Seems like our Tupelo Gold Reserve is on fire right now. This summer it won a Silver sofi Award at the Fancy Food Show, and in September it took home a bronze medal at the World Beekeeping Awards.
That's right, bronze. As in third place. In. The. World.
The World Beekeeping Awards is an international contest of all things related to beekeeping -- all types of honey, beeswax, meads, cosmetics, medicines, books, artwork, as well as for best innovations and inventions in beekeeping. In all, the WBA gave out more than 140 medals this year.
The awards take place during Apimondia, a conference and exposition held every other year. Its main objective is to bring together beekeepers, scientists, honey producers, and government agencies from all over the world to exchange information and engage in discussions to further the craft of apiculture. This year it was in Montreal, Canada, and hosted 6,000 participants and 200 exhibitors from 134 countries.
To be part of the honey contest, each entrant had to supply three samples of the same honey. Two were for judging and display, and one was sent out for analysis by an accredited facility. The honeys were tested for illicit sugars, antibiotic and pesticide residues, country of origin, and HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural). (Elevated concentrations of HMF in honey are an indication of overheating, poor storage conditions, or old honey.)
Turns out, 45 percent of the honey entries failed the lab analysis this year. Ooof! And, for a terrifying few minutes, Ted thought our Tupelo Gold Reserve was part of that 45 percent.
Here, in Ted's own words, is how it went down …
Tupelo Honey is my favorite of all honeys, so when I sent off the three tall bottles of Tupelo Gold Reserve Honey I had a hint of worry much the same way a parent has for their child entering a competition after signing them up.
I was confident the honey would score well on taste, color and so forth. However, I knew the judges would take off points for clarity because of all the micro-air bubbles present in the honey. (With the show so far off I kinda put it at the back of my mind and forgot about it, so we had only three days to get the honey strained, bottled, and shipped to Canada. In order to make the entry deadline, we ended up having to sacrifice clarity.)
As Apimondia and the World Beekeeping Awards neared, there came with it a rising sense of anxiety rooted in self-doubt. What if it doesn’t get high marks? What do I do if something is wrong with the testing? That could stain the company image in the beekeeping community!
At the opening ceremonies, the hosts addressed the largest Apimondia crowd ever and announced that almost half of the honey entries were disqualified from the show because they failed the testing. OMG! It would have been better not to enter at all than to have our honey fail the lab analysis! I had to sit on this news for several agonizing days while the judges finished their work, wondering whether my beloved Gold Reserve was one of the rejects.
By the time they finally announced that the awards were established and the judging area was open to the public, I was beyond nervous and actually a little nauseated. I waded through the crowd and the rows and rows of honeys lined up on long, many-tiered tables in search of our Gold Reserve. I finally spotted the tall bottle, standing high and proud, and let out a huge sigh of relief. Then I notice an index card to the left that read, “This exhibit failed laboratory testing and cannot further be judged.”
My heart dropped and my face turned red. How could this be? There was no further explanation on the card, so I tracked down one of the judges and asked her, “Why, why did we fail? We couldn’t have!” She said she didn’t know why, but that there would be a time later when entrants could meet with the judges for 10 minutes to get the details on what they found.
There were so many people milling around and looking at all the honeys. I was so embarrassed; I wished I weren’t standing next to my bottle. Then the woman said, “Wait, that’s your tall bottle right there? You didn’t fail. Look to the right at that sheet right there. You have to look at the little numbered stickers on the bottles. Your entry was number 97. You have won the Bronze Medal!”
My fist shot up into the air in celebration and I yelled, “YES!” I was so happy. What a crazy roller coaster. I thanked the woman for helping me and took some pictures like a proud papa. The micro-bubbles in the honey were still visible, and I thought maybe we would have taken the Gold Medal if it weren’t for that. But, like any loving parent, I know that mine is really the best of them all.
Maybe the award is a perceived reflection on me, but I can’t take the credit. Ultimately, it’s the bees who should. Really, all I contribute to the Gold Reserve is the declaration that it is the best of the best Tupelo Honey. In any case, I’m confident the Tupelo Honey that is with me every day, and that has my heart, is truly the best honey in the world.