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National Honey Show

Skep Making Workshop

Workshop Booking

Quick links: Lecture Convention, Download Schedule, FAQs.

Please note his page was for 2023 workshop booking. Please check back in August 2024 for this years booking arrangements.

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 read the Workshop Synopsis to make sure the workshop is for you: some workshops require you to bring equipment.

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 7th September 2023. All workshops include a £10.00 non–returnable booking fee. There are additional charges 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 7th 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"

Workshops and Booking

*Use recommended direct booking links below (opens new TAB and includes synopsis)

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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.

Thursday 26th October 14.30 - 17.00

(Note hive building starts at 9:30 and is an all day workshop)

The Microscopes for the first session in rooms G1-2 will be set up during the morning. If anyone would like advice on choosing a microscope or how to set one up correctly, they are welcome to come along between 12:00 - 13:00.

G 1-2 Sean Stephenson, Microscopy: Disease Testing and Abdominal Dissection

G 3-4 Ron Hunter, Mead Making from Start to Drinking

G 5-7 Sara Robb, Making Super Natural Cosmetics +£10

3 1-3 Prof Steve Martin, Varroa Resistance Symposium

3 4-5 Lorraine PriestlyEncaustic Art +£5

3 6-8 Oliver St John, Hive Building a Complete hive
All day Starts at 9:30am - 5.00pm +£225 ALL DAY

Friday 27th October 09.30 - 12.00

G 1-2 Sean Stephenson, Microscopy for beginners Bee Anatomy Slides

G 3-4 Paul Vagg, Making Beeswax Polish +£10

G 5-7 John White, Checkerboarding

3 1-3 Andy Pedley, Food Safety for Beekeepers

3 4-5 Lorraine Priestley, Encaustic Art +£5

3 6-8 Sue and Chris Rawlings, Making Beeswax Flowers +£10

Members Bar: Chris Park, Skep Making (All Day) +£50

Friday 27th October 14.30 - 17.00

G 1-2 Sean Stephenson, Microscopy: Pollen Slides

G 3-4 Ron Hunter, Mead Making from Start to Drinking

G 5-7 Angie Kirk, Wax Pot Moulds +£5

3 1-3 Tiny Owl Studio, Create Mixed Media Bee Art +£10

3 4-5 Dan Basterfield, Using Apideas

3 6-8 Sue and Chris Rawlings, Making Beeswax Flowers +£10

Members Bar: Chris Park, Skep Making (Continued from the morning session)

Saturday 28th October 09.00 - 11.30

G 1-2 Angela Kirk, Honey Ferments +£5

G 3-4 Paul Vagg, Making Beeswax Polish +£10

G 5-7 Sara Robb, Super Natural Cosmetics +£10

3 1-3 Joyce and Tom Nisbet, Candle Making +£10

3 4-5 Sarah Wyndham Lewis, Sustainable Planting for Honey Bees

3 6-8 Paul Boyle, Honey Showing

Members Bar: Chris Park, Skep Making (All Day) +£50

Saturday 28th October 13.00 - 15.30

G 1-3 Angela Kirk, Honey Ferments +£5

G 3-4 Robin Parker, Honey and Cheese Tasting with a Sommelier +£15

G 5-7 Anne Rowberry, Queen Rearing for the small scale Beekeeper

3 1-3 Enid Brown, Preparing, Presenting and Judging Heather Honey

3 3-4 Claire Murthy, Draw and Paint Bees +£10

3 6-8 Marin Anastasov, Honey bee Anatomy +£25

Members Bar: Chris Park, Skep Making (Continued from the morning session)

Workshop Synopsis

Making Super Natural Cosmetics, led by Dr Sara Robb
After leaving academic research in 2003, Sara began making honey soaps and beeswax creams. Formulating for nearly 20 years, Sara’s recipes are available in books (Dr Sara’s Honey Potions, Beauty & the Bees, Making and Selling Cosmetics: Honeycomb Cleansing Cream) and numerous journal articles (British Beekeeping Journal, Bee Craft, BBKA News, Bees for Development Journal). She has a keen interest in teaching others to formulate cosmetics and helping small producers by providing Cosmetic Product Safety Reports.

