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National Honey Show

Skep Making Workshop

Skep Making Workshop

Workshop Booking CLOSED

The Workshop Reception Desk will be open 30mins before each session at the National Honey Show and will be able to deal with all enquiries.

The National Honey Show holds a number of workshops and demonstrations to assist new or less experienced exhibitors in the art and skills of preparing some items for honey show classes and to help raise the general standard of exhibits as well as other beekeeping related topics.

Please be aware that only National Honey Show Members and those with a daily admission ticket can attend Lectures and book into workshops and or demonstrations.

Booking opens from 1st September 2019. All workshops include a £8.00 (£9.00 on the day) non–returnable booking fee. There is a small additional charge for some workshops to cover the cost of materials.

Workshop online booking ENDS one week before the workshop starts.

All workshops are scheduled for 2 ½ hours duration. Please arrive at least 10 minutes prior to the start of the workshop.

e-Tickets are entirely electronic, sent by TicketSource as email attachments (PDF), you can print them out.

Start booking National Honey Show workshops on TicketSource from 1st September or use the individual workshop links below.

Before booking any workshops check the following

1. You have read the Workshop Synopsis?

2. You are a National Honey Show Member or are prepared to purchase a day ticket (needed to gain access to the building on the day).

3. Please book with care to avoid disappointment. Common mistakes to avoid are: "The workshop I booked clashed with a lecture" "I can't come to Thursday's workshop, can I change to Friday's?" "I didn't realise the workshop was for beginners"

Workshop Booking Enquiries

Workshop Booking Enquiries and FAQ.

Workshops and Booking *Direct Links

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(+) = Additional charge added to cover the cost of materials.

The workshop reception is located on the ground floor of the Eclipse Pavilion and will be open 30 minutes before the start of each session. When online booking closes and if there are still places you can pay and book at the workshop reception.

Thursday 24th October 14.30 - 17.00
G. 1-2 Microscopy - Preparing Pollen Slides Alan Potter +£5
G. 3-4 Mead Making from Start to Drinking Ron Hunter
G. 5-7 New Kitchen Cosmetics Sara Robb +£5
3. 1-3 Making Products from the Hive Iain Judge +£5
3. 6-8 Swarms and Swarm Control Phil McAnespie

Friday 25th October 09.30 - 12.00
G. 1-2 Microscopy - Preparing Slides of Honey Bee Parts Alan Potter +£5
G. 5-7 Cooking with Honey Paul Vagg +£5
3. 1-3 Food Safety and Marketing Legislation Andy Pedley
3. 4-5 The BBKA Show Judge Certificate Stuart Roberts
3. 6-8 Sustainable Planting for Honey Bees Sarah Wyndham Lewis
Brasserie Skep Making (all day) Chris Park +£15

Friday 25th October 14.30 - 17.00
G. 1-2 Identifying Pollen from Honey Bob Smith and Guest +£5
G. 3-4 Mead Making from Start to Drinking Ron Hunter
G. 5-7 Candle Making Iain Judge +£5
3. 1-3 Create Mixed Media Bee Art Claire Murthy +£5
3. 4-5 NBU Bee Disease and Pest Recognition Sandra Gray
3. 6-8 Honey Tasting John Goodwin

Saturday 26th October 09.30 - 11.30
G. 1-2 BBKA Exam Techniques Margaret Murdin
G. 3-4 Sustainable Planting for Honey Bees Sarah Wyndham Lewis
G. 5-7 New Kitchen Cosmetics Sara Robb +£5
3. 1-3 Making Beeswax Wraps Gwyn Marsh +£5
3. 4-5 Showing Wax John Goodwin
3. 6-8 Reproductive Anatomy Marin Anastasov
Brasserie Skep Making (all day) Nick Mengham +£15

Saturday 26th October 13.00 - 15.30
G. 1-2 Identifying Pollen from Honey Bob Smith and Guest +£5
G. 5-7 Cooking with Honey Paul Vagg +£5
3. 1-3 Making Beeswax Wraps Gwyn Marsh +£5
3. 4-5 Making Honey Beer at Home Chris Sweet
3. 6-8 Queen Rearing for the Small Scale Beekeeper Phil McAnespie

*If you are unable to open our links either disable your popup blocker or allow the site.

