Honey Judges and Stewards Guild

of South Africa

Eddy Lear, updated April 2019

Definition of Honeys:

  • Honey; is the sweet foodstuff derived from the nectaries of flowers or extra nectaries of plants after it has been gathered, partially converted and stored in the honeycomb by the honey bees.
  • Honeydew; is the sweet exudate of certain insects, usually aphids. The bees use it as raw material, instead of nectar extract.
  • Honeybees; of the genus Apis mellifera.
Honey displayed for judging
Honey displayed for judging
Honey Judges and Stewards

Honey Judges and Stewards

Overview of tasting.

Before I started getting an intolerance to sugar in my body one of my greatest passions in beekeeping was tasting honey. Not only had the honey harvested from my own hives, but that of hundreds of others.

Having been involved in the Rand Show apiarian section during the last centenary also broadened, not just what honey was available locally but the whole of South Africa and then in the later part of the 90’s I was able to taste honeys from all over the world, as a result of my connection with Apimondia. I often wondered what proportion of honey is consumed in the world that has actually delivered all the messages inherent within it and how much is just thrown down into the stomach without a pause on the incredible process that it’s been through to arrive on the table in a bottle.

Not only that but I’m sure you’ve all experienced how dull your senses are when you are not well.

We each have an olfactory area at the top of our noses where millions of nerve cells react to volatile molecules bearing flavour messages to the brain. These messages are merged and sorted in patterns, which may be recognised and identified by the brain. Vapour also reaches the olfactory area from the back of the mouth up to the retro-nasal passage.

Tasting something involves persuading it to release molecules which stimulate special nerve cells in the mouth or the much more discriminating ones of the nose. In fact we can sense flavour only as an aroma because our flavour-sensitive nerve cells are concentrated in a small, postage–stamp-size area at the top of the nose called the olfactory area, which transmits specific messages to the brain, and the only way of getting up there is to vaporise the liquid. (This is why most food tastes better or worse when hot than cold.)

To be able to taste honey to the full is to get those molecules encouraged to escape from the saturated honey liquid, liberated through various techniques and drawn into the olfactory arena by sniffing. Most judges in South Africa do this by slowly opening the jar and quickly sniffing in the residual aromas in the space between the top of the honey and the lid. This is partly because honey volatiles vaporise quite easily and honeys which are inherently quite aromatic need very little stimulation to float out of the aperture. Internationally in addition to the quick sniff, a wine glass is used and the honey is agitated with an odourless plastic spoon.

By sniffing from the lid gives a huge degree of identification of the various elements, but agitation liberates an extraordinary range of flavours, which also change with oxidation. The lid can also give off a smell and the honey judge wants to identify this.

We take a taste of the honey by putting a sample into the mouth. This is how most foods are ‘tasted’. Food is chewed in the mouth, transforming it into a liquid from which flavour molecules escape up into the olfactory area.

But what of those nerve cells in the mouth? These also have an important, but quite different role to play. We have about 10 000 taste buds on our tongues, distributed all over the tongue and to a lesser extent the inside of the mouth and a few at the back of the throat. Rather than distinguishing between thousands of different flavours the way that the olfactory nerve cells can, taste buds are sensitive to nothing more sophisticated than the basic ‘tastes’: sour, sourness or acidity, sweetness, bitterness and saltiness.

There is however a fair bit of disagreement about how exactly our taste buds function, but in very general terms, the taste buds are around the tip of the tongue.

Savoury or Umami is based in the centre of the tongue. And maybe neutral in taste.

Now the condition of the palate is essential when judging honey. These conditions can usually be overcome by drinking some sparkling water or chewing dry bread. However, people can do permanent damage to these receptors through; smoking, habitually drinking strong unsweetened black coffee, they can’t enjoy food without copious amounts of chilli, being obese and unhealthy (sickly) or over stressed.

