Your Source For Beekeeping News, Information and Entertainment
Nov. 28, 2022

The UK's National Honey Show Interviews and Ed Colby (S5, E24)

One of the largest and perhaps oldest honey shows in the world in the UK’s National Honey Show. The first show opened in 1923 at the Crystal Palace, in London. While the National Honey Show took an understandable break during the second world war,...

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One of the largest and perhaps oldest honey shows in the world in the UK’s National Honey Show. The first show opened in 1923 at the Crystal Palace, in London. While the National Honey Show took an understandable break during the second world war, it started up afterwards and is an established annual October event ever since. 

The National Honey Show is a three day show highlighting honey and other hive products. There are over 250 competitive classes or categories with entries from around the world. Certainly enough to captive beekeepers of any field of interest.

Besides the competition, the National Honey Show features speakers and a large trade hall full of vendors and products.

In today’s episode, special Beekeeping Today Podcast UK correspondent Louisa Cartwright talks with National Honey Show attendees regarding their impressions of their experience at the show.

Many beekeepers keep their colonies on property owned by others. Most of the time, this presents no problem. But one of the unique challenges during the fall is the addition of hunters to the woods near the fields holding colonies. What happens when these two worlds overlap? Ed Colby is here this week to read from his book, "A Beekeeper's Life: Tales from the Bee Yard", sharing his experience in the middle of this Venn Diagram!

We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.

Thank you for listening!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura


This episode is brought to you by Global PattiesGlobal PattiesGlobal offers a variety of standard and custom patties. Visit them today at and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

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Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at

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Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; A Fresh New Start by Pete Morse; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

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S5, E24 – The UK's National Honey Show Interviews and Ed Colby


Jeff Ott:Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news, information, and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott-

Kim Flottum:-and I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties:Hey Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow.

Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honeybees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie; Alberta, and in Butte; Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at

Jeff:Thanks, Sherry, and thank you, Global Patties. You know, each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor's support. We know you'd rather we get right to talking about beekeeping, however, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen, from the transcripts to the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders; they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture'sbeen the magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.

Hey everybody, thanks for joining us. We're really happy you're here. Before we get started, just a quick reminder to subscribe or follow Beekeeping Today Podcast and give us a five-star rating, it really does help. Also, we are now adding complete transcripts of each episode on the website after the show notes, check them out.

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Happy Belated Thanksgiving, everyone. We are thankful you have added Beekeeping Today Podcast to your weekly playlist. Being is how it's the long holiday weekend, we have prepared this special episode for you to ease back into your long work week. Fall is a time of reflection of the season passed, preparation for the season to come, and celebration of the season's harvest by entering and displaying your honey in shows.

One of the largest, and perhaps oldest honey shows in the world is the UK's National Honey Show. The first show opened in 1923 at the Crystal Palace in London. While the National Honey Show took an understandable break during the Second World War, it started up afterwards and is an established annual October event ever since. The National Honey Show is a three-day show highlighting honey and other hive products. There are over 250 competitive classes or categories for entries from around the world. Certainly, there's enough there to captivate beekeepers of any interest. Besides the competition, the National Honey Show features speakers and a large Trade Hall full of vendors and products.

In today's episode, special Beekeeping Today podcast UK correspondent Louisa Cartwright talks with the National Honey Show attendees regarding their impressions of their experience at the show. Okay, Louisa is really the marketing director for Northern Bee Books, as well as a beekeeper herself and owner of Cornish Honey located in Cornwall, England. Though I am sure you will agree, it will be good to have Louisa back on occasion with stories of UK beekeeping. Speaking of stories, we also have Ed Colby with us with a story about dodging for cover during hunting season. Okay, let's get right into today's episode, but first, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.


Strong Microbials:Hey beekeepers, many times during the year, honey bees encounter scarcity of floral sources. As good beekeepers, we feed our bees artificial diets of protein and carbohydrates to keep them going during those stressful times. What is missing though are key components, the good microbes necessary for a bee to digest the food and convert it into metabolic energy. Only SuperDFM-HoneyBee by Strong Microbials can provide the necessary microbes to optimally convert the artificial diet into energy necessary for improving longevity, reproduction, immunity, and much more. SuperDFM-Honeybee is an all-natural probiotic supplement for your honey bees. Find it at or at fine bee supply stores everywhere.