The workshop reception is located on the ground floor of the Eclipse Pavilion and will be open 30 minutes before the start of each session. When online booking closes and if there are still places you can pay and book at the workshop reception.

Workshop Synopsis

Microscopy – Preparing Pollen slides, led by Alan Potter

This workshop covers all aspects involved in preparing and mounting microscope slides of pollen. This includes the collection and preparation of various types of pollen and its recovery from honey. The use of mountants, stains and ringing tables to make permanent glycerine jelly mounts will be covered in detail. All materials and equipment will be provided but individuals are welcome to bring their own pollen samples to prepare. The objective is that each participant will leave with their own mounted, stained and ringed pollen slides. Microscopes to study the results will be available.

Microscopy – Preparing Slides of Honey Bee Parts, led by Alan Potter

This workshop will cover in practical detail how to make permanent microscope slides from not only parts of the honey bee such as the head, legs and wings but also the whole insect itself. All chemicals, reagents will be provided to produce permanent slides mounted in a Canada Balsam substitute mountant. The process normally takes several days to complete but partly prepared specimens appropriate for each stage will be used. The objective of the workshop will be that each participant will leave with permanently mounted microscope slides showing honey bee parts. Microscopes to study the results will be available. Safety gloves and glasses will be available for use when handling chemicals.

New Kitchen Cosmetics (Pampering Potions), led by Dr Sara Robb

Learn to make your own kitchen cosmetics with honey and beeswax. Dr Sara Robb will introduce a number of new recipes at her workshop this year, including her new recipe for Bamboo Charcoal and Honey Soap. Dr Sara’s soap can be made without any special equipment and used the same day it is made (no waiting 8 weeks to cure). Following the demonstration, participants will make Pink Lemonade Sugar Cubes. These delightful cubes can be used as a scrub or an exfoliating soap. The final product we will make is Honeycomb Cleansing Cream. A luxuriously thick emulsion that is the perfect finish to any day. Each participant will take home a delicious selection of pampering products.

Making Products from the Hive, led by Iain Judge

In this fun, practical class, you will learn to make the following products: Beeswax shoe polish, propolis tincture, honey vinegar, and a very simple salve from honey and beeswax. There will also be a chance to sample an easy to make alcoholic drink.
N.B. Please bring with you an apron, a pen and paper for notes, also a bag for you to take away your creations.

Candlemaking, led by Iain Judge

This is a hands on practical class, in which you will learn about beeswax and its properties, how wick works and how to chose the best wick for your candles. You will also learn how to make different types of candle including moulded and dipped. If you have ever wanted to make dipped candles but have struggled, then this is the class for you.
N.B. Please bring with you an apron, a pen and paper for you to make notes and a bag for you to take home you finished candles.

Iain Judge has been keeping bees for almost 10 years. He is passionate about making products from honey, wax and propolis. In his work life he has previously run a candle making workshop for people with learning disabilities and also worked for one of the largest commercial mead makers in the UK. Iain regularly runs candle making classes and also gives talks to groups on products of the hive.

Food Safety and Marketing Legislation, led by Andy Pedley

There is a whole range of food safety legislation that ensures that all the food that we eat is safe - and the law applies to honey and honey production if you sell your honey. Andy will cover topics such as Registration, prime production, equipment (new, second hand and recycled).

Swarms and Swarm Control, led by Phil McAnespie

Phil has kept bees for over 30 years and runs approximately 10 colonies near Burn’s Cottage, Alloway, Ayrshire. This workshop will cover reasons for swarming but have greater emphasis on the practical methods of its control/prevention using various artificial swarming methods, use of the Horsley and Snelgrove boards, Nucleus colonies and he associated benefits of simple queen rearing.

Queen rearing for the Small Scale Beekeeper, led by Phil McAnespie

Phil will outline simple, practical queen rearing methods suitable for beginners and experienced beekeepers alike.