Many of our taste receptors have been taught what is nice and what is not nice.  And these haven’t been challenged by our inquisitiveness of what other foods may taste like. The connection between our smell and taste receptors may be vast; for instance, in Cornwall, England you can go to a pup order a warm flat beer with a head. To me it smells like vomit, but tastes great. Other European beers I have also enjoyed but yet I’ve never acquired a taste for South African beers in general in both in smell and taste.

Many people have thought wine tasters would make good honey judges, unfortunately this is not true as honey has many more facets to deal with, which is expounded with mead judging.

Some tasting exercises:
  • Put a clothes peg on your nose, and see if you can tell the difference of black coffee from black tea?
  • Add a blindfold as well and you’d probably not be able to tell the difference between milk chocolate and cheddar cheese. These both demonstrate how important it is for the judge to be fit and well for the exercise.
  • To work out how your palate reacts to acidity, smell and then taste lemon juice or vinegar. It takes only a smell to make the sides of my tongue start to crinkle up, but different tasters react differently.
  • To identify tannin, rinse a mouthful of cold black tea round your palate and notice which parts of your mouth react most dramatically. (This will help you to identify adulterated honey as you cannot smell tannin nor sugar.)
  • To get some idea of body as it relates to honey, notice the difference in the palate between orange blossom honey and molasses.
Awarding of points in honey tasting competition.
  1. Start with presentation. Looking at honey is both the least pleasurable and important, but for judging can be the make or break.
  2. Colour. Looking at the honey should preferably be done against a white background.  The colour should be consistent to the experience the judge will get when he cracks open the lid.
  3. Aroma. The importance of smelling has already been covered. Maximise the experience by agitating in a wine glass. Notice if the smell is clean and attractive. It must be remembered that words are limited, thus poor describers of something as subtle, subjective and private as smell perception.
  4. Density. Texture and viscosity are measured.
  5. Taste.  Take a sample and try to ensure that all of the palate, or at least all of the tongue, is exposed to the liquid by twirling the tongue around. Notice how sweet, sour/acid, subtle bitterness, tannic or astringent and compare the difference between it and water. Take another sample and allow the pleasures of you palates history come to the fore.
Awarding of points for Frames of comb honey competition.
  1. Start with presentation. Check evenness of capping, percentage covering of capping, cleanliness of frame and comb, suitability for uncapping and deformities such as mapping by braula.
  2. Colour. The colour of the cappings should be well selected, the cappings should look fresh, there should be transparency through the comb and the selection should be single source.
  3. Aroma. The importance of smelling has already been covered, and the same attributes are looked for as in liquid honey. The frame shouldn’t smell of smoke, creosote or any other unnatural smell not related to the interior of the hive. The judge will sample the honey and conduct the same test as in liquid
  4. Density. The same as liquid honey
  5. Taste.  As in liquid honey except there should not be oiliness in the taste, raised HMF due to age.
Awarding of points for Wax blocks competition.
  1. Start with presentation. Check quality of block. Overall cleanliness. Avoid cracks. Complies with mass requirements. Smoothness of exhibit. Check for frosting and air in the block.
  2. Colour. The colour of the wax should be well selected, the wax should look fresh with no distortion due to heat and the selection should be single source.
  3. Aroma. The importance of smelling has already been covered. The wax shouldn’t smell of smoke, creosote or any other unnatural smell not related to the interior of the hive. The judge will rub the wax to arouse the vapours to detect burning and hive condition.
  4. Density. It should be consistent. There should not be any bubbling crumbling.
  5. Oral texture.  The flavour should be pleasent.
Honey basics.

To start the process of becoming a honey judge, a potential candidate needs to prove that they are able to produce honey judging quality of honey and products. They need to have won in their entries at least 3 times. They would be expected to enter into liquid class: Light, medium and dark, granulated and also into light wax, super frame capped comb and a commercial display of honey, frames of both super and brood capped honey and wax.

The potential honey judge must have a feel of what they are entering and take great care to enter honey as close to the bees natural production as possible. This means that there should be the least exposure to air in the extraction process.  Honey becomes oxygenated and due to its inherent hydroscopic qualities will draw in moisture if the humidity is greater than 50% at 21° C.