Would you like to make cosmetics with your honey and beeswax? In her Making Super Natural Cosmetics workshop, Dr Sara Robb will show you how. Sara will demonstrate how to make Lavender Chamomile Same-Day Soap, a beeswax soap that you can use the same day you make it (no waiting eight weeks to cure). Made with alkanet root, you can watch the pH change from red to green to purple as the soap processes a little magic. Participants will make two other skincare products. The first, a solid Honey Salt Scrub, is an exfoliating mixture of Himalayan salt and honey in a tablet form to minimize packaging. As fun to make as it is easy. The final product you will make is Revita-Lip Treatment with essential oils. Perhaps the best lip formulation you will ever make- at least, that’s what people tell me! CPSRs will be available for all three formulations if you want to add them to your product line.

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. NB for those with allergies to sulphites; the workshop includes tasting samples of mead which are made using sodium metabisulphite as a sterilisation agent and preservative. Sodium metabisulphite will be present in the workshop in solution for cleaning equipment, and in the finished mead for tasting.

Hive Building, led by Oliver St John (All day workshop)
Oliver has been a beekeeper since 2010. He is a tutor at Plumpton College in Sussex where he holds beekeeping taster days, Basic and Honeybee Health courses and hive assembly courses. Oliver will demonstrate the assembly of a Thorne’s Bees on a Budget flat pack National hive and frames. Attendees will go home with a fully assembled hive, comprehensive handout of full guidance on assembling National, WBC and Langstroth hives, plus many other top tips.

Making Beeswax Polish, led by Dr Paul J Vagg
Dr Paul Vagg is well known for his charitable work and is a former LBKA committee member and author. Having begun beekeeping some years ago, and completely falling in love with everything involved, he established Bee Naturals, making natural products from beeswax shoe polish and candles, to soap and shampoo bars. Bee Naturals has currently been awarded two British Small business awards for its community/charitable work, and its natural product range.

This workshop will cover the simple basics, and ingredients required, to make a simple natural, non-chemical beeswax cream. Each participant will leave with their own beeswax crème they made during the workshop. The best part? You can use this simple product on everything from wood and leather to dry skin. In addition, the workshop will cover various beeswax recipes, covering items like making beeswax crayons or soap. A handout with the recipes shown will be provided to all participants.

Candle Making, led by Joyce and Tom Nisbet
Joyce and Tom will describe techniques for rendering and filtering wax including safety aspects for candle making. Wick selection will be considered, and each participant should make both a small moulded candle and a dipped candle to take home.

Honey Bee Disease Diagnosis, Preparing Anatomy Slides and Preparing Pollen Slides, led by Sean Stephenson
Sean is a Master Beekeeper, Chairman of Bucks County BKA and a member of the BBKA Exam Board. He has been responsible for organising the Bucks Microscopy Group for over 5 years; the group has over 40 members and meets at least 10 times a year. Many beekeepers take up microscopy as part of their BBKA exam studies, and whilst this is a good place to start, there is a lot more beyond the BBKA syllabus. Sean is keen to promote interest in microscopy, to help people understand the basics, develop their skills and to introduce an awareness of botany and entomology. The workshops at this year’s National Honey Show will be equally applicable to those who have never touched a microscope before as it is to those who are starting their preparations for the BBKA Microscopy Assessment.

Free demonstration of microscopy equipment
The microscopes for the following workshops will set up on Thursday morning, if you have any questions about microscopy, the equipment involved or the applicability of microscopy to beekeeping please drop in and between 12:00 and 13:00, room 1-2 on the ground floor of the Eclipse Pavillion.

