Monday, 29 September 2014

Bees at the Royal Melbourne Show - 2014 edition

Well it's September and that means Royal Melbourne Show time again in Melbourne. After my experience last year as a volunteer at the Victorian Apiarists' Association (VAA) stand, I was looking forward to doing it all again this year.  

One of the reasons I enjoy helping out at the stand is the opportunity to chat to all the other beekeepers. The VAA volunteers come from all over the state. Many of them have been keeping bees for decades and are huge sources of beekeeping wisdom.  It's a great opportunity for relative newbies like me to tap into that knowledge and I'm not backward about doing that :)

This year, in addition to the great range of Victorian honeys for sale there was also comb honey.


The stall display included a beautiful array of different coloured honeys.

Different types of candles were for sale, as well as beeswax hand cream, beeswax furniture polish and honey soaps.

As well as selling honey and other bee-related products, the stand is a great way to chat to the general public about bees and highlight the important role they play in our food security.  I think people are quite surprised when they discover how much we rely on bees for the fruit, nuts and veg we all take for granted. The image below illustrates the situation nicely.


I had a stint at the stall talking to the public who came up to see the observation frame. This is a frame in a ventilated glass case, complete with bees like the one in the picture below.  It's a great way for the public to get up close and see what the inside of a beehive looks like. The frame had some brood, honey, and bees, including a queen, so there was plenty to see.
Observation frame at the VAA's outdoor spot in the My Backyard area of the Show

I also spent some time outside the bee cage, describing to the public what the beekeeper was doing inside the cage when he opened the hive.  As usual, everyone was amazed that the beekeeper wasn't wearing gloves as he went about his business.

Hive in the ventilated bee cage

It was a busy day but I did get a brief chance to have a bit of a look around. These crocheted cows made me smile.

I caught up with chicken expert Megg Miller at the Chicken Breeds stand. In addition to being a chicken breeder and poultry expert, Megg is the editor of Australasian Poultry as well as Grass Roots, an Australian magazine about self-reliance, farming, gardening, eco-living, DIY, cooking and craft. Grass Roots is a great magazine, still going strong after first hitting the shelves 40 years ago.  Megg also shares her chook wisdom in magazines such as Organic Gardener and kindly gave a talk to our local permaculture group some years back. She had some of her beautiful chooks on display, one of which was lying on her lap having a  bit of a snooze in the sun while Megg talked all things chicken to the people who visited the display. That was one contented chicken - I wish I had taken a photo!

Frizzle rooster on display with his girls in the Chicken Breeds area

All in all it was a very enjoyable day and I look forward to doing it again next year.

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