Louisa Cartwright:Hello, Kim, Jeff, and all your podcast listeners. My name's Louisa and I work for Northern Bee Books. We sell new and old beekeeping books and we ship worldwide. We have a website which is I'm here today reporting on a gorgeous day from Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, Surrey, in England. I'm at the National Honey Show.

National Honey show's in its 91st year. We're here selling bee books. We're nestled amongst some of our other friends in the trade who are selling beekeeping equipment, mead. products from the hive, and, of course, we have the honey exhibits. The National Honey Show is the UK's premier honey show with international honey-judging classes, wonderful lectures, and workshops.

Hundreds of people travel from far and wide to attend the show. I was even chatting to a woman yesterday who traveled all the way from Barbados to England just to attend the show. The National Honey Show first took place in 1923 at the Crystal Palace in London, until 1936 when sadly, the palace burnt down. Now the show is held in Surrey, which is where I am today. In its 91st year, I feel very privileged to be attending and selling at such a prestigious event. I'm about to take you inside the show to chat to some of the attendees.

We're inside the Trade Hall now. We're at the Northern Bee Books Stand with Jerry, the owner of Northern Bee Books. Now Jerry, how did you get into collecting bee books in the first place?

Jerry Burbidge:I bought a very old Scottish book by Ged, in Cheltenham, it cost me £40. At that time I was being paid £40 a month for teaching. As I'd sold a certain amount of honey, I bought the book, and it started from there and I started collecting. Now, basically, we are a publisher of bee books. We have, what I would claim to be the widest range of English language bee books in the world. We are attracting authors from Australia and America because we are selling into those markets as well as the European market.

Louisa:Great. How have you seen the National Honey Show change over the, is it 45 years you've been attending?

Jerry:It's got better every year. When I first started to show we were in Caxton Hall, which was a little hall in the middle of London. We moved to various museums, and now we are at Sandown Park Racecourse where we're all on one floor, all the exhibits are there. This year there were two over 2,000 exhibits. All the traders are there. It is "the" showcase of British beekeeping as well as certain international-- We have international visitors, people come from Australia, and America. More and more Americans are coming to see this amazing beekeeping event.

Louisa:That's wonderful. Thank you, Jerry.

We're now going to go round the Trade Hall and chat to some attendees. Could I ask what your name is, please, and where you've traveled from today?

Elaine:Hi, I'm Elaine and I live in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire.

Louisa:Hi Elaine. Can I ask, are you a hobbyist beekeeper or do you do it commercially?

Elaine:I'm very much a hobbyist beekeeper.

Louisa:Wonderful. Have you entered your honey into this year's show? If so, how did it do?

Elaine:Yes, I've just entered one product, actually. I live near the malls above Hebden Bridge in the South Pennines. I entered my Ling Heather honey.

Louisa:Wonderful. You're pleased with the result?

Elaine:I am actually because it was my first ever attempt at entering the National Honey Show and I came forth, so I was amazed.

Louisa:That is amazing, congratulations. It was Ling Heather.


Louisa:Do you do any other types of honey or is it the Ling Heather? That's the premium, isn't it?

Elaine:Most of my late summer crop is either Ling Heather or a blend with other wildflowers and Himalayan balsam. I do have other honey in the spring, mainly from trees but yes, I would say two-thirds of my crop is actually either heather or a heather blend.

Louisa:Wow. That is gorgeous. Lastly, how long have you been attending the Honey Show? If it's several years, have you seen it change in any way since you've been attending?

Elaine:I can't really answer that question because it's my first time that I've been to the National Honey Show.

Louisa:You've done very well winning fourth at your first time. Congratulations.

Elaine:Thank you.

Louisa:We are walking through the Trade Hall now and we have another attendee. Could you let me know your name and where you've traveled from today?

Gilly:I'm Gilly and I've come from Guildford.

Louisa:Hi, Gilly. Can I ask, are you a hobbyist, sideline, or commercial beekeeper?

Gilly:I'm very much a hobbyist.

Louisa:Lovely. How long have you been beekeeping for?

Gilly:Roughly seven years.

Louisa:Great. Is this your first time at the National Honey Show?

Gilly:No, I've been quite a few times now, three perhaps.