Honey Bee Disease Diagnosis and Dissection
The workshop will cover the dissection and examination of a worker bee for the presence of Acarine, the examination of a sample of bees for Nosema and Amoeba, followed by an abdominal dissection of a honey bee. All three elements form part of the practical tasks for the BBKA Microscopy Assessment. Key to the success of a good honey bee dissection is familiarity of the tools and techniques involved, this workshop is a good place to start. All the necessary equipment and tools for carrying out the activities will be provided. The workshop will be limited to 16 attendees, should an attendee have their own equipment, they are more than welcome to bring it along but please arrange to have microscopes PAT tested prior to the workshop.

Preparing Pollen Slides
This workshop is very much hands on and will cover different methods of collecting pollen and how to prepare slides of them. The workshop will also introduce methods of recognising pollens and plant families through their pollens. Attendees will have access to a variety of microscopes which may help when going on to purchase their own devices. All the necessary tools and equipment for preparing slides will be provided. The workshop will be limited to 16 attendees, should an attendee have their own equipment, they are more than welcome to bring it along, but please arrange to have microscopes PAT tested prior to the workshop.

Crafting Beeswax Flowers, led by Sue and Chris Rawlings
Sue Rawlings comes from West Wiltshire and has been involved with Beekeeping for 46 years, with her husband Chris. She has a City and Guilds qualification in floristry and is a member of the British Sugar Craft Guild. She has been making sugar flowers for many years. Now working with beeswax she has developed her own methods of crafting flowers. She has entered honey shows in the South West recently winning 2 Blue Ribbons and a first in the National Honey Show 2022. Chris Rawlings is supporting Sue by improving the method of wax sheet production in the home. With 46 years’ experience in beekeeping covering many different aspects from training, to demonstrations and workshops to showing honey and honey products.

This is a workshop in Beeswax flowers where I will guide you through the art of making a rose and one other flower. It will cover methods for making your sheets of coloured beeswax and turning them into life like examples for display. You will receive a starter pack with templates and wires etc. The course is aimed at beginners, so no previous experience is needed and I hope this will be a starter to encourage new exhibitors to the show bench. This workshop is sponsored by KERAX Limited.

Varroa Resistance Symposium, led by Steve Martin
This seminar is designed to allow beekeepers of all levels to meet and ask questions from Prof Stephen Martin. Stephen has studied Varroa and its impact on honeybees for over 40 years. For the last 7 years Stephen has been studying different populations of Varroa resistance honeybees. This is an opportunity to discuss at length the various questions people have about the personal treatment free journal irrespective of where you currently are, and learn the about the latest updates concerning Varroa resistance.

Preparing, Presenting and Judging Heather Honey, led by Enid Brown
Enid has been keeping bees for 30 years following in the footsteps of her Grandfather and Father. She presently runs just over 40 colonies with about 10 of them permanently on a heather site. She is president of two local associations and Publicity and Shows Officer for the Scottish Beekeepers so beekeeping seems like a full time hobby. Enid holds the Scottish Beekeepers Apiarian Certificate which is similar to the BBKA Advanced Certificate and is an SBA and BBKA Honey Judge. She is well known as the Judges Referee at this Show and she also organizes the judges at the World Beekeeping Awards for Apimondia.

This subject will briefly cover preparing the bees for the heather, removing the crop and getting it ready for presenting and staging on the show bench. We will also look at the judging of Ling Heather Honey, Bell Heather Honey and Heather Blend.

Planting for the Bees, led by Sarah Wyndham Lewis
Author and Honey Sommelier, Sarah Wyndham Lewis is co-founder, with her husband Dale Gibson, of Bermondsey Street Bees. Their practice is built on sustainable principles, a cornerstone of which is the planting of pollinator gardens in public and private spaces. Sarah’s expertise has directly informed projects in more than 20 countries worldwide and her bestselling book Planting for Honeybees (2018) is published in five languages. Her new book, ‘The Wild Bee Handbook’ (Quadrille, 2023) broadens the planting and habitat agenda to support a far wider range of native bees.