Showing Wax, led by John Goodwin

John Goodwin

The Wax workshop will cover the preparation and which wax to use for showing: wax blocks, commercial wax, candles, models, wax flowers. We will discuss and John will demonstrate via power point: The moulding of wax blocks to win, mould release, finishing the blocks for showing, commercial blocks, small blocks, interpretation of the schedule.

Honey Tasting, led by John Goodwin

This is a light hearted workshop which is short and sweet. Participants will be blind tasting differing honeys from the UK and Europe. Discussing the various tastes, colour and texture of various honeys. John runs between 20 and 30 colonies in a number of apiaries from the southern to northern boundaries of Cheshire and operates apiary migration to various crops including: OSR, phacelia, buckwheat and heather. John is a BBKA National Honey Judge and a BBKA Honey Judge Assessor. A normal year involves judging between 10 and 15 honey shows per year and he will normally enter and exhibit at a number of shows within the year. He is a Director of Nantwich Show and manages the honey show and the honey /bee displays at the show. He also manages the annual Cheshire beekeepers honey show, which is held within the Cheshire Beekeepers Autumn Convention - both the above shows are sizeable shows with up to 2 to 400 entries.

Cooking With Honey, led by Dr Paul Vagg

This workshop will cover the essential basics to remember when cooking with honey. Topics include, substituting honey for sugar in recipes, Honey nutrition facts, Honey varieties & their versatility in cooking, the easy way to measure honey accurately, and why you should reduce liquid content in recipes, followed by the preparation of a simple 'honey & lemon’ drizzle cake. Participants will be working in pairs, and all relevant cooking materials will be supplied, however each participant must bring with them a pen and notepad, and a container suitable for taking away their very own cake after baking. The container required should be large enough to accommodate a 7 inch diameter cake. Presented by Paul Vagg, owner of Bee Naturals and the current 'London Beekeeper Of The Year', former LBKA resources officer, and author, this workshop is a must for all those who enjoy 'Cooking With Honey'.

BBKA Show Judge Certificate, led by Stuart Roberts and John Goodwin
Stuart is a beekeeper with 10 years of experience and a desire of becoming a Show Judge in the future. He sits on the BBKA Examination Board - and wants to listen to the concerns of members and hopefully address them. Feedback from potential candidates has indicated that: people don't seem to understand the syllabus, have said that the process is very complicated people and that it is too hard and not achievable John is a BBKA National Honey Judge and a BBKA Honey Judge Assessor. He will cover the experience required prior to the application for the portfolio booklet and the journey of learning and passing the assessments afterwards:

  • What skills are needed prior to starting the portfolio.
  • How to network to find the right shows and judges.
  • The need to find shows to show that cover all the categories that are needed to pass the final assessment.
  • Show in the best shows in the country.
  • Gain experience of stewarding with national assessment judges and what to look for to learn.
  • How to handle disputes and give opinion on your judging decisions.

The workshop format will consist of power point presentations and interactive participation and discussion with the delegates.

Sustainable Planting for Honeybees, led by Sarah Wyndham Lewis

Sarah Wyndham Lewis

I'd like to address the challenge that so many beekeepers face in ensuring that their bees have enough to eat and that it is supplied from a wide variety of forage sources. Only if bees are well nourished can the colony be strong in the face of mounting external stresses like pests, diseases and climate change. Green space is shrinking rapidly in urban/suburban areas and, in rural areas, monoculture and other farming practices continue to place considerable pressure on bees and beekeepers alike. We need to look beyond our own gardens and into the wider community for constructive and meaningful support in planting for bees. And that does not mean sprinkling packets of wild flowers. We'll be looking at the reality of the challenge and what really counts in forage provision. I'll also be sharing some case histories of community planting projects which my husband Dale Gibson and I have initiated around our home apiary by Tower Bridge and then opening the workshop up for general discussion. By pooling our knowledge and personal experiences, we can share ideas of ways in which we, as hobby or professional beekeepers, can inform and educate the public to help 'Save the Bees' in the most constructive way possible. By helping to feed them. Sarah Wyndham Lewis co-founded the sustainable beekeeping practice Bermondsey Street Bees with her husband Dale Gibson in 2007. Today they have around 90 hives in both urban and rural settings and were named 'Small Artisan Producer of the Year' in 2016 . A professional writer and Bologna-trained Honey Sommelier, Sarah's role centres on offering a wide range of bee-related information resources, educational initiatives and events. Her book 'Planting for Honeybees' was published in four languages by Quadrille in 2018.