Louisa:Have you noticed that it's changed at all over those three years?

Gilly:Today it's just a comfortable number of people, I'd say. Sometimes it's completely a bun fight.

Louisa:Has it changed?

Gilly:No, not very much, but it's always very interesting. It's lovely to browse, feel like a bit of a bunny in the headlights not knowing what to buy-

Louisa:Because there's a lot here-

Gilly:-because there's so much here. It's always nice to meet up with other beekeepers and natter, and it's always good to go to the lectures and workshops.

Louisa:Lovely, thank you very much. Thanks for your time.

We've met a lovely gentleman who is carrying a bag. Could I ask what your name is and if you've bought anything from the show today?

Ian Harley:My name's Ian Harley and yes, I have bought two books, one by Thomas Seeley, who I find quite an interesting author, and another one just to remind me on how to make skeps.

Louisa:Very interesting. Could I ask where you bought them from?

Ian:Yes. At Northern Bee Books.


Ian:Who else?


Louisa:Thank you. Could I ask how long you've been attending the show for roughly, and where you've also traveled from today in the country?

Ian:I've been coming to the show--, well it was Woking originally the first time, so probably five or six years, maybe longer, I can't remember now. I've come down from Peterborough.

Louisa:Ah, Peterborough. Do you keep bees commercially or are you a hobbyist beekeeper?

Ian:A hobbyist beekeeper is definitely in the frame, six colonies at the moment of which three are production and three are nukes. We're the commercial, I certainly sell my honey and I sell enough for the Inland Revenue to be interested in my proceeds. Yes, probably 400, 500 jars a year, something like that.

Louisa:Successful enterprise. Last question, how have you seen, if you have at all, the Honey Show change in the years that you've been attending?

Ian:I suppose one of the big changes, certainly last year during the COVID thing was the use of Zoom for a lot of the other bits and pieces which is not as good as people being present. The trade show still seems to have reduced slightly in size or number of exhibitors, but that's not a specific-- I couldn't quote numbers on that, but-

Louisa:Notice it change.

Ian:-it has calmed down a bit. Yes. Certainly, the range of lectures has been good. Some of the workshops are clearly very popular because I wasn't able to book in on one of them.

Louisa:I said it was my last question, but I would just like to ask about the lectures. Was there anyone in particular you found interesting, or did you just go to so many it was just generally a good show?

Ian:I suppose some of the technical bits and pieces. I've just done one on bee vision, and whilst a lot of the biology is beyond my biology, you have to scale. Nevertheless, there was interesting snippets that made one think a little bit more about how you react to bees when you're handling them. Bit of history on Apimondia from Jeff Pettis filled a little bit of the history in; that was quite interesting.

Louisa:Thank you very much for your time.

Hello. We're here on the Saturday on the final day of the National Honey Show. I have stopped with a very important gentleman of the National Honey Show. What's your name, please, and your job title?

Bob Maurer:My name's Bob Maurer and I'm Chairman of the National Honey Show.

Louisa:Hello, Bob. Could I ask how you found the show this year?

Bob:It's been fantastic. After several years of COVID, we came back in a limited manner last year, but because of travel restrictions, we couldn't have overseas people or overseas classes. This year, we're back up and running with everything, the response has been fantastic. We've had over 2,000 entries on the show benches, the quality's been really good. I think everybody's excited to be back.

Louisa:That's brilliant. Can I ask what the future plans are for next year's show? Are there going to be any changes or--

Bob:There will be because next year's show is a very special one, it will be our centenary show. There will be lots of new things, most of which are still not so much that they're a secret, but we don't really know ourselves yet. We're still working on exciting ideas. One that I can tell you about is a wonderful French photographer called Eric Tourneret. Eric was in here yesterday having a look around at what we might do. He has amazing pictures of bees and beekeeping. We're going to put on a display of his work, and they are huge pictures that are really, really big. Some of them are going to be inside the building, and I think some of them will be outside as well, so that's very exciting. By the time we get to this time next year, we should have lots more interesting things to tell you.

Louisa:That's very exciting. Thank you so much, Bob, for your time.

Bob:You're very welcome.

Louisa:We're walking through the Trade Hall now. I'm very excited to have met a winner at the National Honey Show. Can I ask what your name is and where you've traveled from today?

