The Greatest Show of 2023

Kasia Jolanta and Alex at the beekeeping show
Kasia Jolanta and Alex at the beekeeping show

It’s not that difficult to be the greatest show of 2023 when we are still in February. I’m talking about ‘The Beekeeping Show’ last Saturday in Telford, a trade show for beekeepers, which seems to have gone down well with both equipment suppliers and beekeepers alike. Congratulations to Rob, Alex, and Paul who organised the event, which will no doubt become a regular fixture for years to come. Here are some of my recollections from my little adventure to the midlands:

Friday BFA Dinner

Having blagged my way into a meal at the Holiday Inn, organised by Paul Horton, and attended mainly by UK bee farmers, I sat in the corner and chatted to the assembled doyens of bee bothering. Eventually, as the evening passed, I managed to circulate and speak with a few more of them. Guests from France (Richard Noel) and Ireland (Olly Nolan) arrived to join the general merriment. Murray McGregor’s team were there, so I enjoyed catching up with Jolanta and Kasia (her queen rearing colleague) as well as the man himself, and his daughters Helen and Linnet. It’s great when children join the family business; it’s not for everyone, but I think it’s lovely when it works.

I always learn something when I speak with beekeepers, and this was no different. I picked up some interesting and helpful tips on queen introduction; a subject which is close to my heart, as I have an apiary of ‘feisty’ bees that needs re-queening. It was lovely to meet so many friendly folk who share a common bond.


I was co-hosting the seminars given throughout the day by speakers sharing their various products and innovations. My reflections on what I saw and heard are:

Bee Bay Kevin Stach shared the BBQX, a product that he hopes will be of interest to beekeepers who do not wish to open up hives very often. They are seeking crowdfunding, and the product is not yet available to buy. As a beekeeper who likes to see his bees I don’t see the appeal, but the same applies to the ‘flow hive’ and that seems to have been a commercial success.

The Queen Bee Meriet Duncan, author of the Betsie Valentine trilogy, has written the first two books in the series and is working on the third. They all follow the adventures of Betsie, who has a beekeeping parent. Meriet is an energetic and positive person who is spreading the word about bees to both young people and adults, and I wish her well. The first book looks great for primary school aged kids.

Thermomite Sammy from a company called PCM gave a clear and compelling talk about their invention that controls Varroa mites using heat rather than chemicals, thymol or organic acids. The heat pads can be recharged like a battery by placing them in boiling water for a short time, so that makes things nice and simple. They seem to have perfected a method that hits the sweet spots of temperature and duration that kill mites but not bees.

Although I’m all for knocking down varroa mites, I have reservations about heat treatments because of the potential to damage sperm in drones and the queen’s spermatheca. However, that could just be my natural walrus pessimism and caution.

BIBBA Jo Widdicombe, past President of the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association, talked about, surprisingly enough, bee improvement. He’s a nice guy and I agree with much of what BIBBA tries to do, which is basically to encourage beekeepers to raise queens and to stop importing them from abroad. I’m trying to do that, but bees in my area are such a mixed up bunch that open mating queens is a spin of the roulette wheel. Making queens is such a wonderful thing to do, and I do believe that more beekeepers should try it.

National Honey Show It was good to catch up with my former colleague Bob Maurer, chair of the National Honey Show. I know him from my BeeCraft days. His talk covered some of the history of our greatest honey show, which happens to be the world’s largest, and how much work goes into putting it on. It’s now held at Sandown Park in the Autumn, a venue that perfectly meets the complex needs of the show. 2023 marks the centenary year and a couple of beekeepers from the USA, Mike Palmer and Randy Oliver (both in my book) are coming over to speak. It should be good.

InstantVap Duncan Simmons showed off this smart looking device that seems to be the state of the art way to deliver oxalic acid to hives by sublimation. It is powered by an 18 volt battery, such as those many of us already use on power tools, and maintains a temperature of 230 Deg C, which is apparently a good thing. I already paid a lot for a Sublimox, but if I was going to buy a new OAV device, I think this would be it.

On a separate note, Duncan owes me two instrumentally inseminated breeder queens, so hopefully they’ll be on their way this summer.

Three YouTube Beekeepers

We had an hour-long Q&A session with Laurence Edwards, Gruffydd Rees & Richard Noel. It was, to say the least, very well attended. The power of social media was on display afterwards, as their followers lined up to have selfies taken with their heroes. Some good questions and answers made this a fitting end to a busy and successful event.

Walrus At Large

In the short intervals between hosting seminars, I managed to roam the trade hall, spending money on all sorts of goodies. I’d pre-ordered an Api Melter from Swienty and was excited to check it out as it stood gleaming for all to admire. Later on, Paul Horton kindly loaded it into his van and dropped it off at my place the following day. I also bought a new Swienty Breeze bee suit, a box of Apipasta fondant, Formic Pro, Vita-feed patties (just to try) and a load of honey jars from Rawlings. Oh, and I also ordered a load of Langstroth frames from Denrosa. This beekeeping thing isn’t cheap, is it?

I was also happy to do an interview for the Beekeeping Today podcast, who were interested in hearing about the show from various bee folk who attended. Finally, a handful of people kindly approached me to say that they enjoyed my book and/or this blog. No underwear was thrown, all very civilised, but gratifying to hear that readers enjoy at least some of what I do!

5 thoughts on “The Greatest Show of 2023

  1. Thanks for this, Steve. I wasn’t able to be there (but the West Sussex Convention was very worthwhile!) so this and the comments on BKF have been very interesting. You’re not the only one with reservations about varroa heat treatments. I liked the video walk round – but I should have taken a motion sickness pill first!

    • Ah yes, Graham Royle from my BKA was speaking there wasn’t he? He taught me at my beginners classes and did my basic assessment! Sorry about the motion sickness, but thanks for the feedback.

      • I’d love to see more of the stores and people,Richard and olli where a stand out in your video. You as well are a rockstar and truly hope to meet you one day as well. Till then keep writing and we’ll keep reading.👍🏼❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. That’s me at 1.12 in the video chatting to Mike from Wainwrights Farm with my mate Chris behind me in blue. I didn’t realise I was so tall. Good to briefly see you at the bar in the Holiday Inn on the Friday night

    • Hi Steve, sorry to not chat for longer, nice to meet you 🙂

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