With my bees now hunkered down in their beehives, weathering out the miserable October weather, what now occupies a beekeeper? There is of course all the equipment to clean and make ready for next spring, which seems ages away. I'll put it off another week.
With the honey extracted, it's time to make my own preparations for selling at local fairs leading up to Christmas. The first of these was a Family Food Fair held at The Donkey Sanctuary. Having never done such an event like this, I didn't know what to expect so decided to aim high. By doing so, I gave myself a lot of work to do - possibly too much looking back as I burned the midnight oil getting everything ready.
I always like to come up with creative ideas to display my honey as well as come up with different honey-themed items - all to promote our wonderful honey bees.
I decided to put together a Budleigh Bees Cream Tea take-away bag. Not just any old bag, but everything contained inside had to be sourced from Devon (or Cornwall) and had to be environmentally friendly. Now you can see why I gave myself a lot to do. Hours were spent sourcing the right containers for the clotted cream, etc. But I got there with only days to spare.
At the last minute I also decided to take along with me a real hive (no bees though). Not many people get to see a real one and the kids especially were fascinated to see inside a hive and learn where the queen lives with her family and where they store their honey.
Leading up to the food fair, there were a lot of first moments for me.
It was the first time I used my second-hand honey warming cabinet to warm a large bucket of crystallized honey - which took 24 hours to melt the honey-berg! To help it along, I occasionally stirred the gloopy honey.
Once the honey had returned to liquid, it was the first time I used my new smaller honey tank perched on top of my newly purchased honey tipper platform. These two combined saved so much time and effort when pouring the lovely golden liquid into jars.
All that was left for me to do was stick on their labels and the jars were ready.
Finally, the eve of the food fair arrived. Time to put the cream tea bags together and pack the car before getting a good night's sleep. That goodnight sleep turned into just a few hours. I had under-estimated how long it would take to finish off everything and pack the car.
But, at the end of the day, it had been all worth it. I was as pleased (and proud) of what I had achieved. My stall looked good and I met some wonderful peopled.
I noticed one lovely gentleman stood looking at my beehive for ages with what looked like tear-filled eyes. I asked him if he was OK and he said "Seeing your beehive brought back so many happy memories of me helping my dad who was a beekeeper". We talked for about half an hour and before he left, I handed him a cream tea to add to his memories.
The image used has been published under the terms of a Creative Commons License and is attributed to Jenifer Tucker.