Josephine Anderson:My name is Josephine Anderson. I have traveled down from West Yorkshire.

Louisa:Can I ask what you've won today, and for what category?

Josephine:I have won a category for homemade produce. There were 10 in the category of which you had chocolate and you also had lip balm and wood revive wax, and you've also had jams and jellies.

Louisa:Lovely. Is it your first time winning at the show?

Josephine:Yes, it is, and I got a cup as well.


Josephine:As you can tell, I'm quite happy.

Louisa:Yes, fantastic news. Congratulations. Can I ask how long you've been beekeeping for?

Josephine:For about 10 years.

Louisa:Have you always made products from the hive? Do you sell honey as well or how was your beekeeping journey?

Josephine:It started with my son who is now 17, but he was 5, and we went with the journey with him. My husband also is a beekeeper. He would bring all this honey in and wax in, and what were we going to do with it? Hence, I started to make candles, and I started to make lip balm, and wax clot, which is brilliant.

Louisa:Wow, that's brilliant. Now you've won. [laughs]

Josephine:Yes, I won.

Louisa:Can I ask, are you planning on attending next year's show?

Josephine:Yes, I am. Now that I've caught the bug, I definitely will be back.

Louisa:Thank you so much, and congratulations.

Josephine:Lovely. Lovely to meet you.

Louisa:We've now met another attendee in the Trade Hall. He's carrying a lot of beekeeping equipment by the looks of it. Could I ask what your name is and where you've traveled from today?

Jason Rawbone:Sure, my name's Jason Rawbone. I'm a beekeeper from Mid Wales, Powys. I've got 17 colonies currently. We won tickets because I was a novice winner of my honey in a National Brecon -

Louisa:Oh, that's exciting. I was hoping to meet a honey winner, that's great.

Female Speaker:Honey wine, wasn't it? Honey wine winner.

Jason:Honey wine, yes. Honey wine I made as well last year. That came first as well.

Louisa:Came first. Brilliant. Congratulations, and thank you for your time.

What is your name firstly?

Ross Stark:My name's Ross Stark. I'm from New Zealand.

Louisa:Lovely. Are you a hobbyist beekeeper or sideline or commercial?

Ross:I'm a hobbyist beekeeper/sideline from my day job, which is carpenter and joiner.

Louisa:Ah, interesting. Is this your first year?

Ross:My first year was last year. I've only been keeping bees for the last 9, 10 months and have been absolutely captivated by them. Fully enthused and they've taken over my life.

Louisa:Good, that's what we like to hear. Have you bought any books from our trade stand?

Ross:I have. I have. I've bought The Life of Bees.

Louisa:Wonderful, that's what we like to hear. Lastly, how have you found the show?

Ross:Oh, it's brilliant. There's always this wonderful interaction between other beekeepers and the willingness to share information as a collective. The beekeepers are a real force we dealt with, and up at most in their mind is the welfare of bees, although they all do it slightly differently and it's fascinating.

Louisa:Fantastic. Thank you so much for your time.

That's it. Thank you very much to the National Honey Show for putting on such a wonderful event, and for all of our customers and attendees who've chatted to us today.


Betterbee:Hey, has winter's chill and weather forced you inside? Well, did you know that Betterbee offers winter classes you can take from the comfort of your own home. Our classes are taught by Dr. David Peck and Eastern Apicultural Society, Master Beekeeper Anne Fry. Her classes range from basic courses on essentials of beekeeping, all the way up to specifics on planning for the seasons ahead, and for your success. Visit to view all of our upcoming learning opportunities.


Ed:Diving for Cover. This story appeared in the January 2018 issue of Bee Culture magazine. "On a sun soap November day down by the Colorado River, Paul and the boys stacked four-way pallets of bees three pallets high. Semis rolled in three and four times a week to haul those little darlings to the land of almonds and honey. Derek and his crew pamper them through the California winner with Paul and Pattie's sweet syrup and oxalic acid. In February, they moved them into the almonds. By late March, they're home again, cheerfully busting outtalk their boxes, in a good year.

