
"One in particular that I like is a basket made with flowers, it's very pretty.
"I want to thank all the exhibitors because without them we wouldn't be here.”
Val's husband Syd is another person synonymous with the local show who has no plans of slowing down.
He has more than 100 entires into the farm produce section this year.