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Description automatically generated Beekeepers face mounting challenges in ensuring plentiful and diverse forage for their hives. Increasingly too, we need greater awareness of the vulnerable wild bee species which share those same resources. It’s essential to protect this biodiversity; all bees need to be healthy and well-nourished to resist stresses such as pests, diseases and climate change. But green space is shrinking rapidly in urban/suburban areas and, in rural areas, monoculture and other modern farming practices negatively impact on all key pollinators . So we need to look at both our own gardens and – vitally - into the wider community too, to enlist support for meaningful planting projects. Meaningful planting does not mean sprinkling packets of wildflower seeds....We’ll be looking at what really counts in forage provision and how to make even small spaces highly productive. I’ll share case histories of our community planting projects and then open the workshop up. Pooling knowledge and personal experiences, we can look at ways in which we can all “Save the Bees’” in the most constructive way possible. By helping to feed them. (Instagram @plantingforthebees /

Draw and Paint Bees led by Claire Murthy
Draw and paint a honey bee and celebrate the National Honey Show in style! Create a keepsake of this historic event or take your finished piece home for a friend. Suitable for everyone.

Visit Claire’s stand for an extra special treat this year - ‘Izzie Lizzie Busy Bee’ created by Valerie Rhenius and Claire Murthy in honour of the Centenary - lots of inspiration for drawing and painting bees too, even some colouring sheets which you might like to use as reference material in the workshop! Claire paints, illustrates and writes about wildlife. She is the author of the children’s book series, ‘Robin Rosehip: A Bird’s Tale’. She is based in the South of England. More at and

Mixed Media Bee Art, led by Tiny Owl Studio
Come prepared to have fun in a workshop where you can try out different techniques and styles to capture the glamorous beauty of bees. Bees are fascinating creatures, but even the best photographs cannot capture their wonder. Art, however, can provide a glimpse into their charm. All are welcome to take part, whether you be new to art, or hold a more seasoned brush.

Tiny Owl Studio is based in gorgeous Kent. In 2020, beautiful illustrations and writings were created and after a little while I started Tiny Owl Studio in 2022, with green inspiration from the enchanting English Countryside wildlife and nature on my doorstep. For more info and lots to explore, visit

Food Safety for Beekeepers, led by Andy Pedley
Andy Pedley qualified as an Environmental Health Officer in 1976, and has developed a particular interest in the food safety legislation and food safety in practice, as it applies to Bee Keepers - he’s been keeping bees for more than 30 years. He’s recently authored “Food Safety for Bee Keepers, Advice on legal requirements and practical actions” (Northern Bee Books) and will lead this workshop, which in the past has been greatly appreciated by attendees.

Cheese and Honey tasting workshop, led by Robin Parker
Robin Parker lives in Norfolk where he runs Cavell Orchards producing apple juice and honey from his own orchard and bees. He has been keeping bees now for 10 years but previously had bees in the early 90’s before Varroa. He is a qualified Cheese Sommelier and Beer Sommelier with experience in tasting cheese, beer and also beer judging nationally. He also runs beer, cheese and honey tasting experiences and will be bring this knowledge to the Cheese and Honey tasting Workshop. At this workshop we will have an introduction to tastes and tasting cheese and honey which you may think you already know about but there will be some surprises. We will be tasting 6 different cheeses, all of different styles together with 6 different honeys and then matching the cheeses to honeys. This workshop will give a basis to take the tasting experience to a new level, give an insight into the varieties and taste of cheeses and honeys available to us and discover that there is much more to both cheese and honey.