It has been found that honey with a moisture content of 17,4% is in equilibrium with air with a relative humidity of 58%, while in the case of honey with a moisture content of 16,1% the equilibrium relative humidity is 52%.  Honey from dryer areas tends to have a lower moisture content than from moister areas.

Direct sunlight of the honey will also affect it adversely.

If the temperature is warm, the atmosphere has a greater capacity to hold water in a vaporous state than if it were cold. The dew point reflects the water vapour content in the air and that water vapour influences the hydroscopic properties in honey. If the air is filled with water vapour, it can’t hold much additional water. So when the dew point is high and the water vapour content is high it creates the best combination for the hydroscopic conditions to work.

The bees work hard fanning the nectar to bring down the water content in honey (known as ripening).  However, even they will cap honey at higher water content if the humidity is such that no evaporation takes place. This is why some honeys will be more viscus than others taken from the same crop at the same time of year in a different year.

The cleanliness of the honey extraction facility will also impact on the quality of honey.  If the facility is not rat proof, even the taste of rat urine might be caught up in the honey. Rats urinate on everything to mark their territory and while you are sleeping will enter a honey extractor and leave their mark. This was a condition that Peter Mountain found in honeys regularly.

Kitchens can be a no no, especially if your wife is making food with onion or garlic while you are extracting the honey in the kitchen. A honey judge would pick up a dirty oil taste in the honey.

Natural honey has a complex and heterogeneous composition, the components of which are directly dependant on the type of vegetation, the soil, the weather conditions, the health of your colony and their strength, the conditions under which the nectar is collected, the means used by the beekeeper in harvesting and extracting. Citrus honey from the Eastern Cape will differ in composition from that produced in the bushveld regions.

The moisture content:

The natural moisture content of honey in the comb is that remaining from the nectar after ripening.  Its composition is thus a function of the factors involved in ripening, including weather conditions and original moisture of the nectar.

It is one of the most important characteristics of honey, having a profound influence on keeping quality, granulation and body.

The average water content is 17,2% or 172g per kg of honey. When it gets to 20% then there is a likelihood of fermentation, especially if it granulates. Honey has been found to be as low as 12%.

The sugars of honey:

In today’s world there are powerful analytical and separation procedures of honey revealing honey to be a high complexity of sugars.  The simple sugars, glucose and fructose, predominate and give honey its sweetness, hydroscopic properties, energy value and physical characteristics.

Honey is above all carbohydrate material with 95% to 99.9 % of solids being sugars. Sugars are classified according to the size and complexity of their molecules. The simple sugars known as monosaccharides are the building blocks of the more complex types.  The disaccharide sugars are made of two monosaccharides joined in various ways; many of these are known.  Common examples are maltose (malt sugar), sucrose (table sugar) and lactose which is (milk sugar).

Polysaccharides are higher sugars of which only about 1,5% is found.

Minerals in honey:

The ash content of honey averages about 0,17% of its weight, but varies widely from 0,02% to over 1%. Calcium and phosphorus are the minerals present in the body in the largest amount. Next in order come potassium, sulphur, sodium, chlorine and magnesium. In general dark honeys are richer in minerals than light honeys.

Not quite minerals, but are the flavour and aroma substances (terpenes, aldehydes, alcohols, esters, tannin, acetylcholine, etc.,)

Vitamins in Honey:

Honey contains small, but measurable amounts of several vitamins, namely thiamine, riboflavin, ascorbic acid pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and nicotinic acid.

Enzymes in honey:

These are complex materials formed in living cells that are in carrying out the myriad reactions and processes of life.  The most important enzyme in honey is undoubtedly invertase which converts the sucrose of nectar into the “invert sugars” glucose and fructose found in honey.

The quality of pollen also has an effect on the enzymes, ultimately having an effect on the enzyme quality.

So in the larger scheme of things the judge is looking for things that would take away the purity of the honey. In South Africa we do not use extra-sensorial methods for testing the honey for brix measurements, HMF analysis (although can be detected) Stable Isotope Ratio Analysis, Oligosaccharides, capillary GC, Organic acids, Metals and pesticide residues as in the West. These are only used when adulterated honey is being tested.

