June 21, 2024

Create a short “How to … “ guide to help other beekeepers. Topics can be your own idea or can be selected from the following list of titles: “How to recover wax”, “How to make candles”, “How to prepare a sample for microscopy”, “How to carry out an artificial swarm”, “How to prepare exhibits for a honey show”, “How to make Mead” etc. Please incorporate any relevant health and safety advice into your guide.

Entrant ID:  1043969 Entrant Name:  Sue Lang
Entry: How to prepare honey entries for a honey show.

  • Read the show schedule.
  • Check the date of the event, and when entries can be submitted. Work back to the latest date you need to start preparing your entries and put it in your diary.
  • Check what local rules and which National Honey Show rules apply.
  • Source your jars. Make sure they match and are clean inside and out, and undamaged. If you polish them with a cloth, use a lint-free tea towel.
  • Source your lids. Make sure they are clean, undamaged and there is no rust around the top rim.

Runny Honey

  • Choose your honey carefully. It should be very clear and free of debris and granulation. The smell and taste should both be pleasant.
  • Sterilise and warm the jars to about 50C. Pour in the honey carefully so that it does not get on the top of the jars, or the outer rings. Fill to the ‘fill line’ on the inside of the jar.
  • Wipe the top and outer rims with a damp (not wet) cloth and put the lid on.
  • A minimum of 24 hours later carefully undo the lid and check for any air bubbles that may have risen. Remove these with a piece of cling film. Be careful not to drop honey over the top and outer rings. Ensure there is no debris on the underside of the lid and replace it.
  • Nearer the show date, if the honey shows signs of granulation (use a strong torch shining up through the base) heat very gently until the honey is clear.
  • Do not open the jar again, and definitely do not change the lid at the show site. It is acceptable to have some honey (not debris) on the underside of the lid. If you change the lid the smell will disperse.

Soft set honey

  • Prepare this at least one month before the show date. This will ensure that the honey is set. If you tilt the jar and the surface of the honey moves, it will be rejected by the judge.
  • Choose a seed honey that has a very fine granule, soft set needs to be as smooth as possible. Use a pleasant flavoured and nicely scented honey that isn’t too dark in colour.
  • When seeding the honey do not over beat the honey. Once the honey is starting to set allow it to settle for 24 hours before pouring into jars, this allows for any air bubbles to rise to the surface. Clean the top and outer rings as runny honey.

Naturally granulated honey.

  • Any debris in honey will sink to the bottom, so ensure it is well filtered.
  • Choose a honey that has a pleasant scent and flavour, and when sets doesn’t have too large a crystal.
  • Ensure the top and outer rings are clean as per runny honey. Leave jars on a level surface to set.
  • Set honey should not be mobile. The surface may look ‘wet’, a tasting mark should not refill.
Result: rosette-blue


Entrant ID:  1042148 Entrant Name:  Wally Thrale
Entry: Adding wooden slats to zinc queen excluders.

My first queen excluders when I started beekeeping were the Waldron type, i.e. wooden edge around a wire mesh. They are not cheap but when they are placed on the brood box they do not squash bees. However, I found over time that the wood at the corners became worn and, eventually, they broke up and became unusable.

So rather then spend a lot of money replacing like for like I bought the cheaper zinc type queen excluder. The issue with this type of excluder is that bees can be squashed, especially when the first super is returned. The issue of squashing bees has become more important over the years and I do try to find ways to avoid it if possible. So I needed a solution when using flat excluders which avoided buying the more expensive type.

One day whilst walking around a timber yard I noticed that slats of wood were discarded in waste bins and, fortuitously, they were just the right thickness to make sides for the zinc excluders. They were about 8mm thick and 30 to 45mm wide in lengths up to a metre. The right thickness but too wide. However, I bought a jig saw from Aldi which allowed me to cut the pieces in half lengthways so they were then 15 to 22mm wide.