Honey Bee Anatomy, led by Marin Anastasov
Marin started beekeeping in his teens and developed his initial beekeeping knowledge and skills while studying towards BSc in Animal Science in Bulgaria, where beekeeping was part of the syllabus. Marin is Trustee of Gloucestershire Beekeepers Association and serves on the BBKA Examinations Board. He is an assessor for the Basic, General Husbandry and Advanced Husbandry certificates and is currently responsible for running the General Husbandry and Advanced Husbandry training programmes for the BBKA. The participants in this workshop will have the opportunity to learn about honeybee anatomy and more specifically practice the techniques for dissecting honey bees, including head, thorax and abdomen. We will focus on the major anatomical features, organs and systems, and link their functions, with colony performance, pests and diseases responses. The workshop is for the intermediate level of beekeepers and particularly useful for those studying towards the BBKA Microscopy certificate, BBKA Module 5 or those who are simply interested in getting more detailed knowledge of honey bee biology and function.

Dissecting equipment and consumables will be provided, but the participants need to bring their own dissecting microscopes. Please arrange to have microscopes PAT tested prior to the workshop.

Checkerboarding, led by John White
John is a hobbyist beekeeper of 12 years who keeps his bees in Pangbourne, just west of Reading. He likes to experiment with different methods of keeping bees, with a particular passion for chemical free beekeeping. He has given many talks to beekeeping associations in the south of England on Checkerboarding and Small Cell beekeeping. He co-authored the book: Checkerboarding and is currently writing another book on Chemical Free Beekeeping. He recently spent an evening with Laurence Edwards, recorded on YouTube, talking about his areas of interest. All of his beekeeping practices can readily be adopted by other beekeepers, as can be seen by the large number of beekeepers that now practice these techniques. His part-time day job with Thorne Bees at Windsor, provides many opportunities to talk about and develop his beekeeping ideas and test the pulse of fellow beekeepers.

Checkerboarding is a fascinating method of avoiding swarming without intervening in the brood. It has been used by a small minority of beekeepers in the USA (for the last 25 years) and the UK (7 years) with some surprising fringe aspects. It is a truly low intervention form of beekeeping. There is no need to go into the brood box to check for swarm preparation throughout the season. It is a one-time exercise. Unlike most things that sound too good to be true this works. We have had no swarms or swarm cells for the last 6 years. It is simple and effective. Like everything there are ups and downs about this method but we believe the benefits, to the beekeeper far outweigh the other considerations. In this workshop we will cover the principles of checkerboarding and describe where this idea came from and how it works. We will demonstrate the practical aspects of checkerboarding by walking through a ‘Checkerboarding Year’ with lots of opportunity to try this intervention, in a workshop setting, and ask lots of questions.

Queen rearing for the Small Scale Beekeeper, led by Anne Rowberry
After a career including instructing Outdoor Pursuits in Yorkshire, Head of Physical Education in Singapore, gaining an MEd at Bristol University and a Diploma in Counselling at Reading University, I moved from teaching to work for a charity involved in sustainable agriculture in Africa. It was then I got my first hive and with Ted Hooper’s book in one hand investigated the boxes. I joined a club and increased my knowledge by working through the BBKA modules, microscopy and husbandry exams to gain the Master Beekeeper qualification. I now have around 20 hives, enjoy teaching beekeeping to pupils at a local school where I maintain an observation hive. I Chair Avon County BKA and I am the current President of the BBKA. Anne will outline simple, practical queen rearing methods suitable for beginners and experienced beekeepers alike. Anne will outline simple, practical queen rearing methods suitable for beginners and experienced beekeepers alike.

