Tuesday, November 11, 2014


“Honey tasting judge” 

    A couple of years ago I agreed to be a judge in a chili cook-off. It was for a good cause. They always are. It took eight weeks for the swelling to go down enough for my doctor to safely reattach my left retina. Did I mention it was for a good cause?

    Last week, I got pegged for another food judging contest, only this one was sweet. That meant I wouldn’t be leaving the event in a white van with strobe lights and a siren blaring. No I was picked to judge a honey contest. “Sweet” is good.

The Montgomery County Beekeepers Association (mocobees.com) is a group of about 150 people, some of whom raise bees as a hobby, and all of whom are honey bee enthusiasts. 

    Chari Elam, one of two First VPs of the group, thought it would be cool if Brad Meyer and I helped in judging the 35 honey entries. She still remembers “Whine and Dine with Brad and Mark.” How nice is that? (Chari’s husband, James, is the second First VP of MoCo Bees. Two firsts? Must be a bee thing.)

After the invite to honey judge, I asked Brad if he thought it’d be okay if I invited Big Al and Kay to join us. Kay likes bees and honey, and Al is good with public appearances. Brad said, “Well, ‘spam’! Go ahead and invite the whole ‘spam’ family!” Only, he didn’t really say “spam.”

    Joining us was Tom Lister, a MoCo Bee member, selected to ad a touch of legitimacy to the judging. We welcomed any hint of legitimacy.

James and Chari had previously been our guests on the Mark and Cindy Internet Radio Talk Show (irlonestar.com) That couple shined. They are funny and bee literate at the same time. Their senses of humor are so Hayterish that I’m fairly sure we’re related somehow.

    Okay we’re now at the Texas AgriLife Building on Airport road just across the street from the Lone Star Convention Center. A nice facility. Chari escorted us into a giant kitchen/work-area, where we were introduced to the intricacies of honey judging.

Just as the judging began, the voice of guest speaker, Master Beekeeper Lance Wilson came over the intercom where we were doing our judging. In the world of beekeeping, the name “Lance Wilson” is a big draw. He’s the Einstein of bees. I could understand every fifth word of what he said.

    Understanding was not our job, though. We were tasters. We tasted by dipping short Popsicle sticks into small plastic containers of honey. The 35 samples were divided into seven groups of five. (I was confused at the very beginning.) We judged each grouping together.

    Before the tasting began, I actually thought that honey was honey, and that it’d be hard to differentiate between different samples. I was so naïve. There are big honey differences. Taste, texture, color, degree of sweetness... After my twentieth sampling I added another category – Medicinal taste.

    At one time Big Al belched quietly and then said, “Hold it! I just got another taste of sample 22, and I want to change my vote.” I laughed till I about lost sample 25. Is there any wonder why I like to have my kid brother around?

    By the time the tasting was over, I had a cup full of 51 sample sticks. Chari wouldn’t let us double dip, so anytime I forgot to write down my assessment, I had to resample the sample. After entry 18 I had trouble focusing. At 27, I started patting my head and cheeks. Didn’t notice it till Kay brought it my attention.

    When it was over, Chari had me announce the winners. Brad wasn’t in the mood, Al couldn’t quit belching, Kay wouldn’t, and Tom couldn’t touch anything without it sticking to his hands. We were a mess.

I vaguely remember my first comment. It went something like “Up until this evening, my regularity was always in question.” They thought it was a joke. 

After the announcement of the winners, we took a seat and listened to Round Two of Lance Wilson’s lecture. After about fifteen minutes, the guy began to get interesting. I learned so much about Africanized bees, bee diseases, honey badgers and drones.

Did you know that 90 percent of the bees in a hive are girls? They do all the work. The drones just sit around, drink nectar and meet girls. A few ultra fanatical Middle Easterners call that heaven… absent the bees.

    I see that time is up. I can’t leave, though, without thanking Tom Lister, MoCo Bee President, Leesa Hyder, the members of the Montgomery County Bee Keepers Association, and especially Chari  and James Elam and Chari’s parents’ Robert and Shirley Meadows,

Oh, and Lance Wilson. – Did you know that honeybees are responsible for about 80 percent of our nation’s fruit, vegetable and seed crop? And 12 percent of the regularity among U.S. citizens. (Lance didn’t say that that last part. I made it up. But, I’m fairly sure it’s true.)


1 comment:

  1. This made me laugh out loud in a restaurant and people were looking at me. Thanks for the chuckles and information.