In order to assemble my Waldron type excluder I needed to hold the top and bottom slat firmly together with the excluder in the middle. So I bought a couple of small G clamps from a Pound shop for a few pounds. The clamps allowed me to place a slat under the excluder and another on top to hold everything in place. The next step was to drill two holes through the top slat and through the zinc as well but not into the bottom slat. In order to achieve this the drill bit was reduced to the required length in the chuck to prevent making a hole in the bottom slat. The slats were fastened with two screws from the above; the excluder turned over and a further two screws added. The whole process was repeated with the opposite end of the excluder. Opposite ends of the excluder now have slats affixed. The distance between opposite slats was measured for the side pieces and slats cut to the required length. These were attached as already described. Note that It is important to screw through the top and bottom slats as it makes the framework stronger when removing the excluder from the brood box. Excluders are always propolised firmly by bees and screwing through from top and bottom gives added strength.

I do not recommend using this method with plastic excluders as they are not rigid enough.

All of this was cheap to produce which is in keeping with the beekeeping philosophy – make do with materials that are to hand especially ones that are free!


Result:  –


Entrant ID:  1038006 Entrant Name:  Colin Hall
Entry: How to do Cut Comb

Your chosen frame of honey for cut comb should have soft new wax.  It should be reasonably filled out, ideally a little wider than the top bar of wooden frame, and very well capped.  It would probably come from a top super of well-flavoured summer honey so that there is no pollen in the cells.  Certainly, avoid honey that is likely to granulate quickly such as OSR.  Because the wax is fragile, it will need very careful handling.  Hygiene is important so wear thin latex or nitrile gloves.  Aim for a perfectly shaped, simple, near-natural product.

Early preparation:

  1. Any frame that you will use fo1038006-11bar cut comb should have just a starter strip of special thin foundation attached to the top bar (say a quarter of a normal sheet). Unwired, of course!

Removal and choice of frame: 

  1. Clear the bees, handling with care throughout, so that the cappings are not damaged. At home, check that there are no pollen cells by holding the frame up to a strong light.  Make sure that you have a well-shaped, attractively capped frame, or at least part of it, with no uncapped cells.


  1. You can use a cutter, but I prefer a sharp uncapping knife. 1038006-11bbAim to produce a perfect rectangle of cut comb that will fit perfectly into the box. To do so, make a template out of card.  For Thorne’s Crystal Comb Containers, it should be 3.5 ins by 2.5 ins.
  2. Rest the frame across your uncapping tray so that it is not touching the bottom. Make a light outline using knife and card.
  3. Then gently cut out the piece of comb, ideally trying not to draw honey out onto the surface of the comb. Obviously, take care not to cut yourself.  Either allow the piece to slide down into your other hand or carefully move it upwards and clear of the frame.


  1. Transfer it to a tray where excess1038006-11bc honey can drain off, leaving for several hours. Placing it on a mount helps, also making the next stage easier.

Boxing up:

  1. Very carefully lift it and place within the container. Clean off any smears of honey from the container and seal.


  1. Place in 1038006-11bdthe freezer for a week in case of any wax moth.  Allow to thaw out to room temperature before use.
  2. Store longer term in the freezer. Counter-intuitively, honey stays liquid when frozen.1038006-11be
Result: rosette-gold


Entrant ID:  1042567 Entrant Name:  Gill Brewer
Entry: 1042567-11bHow to be a Good (Beekeeping) Neighbour.
1. Happily lend frame nails to your neighbour the evening they need to hive a swarm, or jars when they suddenly need to bottle honey on Christmas Eve. And sterilize and promptly return any equipment you borrow.
2. Stand on your friend’s ladder when they’re retrieving a swarm from a tree and don’t mind a few bees being shaken onto your head.
3. Forego the derby match on TV in favour of an evening of manual labour helping your neighbour move hives.
4. Breed from your best-behaved colonies and cull queens from any colony that is aggressive/ defensive /followy /nervous… (call it what you will, but we all know the one don’t we, that one we leave till last, where we dread lifting the queen excluder). This ensures there are plenty of docile drones and fewer with unpleasant traits in the local gene pool. This benefits all the beekeepers for several miles around.
5. Practice good swarm control ensuring others’ phones do not repeatedly ring with swarm calls every sunny day in May and June. Clip your queens and deploy some bait hives as an insurance for when you mess up your swarm control. After all, we know bees don’t read the books!
6. Avoid overstocking, so there is sufficient forage year-round for all the colonies in the area.
7. Generously share details of farmers growing sought after crops like borage.
8. Be on call for any beekeeping emergencies whilst your neighbours go on holiday. Likewise, offer help if they are unwell.
9. Monitor the health of your bees, keep Varroa levels low, and so avoid mites spreading to your neighbour’s bees.
10. Never muscle in on your neighbour’s honey outlet. Consider selling them a bucket of honey if they are short.
Result:  –