Skep Making, led by Nick Mengham and Chris Park

Nick Mengham

Nick Mengham

Nick began beekeeping over 20 years ago and now has around 150 hives in Kent. In addition to honey production, he hires out his hives for fruit pollination. In recent years Nick has been running a number of beekeeping courses, from a one day introduction to basic bee husbandry and skep making; he holds a qualification in adult education. His interest in skep making stems from a wider enthusiasm for the history of beekeeping and he has demonstrated the craft at various events including the Kent County Show and the Step Back in Time working bygones event.

Chris Park

Chris Park

Chris Park is also a skep maker and skep beekeeper. He lives on an organic farm in the Vale of the White Horse. His work is wide and varied, from arts and craft, ancient technologies, experimental archaeology and educational projects to eco-building, professional story telling and raising the awareness of heritage beekeeping. You can see some of his work on Acorn Education ( He is chairman of the newly formed British Beekeeping Heritage Society and gives entertaining lectures. Nick and Chris aim to teach how to make skeps and not just run a production line. Few will finish their skeps on the day but we hope all will go home with the knowledge and materials needed to finish the job.

Identifying Pollen from Honey, led by Bob Smith and Guest

Bob Smith

Participants in this workshop are encouraged to bring along a honey sample of interest of at least 100g. Following a short introductory presentation they will be guided into a practical way of preparing microscope slides for examination, then group discussion sharing views of the results. Participants will be able to take home their microscope slide(s) and will also be given a link to obtain a digital image by email. If participants would like to use their own compound microscopes they are welcome to bring them along, but this is not a requirement as most value is obtained by sharing views and discussing what can be visualised.

Bob has been keeping bees since the late 70’s, currently managing 9 colonies in 14x12 WBC’s, in 4 quite different apiaries in North Kent. He was a Seasonal Bee Inspector for 6 years, is a holder of the NDB and the person with responsibility for leading the busy and committed Education Team within the Medway Beekeepers Association. He is also current Chairman of the Central Association of Beekeepers (CABK) whose aim is to “bring science to the beekeeper” Bob’s scientific training as an analytical chemist impacts his whole approach to beekeeping; experimentation and record-keeping are fundamental to both chemistry and beekeeping! With a general interest in science, botany and pollen, Bob has run microscopy courses aiming to identify our bees' foraging behaviour. Pollen is wonderful stuff.

Making Mead from Start to Drinking, led by Ron Hunter

Ron has been making mead and country wines for several years and has exhibited at his local show and the National Honey Show. The workshop will include several aspects of making mead and melomels, together with discussion about preparation of show exhibits and tasting. Participants may bring a bottle of home made mead to include in the tasting.

Create Mixed Media Bee Art, led by Claire Murthy

Come prepared to enjoy this fun, creative session making a bee painting of your choice. You will be free to use a range of art materials and try out a few techniques along the way. Experiment with painting, drawing, stamping, stencilling, doodling and gluing in a variety of ways to create your own style of bee art. There will be guidance on drawing a honey bee, plus a few ideas for extending your interests in bees through the joys of art. This workshop will provide a space where you can unwind for a couple of hours and immerse yourself in relaxing hands-on, creative activities - whether you are new to art or a seasoned painter. The aim of the session is relaxing enjoyment and you will able to take home your bee painting to hang to the wall or give as a special gift to someone else who loves bees! Claire Murthy paints, illustrates and writes about wildlife, farm animals, birds and pets who reside in and around the garden, local countryside and woods. Based on the borders of Kent, Surrey, Sussex and London.

