Judgement Day for Aggie Days

They look like pirates, don’t they? But these honey judges, under the direction of Chief Honey Judge Stephen, are checking honey viscosity (a proxy for the moisture level) of the entries in the “Aggie Days Honey Competition”.

Calgary (Alberta, Canada) has an annual “Aggie Days” with goat-milking, sheep-shearing, rope-making, corn-mazing, and bee-keeping on display. As our city becomes larger (about 1.2 million now) and less connected with its farming and ranching roots, it becomes almost a novelty to see farm stuff exhibited. But Aggie Days is wildly popular, even among those who have never carried the unmistakable odour of the countryside on the soles of their boots.

these are finalists for the special category, ‘Judges’ Flavourite” is the only time actual flavour is judged. For the main contest, honey is judged on non-taste-related elements (cleanliness, moisture, brightness, etc.)

Several years ago, the local bee club started a big display to let city folks know a bit about commercial and hobby beekeeping in our area. Along with the cabinets of curios and yarns spun by real live beekeepers, there is also a honey competition. Judged on such qualities as ‘brightness’, viscosity, and some eight other critical elements, the best honeys are awarded ribbons.  As a past chief judge, I have been involved in judging for quite a few years. The boss designation has passed on to my friend Stephen, but I am still allowed to help.  Today’s posting is mostly a feature of photos taken during our judging process. Enjoy!

Very serious stuff. That’s Stephen in the front, me standing (!) in the back.
(It was one of my ‘good’ days!)

Getting it just right.

Taste is personal.

And the winner is….


About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Culture, or lack thereof, Friends, Honey, Outreach and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Judgement Day for Aggie Days

  1. Peter Murless says:

    Taste is all important. I dont really like these honey competitions, as the accent is on cleanliness and colour.


    • Ron Miksha says:

      I understand what you mean. The problem we have is that taste is subjective. Some of the judges love dark, strong honey and think that the white mild stuff is syrupy and flavourless while others love beautiful white alfalfa honey and think that buckwheat honey tastes like medicine. That’s why these contests tend to be so sterile – looking for minor flecks of wax in the jar and fill-level of the jar. We do taste for signs of overheating (caramelizing) or moisture issues (souring). While doing that quality check, we observe the flavour appeal. When several judges are involved (in this case, four of us), we note the ‘nicest’ (in the humble opinions of the judges) and then we re-taste them at the end of the main judging. We have a secret ballot, ranking the ‘Judges’ Choice‘ in terms of flavour. After the vote, we tally up, giving us a so-called ‘best tasting’ honey which gets a special award.


  2. Pingback: Judgement Day for Aggie Days | Raising Honey Bees

  3. What delicious looking honey!


  4. Pingback: Judgement Day for Aggie Days | How To Raise Bees

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