Entrant ID:  1039854 Entrant Name:  Fiona Cook
Entry: How to …. Carry out an Artificial Swarm


Swarming is a natural part of honeybee reproduction. There are several triggers such as overcrowding (which can happen for various reasons for example, if supers are not put on early enough or bees do not fly due to the weather) or an older queen (that produces less pheromones). If swarming does occur the majority of flying bees and the old queen will leave the hive. They leave the house bees tend for the queen cells. A beekeeper that loses a swarm ends up with a reduced honey crop from that colony and annoyed neighbours. Checking colonies regularly in swarming season (variable but normally April to July) can alert the beekeeper that swarming is about owing to appearance of queen cells on the frames. If queen cells are seen, the artificial swarm technique can be used to fool the bees into thinking that they have already swarmed by providing them a new home.


In most seasons one or more of your colonies will want to swarm – if you are prepared for what to do when you find a queen cell then you can calmly carry out an artificial swarm (see the tips below). In swarming season plan your visit to the apiary and take a spare set of equipment.


  1. If you are intending to expand the number of colonies that you have it is important not to shake the frames with the queen cells on as you may dislodge the larvae from the queen substance – you should brush the bees of the combs as you examine them.
  2. If you have not carried out many artificial swarms it is easy to forget what you need to do – print out the instructions/diagrams (and if you can laminate them) and leave a copy handy to refer to.
  3. You will need two hives – so if you have purchased flat-pack – make sure that your equipment is made up and ready for use.

How to Carry out an Artificial Swarm if you find Queen cells

  1. If you find unsealed queen cells during a routine inspection it will be imperative that you find the queen. Once you have found the queen catch her and put her carefully to one side in a safe place. The original location of the hive will be called position A.
  2. Place a hive stand about 1 meter (3 feet) to the side of the hive containing the queen cells. This will be position B (for the old brood box with brood and non-flying bees).
  3. Carefully pick up the floor and brood box of the colony (with queen cells) and place on to hive stand in position B.
  4. Place a clean floor on the hive stand that you have just removed the brood box from (in Position A).
  5. Place a brood box containing frames of drawn comb (or foundation if no drawn comb is available) onto the floor at Position A. Remove 3 frames from the centre (to give room to insert a frame of brood and to release the queen).
  6. Find a good frame of brood from the brood box at B (ensuring that there are no queen cells on this frame), remove it and place in the centre of brood box A. (You will probably notice that some flying bees will already be returning to A).
  7. Release the queen onto the frame of brood (Position A) and return the 2 frames of drawn comb.
  8. Place a queen excluder on the brood box (Position A).
  9. Shut up hive A by returning the supers, crown board and roof to the hive (Position A).
  10. The frame of drawn comb (or foundation) (from A) should be placed at the edge of the hive in Position B. You should make sure there is plenty of stores available in this hive.
  11. A queen excluder should be placed on the top of the brood box (B) and the hive can be closed.
  12. After about 3 days feed the bees in position B with sugar syrup (earlier might promote robbing).
  13. After 7 days (the day before the virgin queen should remove from the queen cell) move the hive from position B to 1 meter (3 feet) on the other side of the Hive at position A. This will be position C.
  14. Carry out an inspection of the Hive at position A to confirm that the queen is laying and that there are no further queen cells. Routine inspections can then be carried out on that hive.
  15. Leave the hive at position C for 14 – 21 days before inspecting to see if the new queen is laying.

Diagram to show how to carry out an artificial swarm


Result: rosette-red