Bee Diseases and Pest Recognition, led by Sandra Gray, NBU, FERA

At the time of writing Sandra Gray, acting National Bee Inspector, will be running a workshop looking at notifiable honey bee pests and diseases. The workshop will consist of looking out for signs of both EFB and AFB as well as minor brood disorders. There will be the opportunity to look at Nosema spore under the microscope as well as Small Hive Beetle and Tropilaelaps. Sandra Gray was appointed as acting National Bee Inspector in February 2019. From March 2017 to 2019 she was Regional Bee Inspector for the South East Region and from 2010 to 2017 she was a Seasonal Bee Inspector for the Eastern Region working at different times across Suffolk, Norfolk and North Essex.

Making Beeswax Wraps, led by Gwyn Marsh

Plastic is a huge problem. The search for alternatives is on. This is an opportunity to learn how to make an alternative cling film food covering. All material will be provided and you will go home with 3 wax wraps to experiment with. Gwyn Marsh is an experienced teacher, lecturer and education researcher, with a speciality in environmental science, she is an engaging and informative speaker who enjoys combining theory with practical activities in a workshop environment. Gwyn is also an enthusiastic bee-keeper, who is curious to explore and develop the many ways bee products can be put to beneficial use. Her wax wraps, a sustainable alternative to cling film, have attracted considerable interest at her local bee society’s stall at fairs and fetes and sell well.

Reproductive Anatomy, led by Marin Anastasov, NDB

Marin Anastasov

This workshop will study advanced dissection of the honeybee including the anatomy of queens, drones and laying workers. Workshop attendees should already have some experience of dissection of the honeybee, perhaps having studied for the BBKA Microscopy assessment. Candidates are required to bring their own dissecting microscope and tools. Marin holds a BSc degree in Animal Science and MSc in Organic Farming from Aberdeen University and has recently attained the National Diploma in Beekeeping. He is passionate about sustainable food production and his entire working career has been in organic food and farming. He has kept bees for over 20 years and currently manages 25 colonies in Gloucestershire. His beekeeping interests are in honey bee-plant interaction, honey bee breeding and honey bee biology. Marin is a Master Beekeeper, Trustee of Gloucestershire Beekeepers Association and serves on the BBKA Examinations Board.

Making Honey Beer at Home, led by Chris Sweet

Chris Sweet

This workshop will introduce you to the wonderful world of beer making. Come and meet Chris, the brewer of Zepto Brewhouse, (probably) Wales' smallest commercial brewery. Learn how to create a honey beer using just water, malted grains, hops, yeast and of course, honey. Chris will guide you through the brewing process, offer advice on sourcing equipment and ingredients and share his experience and tips on producing award-winning ales. You'll have an opportunity to sample a home brewed honey beer (or two). You will also receive a copy of the recipe and brewing instructions so that you can reproduce the beer at home. The workshop is best suited to brewing novices, but those with experience are also welcome to attend. Participants may, if they wish, bring their own homemade honey beers to form part of the tasting / discussion. Chris is an award winning brewer and the founder and owner of Zepto Brewhouse ( Based in the mountains of Caerphilly, South Wales, Zepto (which means really small) has become locally known as a producer of quality, flavoursome real ales that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Chris started his Brewing journey as a keen home brewer. He still regularly brews small batches of all grain beer at home for friends and family, often using hops and honey sourced from his, and wife Tracy's, organic allotment. Both Chris and Tracy are also new and enthusiastic beekeepers!

BBKA Exam Techniques, led by Margaret Murdin

Margaret Murdin has been keeping bees for about 15 years and a trustee of the BBKA for the last 7 years, Chair in 2017 and elected President of the BBKA Trustees in 2018. Margaret has been a member of the Exam Board and is currently Assistant Moderator for the written exams. Margaret is a BBKA Assessor for the Basic, General and Advanced Husbandry Assessments and writes, moderates and marks the written papers. She is also a tutor for Correspondence Courses. Previously Margaret was the Principal of a large further and higher education college in the North West of England, and retains a particular interest in education. This workshop will cover the examination techniques that will help you to be successful in the written module exams of the BBKA. Sometimes candidates fail their exam, not because they did not know the material but because of unfamiliarity with exams. Margaret is Assistant Moderator for the BBKA and until recently moderated the written papers. Too often candidates failed because they ran out of time, or did not read the question properly. Margaret will go through the pitfalls and explain how to avoid them.

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