Preparing for exhibit.
When harvesting your honey take note of what you’re collecting.  If it is found to be good set it aside. Check your frame against the light and look for different colours. Bees are very territorial and particular and this behaviour ensures that they will not mix honey from different sources.

If there are two sources, then uncap only the one colour, extract and then uncap the other.

Check one frame against another and if there is a different colour, again keep them separate.

To prevent honey from granulating keep it in the freezer until it needs to be delivered to the judging venue.

For bottled honey, select your bottles well, ensuring that the glass and lids do not have any deformities or inherent spots.  Ensure the lid is the colour required by the exposition.  Clean them well.  When filling with honey keep them warm to try and prevent air entrapment.  Fill to the ridge on the bottle just before the screwing section.

Once you have filled the bottle, check for air bubbles, specks of dust in the honey. If you see specks, using a queen larva tool, try to remove the speck (making sure the tool is clean). If there are entrapped air bubbles place bottle in a sunny position with a black sock over it. Don’t let the honey get above 37° C, otherwise it will change colour.

For Honey on the comb, select your frames with 95% or more capped cells. Clean the frame of all propolis or wax. Check that there are not different colours of honey on the exhibit. If the competition calls for 3 frames of honey, check that all three are the same colour and not granulated. Again a deepfreeze can be used to store until judging. Note that the honey will granulate very fast after reaching ambient temperature again.

For bees wax, obtain a mould that will hold 2 kg of beeswax. Use a silicone spray inside the mould. Heat the wax and clean by boiling in distilled water.  Allow to harden and remove any debris from the base. Bring to a liquid again and pour through a sieve with a 45µm aperture. Do not heat too often as this causing the wax to darken.

If you steam your frames to garner wax then the wax should be clean, but you’ll just need to heat it to pour into mould.

The art is to ensure that the wax does not split during cooling. Make sure it is clean and rubbed down as the judge does not want to taste silicon or any other oily substance used for releasing purposes. Weigh the wax as it will be disqualified if under 2 kg.

So, you have now won prizes on three different occasions and would like to pursue the craft of judging. It will be an entrance criterion to pass a tasting test. You will be given a blind test to see whether you can distinguish between sweet, sour/acidic, salty, bitter or plain from 10 samples.

On passing this test you can become a Steward registered by SABIO.  SABIO will ensure you get the exposure to progress.


The steward will do all the leg work at a show.

The Chief Steward:

  1. The chief steward shall be nominated by the board of SABIO for a minimum of two years. The person is to accept the position in writing, acknowledging the contents of the Judges Honey tasting Requirements document.  The position shall only be made available to a person who has been a reliable steward for a minimum of 3 shows. The chief steward may delegate any of his responsibilities to the stewards, but remains accountable for it.
  2. The chief steward takes sole responsibility for the actions of the stewards and Judges. The chief steward may request an assistant chief steward if the show becomes too onerous for them or a paid steward should SABIO agree.
  3. The chief steward is to liaise between the board of SABIO and the Exhibiting Show Organisers. He shall plan activities around the dates of the show, giving ample warning of the event to all stakeholders. He shall set up meetings on progress plans, set a date for the setting out of the stand, followed by a delivery date and staging of exhibits and then set up a day for judging. During honey judging a separate room, where there will be no disturbance should be available. Signage indicating judging is taking place would be a benefit. A prize giving day/evening should also be nominated.
  4. From date of appointment the chief steward is to keep a record of all activities, minutes of meetings, etc., before and after the show. This should be recorded in the Chief Steward’s report to SABIO, which may be summarised and printed in the SA Bee Journal
  5. The chief steward is to request the names of all stewards from SABIO and invite them to participate in the upcoming Show. The Steward should sign a register acknowledging their availability and commitment.
  6. The chief steward is to write to previous years exhibitors encouraging them to participate at the upcoming Show. An advert should go out to all the members of SABIO and/or general public, to entice new participation in show exhibits.
  7. The chief steward is to arrange a duty roster for the stewards that have acknowledged their stewardship.
  8. The chief steward should have meetings with the team of stewards to identify how the exhibit is to be set up. The team should evaluate the space and cabinet requirements. The exhibition stand should be set up before delivery day.
  9. The chief steward shall give adequate instructions to the stewards ensuring that they understand their duties.
  10. The chief steward should arrange for exhibit labels to be printed or pre-printed as per stationery requirements.
  11. The chief steward shall appoint a checker from the list of stewards.
  12. The chief steward shall appoint someone to calculate the scores.
  13. The chief steward shall have a copy of the latest honey standard regulation, with which he may disqualify an exhibit if it does not meet the minimum criteria.
  14. The chief steward shall see that all entries are recorded and stored safely for staging day.
  15. The chief steward shall arrange prize tags be placed on winning entries.
  16. The chief steward shall be available for any queries that the judge may have.
  17. The chief steward to inform all the stewards and judges of dress code for judging day and prize giving.
  18. All score cards to be signed by judge.
  19. On commencement of show, the chief steward should check that all winning positions are displayed by exhibit and certificates are printed out by SABIO secretary. They shall notify the winners of their success and arrange for their attendance at the prize giving event.