Using Apideas, led by Dan Basterfield, NDB
Dan grew up with beekeeping around him, earning pocket money by clipping and marking queens. Having spent 15 years working in large companies, he returned to the family beekeeping business in Devon in 2005, and with his father expanded the business and built a brand new Honey Farm as the centre of their honey production, queen raising, and teaching activities. Dan holds the National Diploma in Beekeeping (NDB), is a BBKA Master Beekeeper and an examiner for the BBKA and NDB examinations. He is a regular lecturer around the UK on practical beekeeping topics. Daniel wrote some of the BBKA’s Course in a Case training courses, and contributed to the BBKA’s Liquid Gold and Swarming videos. He co-authored the BBKA’s Healthy Hive Guide book, and has recently published Using Apideas, an extensive and lavishly-illustrated guide to running these mini mating nucs. He is a member of the Bee Farmers Association, and has been a Trustee and Chairman of the International Bee Research Association (IBRA), and Chairman of the NDB Examination Board.

Despite being available for 40 years and popular across Europe, the Apidea mini queen mating hive comes with no instructions. Beekeepers new to queen raising often find them frustrating and unreliable; even the respected queen raising text books contain little or no information on the management of these hives. Daniel Basterfield has used Apideas with his father since the 1980’s. He recently published the book Using Apideas as a distillation of their experience, describing successful and straightforward techniques for using these mating hives. In this workshop he will discuss how to set up and manage Apideas, using lots of equipment and examples, including the principle of recycling in order to mate multiple successive queens from each established Apidea. This workshop is aimed at the experienced beekeeper who may be new to queen raising and mini mating hives.

Showing Honey, led by Paul Boyle
Paul started beekeeping in 2007 with sister Catherine in Ardee Co Louth. He was lucky to be mentored by two of the club's stalwarts to whom he is indebted. He started showing honey in 2008, and qualified as a beemaster in 2013. He won 2 first places in The National Honey Show in London in 2013. In 2015 he was offered a place on the Executive Council of The National Honey Show in London, the first Irish person in its illustrious 99 year history, and he is also the trade hall co-ordinator for the national honey show. He qualified as an Irish honey judge in 2017, having completed his FIBKA honey judge exams. In 2019 and 2023 he was accepted as a Honey Judge at the World Beekeeping Awards and is currently the chairperson of Louth Beekeepers Association in Co.Louth. Paul passed his BBKA judging exam earlier this year.

Encaustic Art, led by Lorraine Priestley
Lorraine Priestley is from South West Scotland where she works as an Occupational Therapist. She has kept bees in her own garden for 20 years and is a keen member of Carlisle BKA Lorraine is leading this encaustic art workshop which involves painting with beeswax using travel iron and heated tools. Encaustic art, also known as wax painting, is a fascinating art form. The basic technique of encaustic art has a very long history that goes back even further than oil painting. The word “encaustic” alone has been around for over two and a half thousand years, and dates back to Greek-Roman antiquity. This workshop will provide participants with an encaustic definition along with a detailed step-by-step guide to encaustic art from artist Lorraine.

Skep Making, led by Chris Park (All day workshop)
Chris Park is 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 at He is chairman of the newly formed British Beekeeping Heritage Society and gives entertaining lectures. Chris aims 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.

Honey Ferments, led by Angela Kirk
This is a very relaxed workshop usually full of chat and laughter while we work. Honey ferments are a simple delicious, healthy way of preserving all sorts of foods, such as garlic, ginger, turmeric and chilli. You can then use both the food and the honey syrup in your cooking. I love them in soups or on my porridge or yoghurt and the ginger with a little whiskey goes extremely well. The course is for beginners with no previous experience, we will make three ferments, with your own honey. Please bring about a pound of honey, but a little more or less is ok, any type, runny or set, plus two empty sterile lidded jars of similar size. You may want to bring a clean apron. Everything else supplied.

Making Wax Honey Pots, led by Angela Kirk
What better way to serve your honey than in your own hand made beeswax pot? We will learn how to pour a mould to make a beeswax pot, then ‘Blue Peter style’ unglove it, learn how to finish it and you will be able take a wax pot home with you, hopefully inspired to make more. They make fantastic gifts with a jar of your honey. We will cover their advantages and limitations, talk about wax and honey and no doubt our bees in a relaxed craft based workshop, bring an apron or old clothes incase of spills.

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