I piggyback most of my best colonies onto one of Paul's loads. I had them jacked up on pollen substitute. On the day I'm going to tell you about, I was getting them all ready to go. About 11:00 AM the landowner came by on a four-wheeler with some hunters in tow. He asked Paul how long we were going to be because his hunters wanted to shoot some elk, better down by the river. We'd be in the background. Paul said we'd be finished by noon. Well, I wasn't going to be finished by noon, but Paul assured me that they were just going to take a few shots, and then it would be over. "You'll be fine after one o'clock," he counselled.

I ate lunch up the river under a mighty ancient cottonwood, then stretched out and tumbled into dreamland on the banks of the Colorado. I awoke to a rainbow of sunlight shimmering on a gentle riffle. I found this magical moment so satisfying that I went back to sleep. A little before 1:00, I heard repeated gunfire from downriver. "Let them have their sport," I mused. "They'll move on and I can go back to work." By 1:30 I was back on the job, pulling Apivar Mite strips, slow going because they can be hard to find suspended between the frames.

I was under the gun. Paul was coming back the next day to do the final hive stacking. The truck schedule kept changing and he wanted to be ready. An hour later, I was still pulling strips when I, again, heard shots. Across the river, 200 or 300 yards away, someone in blaze orange was blasting away at elk along the river bank, I was directly behind the elk. I hit the deck and sprawled behind four-way pallets of bees. Very undignified. The firepower was impressive. It sounded like the battle for Mosul.

I have no idea how many animals got shot or how many hunters were shooting. I waited for a lull, then took a peak. I saw more hunters, but no dead animals. Could they have missed that many shots? Then I heard another volley. I closed up the hive I'd been working on, grabbed my smoker, and hit the road, leaving gear scattered everywhere. You could call it an inglorious retreat.

Things moved pretty quickly at the holding yard. Itineraries change, trucks roll in, bees get loaded and trucks roll out. The next day I never had time to combine a handful of colonies that had fewer than Derek's requisite 10 frames of bees for the almonds. You do what you can. In the bee world, nothing ever goes quite as planned. I'll pay the shipping to send all those bees to California, and once they arrive, Derek can combine the ones that need it. That's just the way it is. As my sidekick Marilyn likes to say, "Don't let perfection be the enemy of progress."

I always hold some bees back to winter in Colorado, I don't like to put all my eggs in the same basket. I have apricot pollination customers near Grand Junction. They need bees in March, sometimes before mine return from California. I make less on these contracts than I would shipping those bees to California, but I enjoy the ritual of taking them into the orchards and watching them work their magic in the fruit blossoms. My growers are grateful to have a reliable supplier of pollinators. I feel it's a public service.

It's nearly mid-November as I write. My bees arrived in sunny California as far as I know, they're in Derek's hands now and God's. The home bees are well-fed. I have a little bee yard puttering to do, but I'm basically ready to take a break until February. Maybe I can catch my breath."

The tale I just read to you is 1 of 60 from A Beekeeper's Life. Tales from the Bottom Board, my Collection of Bee Culture stories. If someone special has you on their Christmas list, and especially if you're hard to please, you might hint that signed book copies are available from the author at for only $25. That's Colorado Bees, the numeral 1, Thank you.


Jeff:Thank you, Ed. Everybody. If you don't have that book already, I encourage you to get it for the beekeeper in your life, or even for yourself. I have it sitting right here on my desk and it is always a good read. Well, that about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast or wherever you download and stream the show, your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any webpage.

As always, we thank Bee Culture, the magazine for American Beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. We want to thank our regular episodes sponsor Global Patties. Check them out at

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at We want to thank Better Bee for their long-time support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies at Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of Bee Books Old New with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at, and finally, most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on the show.

Feel free to leave us comments and questions that leave a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

[00:28:07] [END OF AUDIO]


Louisa CartwrightProfile Photo

Louisa Cartwright

Marketing manager

Social media manager for Northern Bee Books and IBRA. Horticulturalist and beekeeper with my partner down in the deep South West of Cornwall, England!

Ed ColbyProfile Photo

Ed Colby

Beekeeper, Author

Sideline beekeeper. Columnist, Bee Culture magazine "Bottom Board" column since 2002. Author, A Beekeeper's Life, Tales from the Bottom Board. (

Actuarial tables indicate I should be retired, but I continue to be obsessed with Apis Mellifera. I live in western Colorado with the gal Marilyn, the blue heeler Pepper, 15 chickens, three geese, four lambs and way too many bees.