  1. The steward shall accept the entries of exhibitors on staging day and place in display cabinets after placing the exhibit number on the lid and bottle. In the case of distant exhibitors, the steward might receive a fresh set of lids.  The new clean set should replace the original lids.  The exhibits shall be handled with care when placing/staging into the exhibit position to ensure that the exhibitor is not penalised for sticky lids as a result of the steward’s carelessness.
  2. To ensure all score cards and sheets are in place.
  3. To set up judging tables. These tables are to be prepared with brown paper on which parallel lines are ruled for each section at 80mm apart.
  4. To ensure that there is one wine glass per tasting entry, a scale for weighing the wax. Sparkling water with cup and dry bread (unbuttered) for the honey judge. Colour glasses or refractometer should be provided by the chief steward, to check entries.
  5. The steward is to shadow the judge and observe what the Judge does, but may not question the judge, which could unduly sway the judges’ decision.
  6. To be fully conversant with the scores given and the calculation to weigh the score appropriately to lower the risk of subjectivity.
  7. Ensure the exhibits are lit sufficiently
  8. To have on hand all the judges’ score cards and categories.
  9. Each table to have 3 chairs allocated.
  10. Two tables are to be allocated for the addition of scores and administration.
  11. Stewards should record the comments made by the judge on the score card.

Equipment requirements:

  1. Trestle tables according to number of entries, but one for mead, one for wax and at least two for honey exhibits. Two admin tables should also be available.
  2. Chairs, one per table for judge, steward and checker.
  3. Dust bins.
  • Stationary and cleaning materials.
    • Black ball point pens
    • Pencils
    • Erasers
    • 5mm thick Koki pen.
    • Brown paper
    • Scissors.
    • Ruler
    • Drawing pins
    • Examination pad
    • Steward’s duty books
  • No admittance signs
    • Cloth and bowl for cleaning judges tools
    • Score sheets
    • Masking tape.
    • Labels (round sticker) with exhibit number, two per exhibit. i.e. If exhibit require 3 bottles there should be 6 labels
    • Wine glasses. “Paris Goblet”
    • Sparkling water.
    • Sliced bread.
    • Colour grading glasses/refractometer.
    • Bottle opener

No polishing or adjustment of exhibits inside the hall after staging will be permitted.

Once the Chief Steward has completed his 2 years, he may become a learner Judge by submitting their intention to SABIO. The board shall evaluate the professionalism of the candidate during their tenure of being Chief Steward. On the SABIO recommendation he will undergo an examination indicating his understanding of tasting.  On successful completion of the exam, they shall be nominated to Judge the next upcoming show (whether minor or major) under the supervision of a mature Judge.  The mature judge shall in a non-partial manner recommend or disqualify the candidate. Should the candidate wish to continue aspiring to be a judge, they shall repeat the exercise until the mature Judge recommends to SABIO that the candidate is qualified and competent to be recognised as a fully-fledged Judge. If the candidate is of the opinion that he has been wrongly disqualified, SABIO should hear the case and adjudicate whether the mature Judge has been partial. They may call for an independent second Judge to observe the tasting abilities of the candidate.

