National Honey Show
Thursday 21st to Saturday 23rd October 2021
This was our eighth visit to the National Honey Show at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher in Surrey, a regular part of our microscopy outreach programme. The organisers asked everyone to have been vaccinated, to take a lateral flow test the day before visiting, to wear face masks, to maintain social distancing, and to use sanitising hand gel. The exhibits and the trade stands were arranged with more space between them to allow social distancing.
Pam Hamer, Norman Chapman and Alan Wood manned the Club’s stand in the Trade Hall, which is adjacent to the area where all of the entries for the Show are displayed. We had a good selection of specimens, microscopes, leaflets, books, journals and bulletins on the stand, and with 3 tables there was plenty of space for our displays and for visitors. We also had display stands with photographs shown at our Annual Exhibitions and Pam Hamer’s photographs of pollen and bee parts, and a laptop computer with rolling PowerPoint presentations.
We had some interesting conversations with visitors, explaining the pros and cons of compound and stereo microscopes, and explaining how to update old microscopes with LED illumination and digital cameras. We met some teachers and introduced them to the Microscopes for Schools project run by the Royal Microscopical Society. We handed out lots of copies our free “getting started” leaflets, and we hope to see some of the visitors at excursions to Brookwood and Wimbledon Common or at our Zoom gossip meetings and lectures.
Pam Hamer with a visitor
At the end of the Langton Matravers meeting on Saturday 16th October, Jeremy Poole kindly lent us some of his scanning electron micrographs of pollen to display at the Honey Show.
Photomicrographs and scanning electron micrographs
Pan used her Dino-Lite Pro digital microscope, which came with a sturdy miniature tripod stand, to display images of slides of honeybee parts on a laptop computer, using the DinoCapture software. The Dino-Lite Pro includes a polarising filter that can be rotated to minimise reflections from the built-in LEDs.
Dino-Lite Pro digital microscope
Pam also brought her binocular Lomo Biolam С11 compound microscope. This originally had a mirror for providing transmitted illumination, but Pam has replaced it with a variable LED illuminator that is available from Chinese eBay sellers. To display images of pollen on a laptop computer, Pam replaced one of the eyepieces with a digital eyepiece camera from Brunel Microscopes, using the supplied ToupView software. For people interesting in stacking images to increase depth of field, Pam gave demonstrations to show how easy it is in ToupView.
Compound microscope with digital eyepiece camera
Pam brought a small stereomicroscope from Brunel Microscopes, with illumination from a small battery-powered LED lamp. Alan brought his Olympus SZ4045 stereomicroscope to show a set honeybee. The Olympus microscope was originally supplied with a tungsten illuminator that got very hot and was not very bright. Now Alan uses a 144 LED ring-light that stays cool all day and provides more than enough illumination.
Rocking animation of a honeybee (Apis mellifera), images generated by Zerene Stacker and combined into an animated GIF in Photoshop Elements
Pam also demonstrated her Phonescope, which clips on to most tablets and smartphones. It fits over the built-in camera and claims to provide up to 30× magnification. It is available from the Natural History Museum Shop and several other suppliers,
Alan has retrieved nearly 100 photomicrographs by Quekett members of honeybee anatomy, parasites and pollen that have been submitted for the Club’s Annual Exhibitions, and combined them in a PowerPoint slide show that he showed on his laptop computer.
PowerPoint slide show on laptop computer
Slide show: Honeybee anatomy, parasites and pollen
Click the arrows to move through the slides. Click the symbol at bottom right for a larger version.
Norman Chapman was showing his collection of drawings of pollen, made by tracing photomicrographs, and selling copies of “Pollen Microscopy”, the book in which he has published 200 of them.
Pages from “Pollen Microscopy” by Norman Chapman
We also had free copies of our “getting started” leaflets, including the new ones on “Insect wings” and “Rocks and minerals”. They can all be downloaded from the Download leaflets and booklets on microscopy and microscopes page on the Quekett website.
This year, we were in the spot in the Trade Hall that is normally occupied by Brunel Microscopes, so several people came to ask for advice, which we were happy to provide, or to buy a microscope (we directed them to the Brunel website).
Brunel Microscopes donated a microscope that was raffled to raise funds for the National Honey Show, and we displayed a poster and sold raffle tickets. The winners of the microscope are going to donate it to a group of beekeepers in South Africa.
The Club thanks Val Rhenius (the Publicity Secretary and Trade Hall Booking Secretary) for organising our stand at this impressive and well-organised event.
The exhibition was adjacent to the Trade Hall and so lots of people were able to see the displays of honey, beeswax, mead, honeycomb, frames, photographs, microscope slides and novelties.
Rows of jars of honey for judging
Honey labels for judging
Bottles of mead for judging
Beeswax chess set
Teddy bears’ picnic
The Stitching Botanical Group at the National Botanic Garden of Wales showed a large quilt entitled “The Brood Frame”, with what might be a Varroa mite creeping round the side.
The Brood Frame
The entries for the macrophotography and photomicrography competitions were displayed in an area where it was impossible to avoid reflections.
In addition to the Quekett stand, there were lots of stands in the Trade Hall where members of the public could buy almost anything a beekeeper could desire (except microscopes), browse books on bees, find out about associations to join, learn about beekeeping in developing countries and learn about pests and diseases of bees.
Meadow In My Garden sells a range of award-winning flower meadow seed products designed to foster a wildlife-friendly environment, and gives talks and seminars for horticultural clubs, beekeepers groups, garden shows, festivals, green events, civic societies, colleges and schools.
Seeds of plants to help bees, butterflies, ladybirds and birds
The National Bee Unit is part of the Animal & Plant Health Agency, which work to safeguard animal and plant health for the benefit of people, the environment and the economy. They are involved in the management and control of bee pests and diseases, along with training and dissemination of information to beekeepers, and at the Show they were offering advice on problems such as the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), parasitic Tropilaelaps mites and the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina).
National Bee Unit
The Royal Horticultural Society was offering guidance on producing and maintaining biodiversity in domestic gardens.
The Woodland Trust plants woods and trees, restores damaged ancient woodlands, saves woods and trees from destruction, and cares for over 1000 woods. They working with farmers, landowners and local communities to create bigger, better, more resilient landscapes across the UK for people and wildlife.
Plantlife is a conservation charity working nationally to save threatened wild flowers, plants and fungi. They own nearly 4,500 acres of nature reserve across England, Scotland and Wales. They work with landowners, businesses, conservation organisations, community groups and governments to save our rarest flora and ensure familiar flowers and plants continue to thrive.
Claire Murthy is an artist who paints, illustrates and writes about the wildlife and pets who reside in and around the garden, countryside and woods. Bees feature in several of her works.
Detail of one of Claire Murthy’s paintings
Northern Bee Books were selling an astonishing number of new books on honeybees, and a good selection of used books.
The Candle Cavern sells handmade candles from beeswax, soy and rapeseed wax, as well as everything you need to make your own candles.
There were also stands selling beehives, protective clothing, and probably everything else that a beekeeper could want.
Report and photographs by Alan Wood