On successful accomplishment, SABIO will present a certificate of excellence to the candidate.


  1. Judging to take place on the date selected starting at 08:00.
  2. It is the Judges prerogative to move any entry to a more suitable class or category, without prejudice to the entry.
  3. Judging will be by points
  4. If an exhibit is below 45%, that exhibit will not be displayed.
  5. When attending the judging event, the judge should be clean in appearance, with no noticeable body odour or too much deodorant. His breath should be fresh with no tint of cigarettes or alcohol smells. His focus should be normal with no signs of blurring, loss of memory or a disability, which could hinder their ability to judge.
  6. A first prize will not be awarded to an entry if there are not more than 3 entries for the category.  No prize will be awarded unless the exhibit attains the following standards of excellence:


For a 1st Prize………………………90 points or over

For a 2nd Prize……………………..80 points or over

For a 3rd Prize………………………70 points or over


For a 1st Prize……………………….80 points or over

For a 2nd Prize………………………70 points or over

For a 3rd Prize……………………….65 points or over

A sample of honey should be placed into a “Paris goblet” (wine glass) where most of the sensory tests are done ‘blind’.  To avoid discrimination and partiality, only once the sensory tests have been completed should the judge move over to do the examination of the outward appearance.


On first impressions when opening the container; is the aroma pleasant?  Does the aroma linger while the container is open?  Does the aroma remain pleasant or are some of the volatiles coming out of suspension and leaving a different sensation?  Is the aroma enhanced when rubbed in the wine glass?  Award 2 points if all the criteria are positively reinforced. 1 point if the aroma is pleasant and lingers.  0 points if it is pleasant on opening but is lost once opened.  –1 point for the fact that there is an aroma but neutral. –2 if aroma is nasty or totally non-existent.

If the nasal sensation from rubbing the honey with the back of a spoon against the side of a glass is pleasant award 2 points.  If the sensation is good but lost after a few seconds or if the sensation improves after a few minutes award 1 point.  If there is deterioration by the volatiles becoming lost immediately after rubbing 0 points.  If the volatiles are only slight to begin with –1 point.  If the volatiles are non-existent –2 points.

Have any smells been absorbed into the honey through processing.  If the smell is totally agreeable indicating purity and freshness of honey, lacking metallic undertones, high HMF and oxidation, then award 2 points. If there is any hesitancy towards being agreeable 1 point.  If there is no agreement 0 points.  If there is a dislike –1 point. If objectionable (like H2S or bad egg from absorption of smells from the room where the honey was processed) –2 points

Being a product of the hive there should be some identifiable aroma which reminds a beekeeper of the floral source.  On the other hand if some form of deterioration has taken place within the hive through the presence of medication, the small hive beetle or foul brood.  These aromas are often conveyed with the honey.  Should the fragrance be such as to indicate the source and freshness of recently extracted honey from a healthy hive, award 2 points. If there is only a floral fragrance with no perception of the hive; 1 point.  If there is fresh fragrance but no floral appreciation 0 points.  If there is something in the honey which could point to fermentation – 1point.  If there is a definite aroma of souring due to disease in the hive –2 points


Place in mouth and allow the honey to make contact with all the sensors in the mouth.  If the taste is well balanced there will be a sensation to swallow immediately.  On the other hand there maybe something which gives the sensation to spew out.  If totally agreeable, then swallow. If there is any bitterness this will now be recorded by the sensors in the mouth.  Award 2 points if all the criteria are positively reinforced. 1 point if the taste is pleasant and lingers.  0 points if it is pleasant on placing in the mouth but after a while the sensation changes.  –1 point for the fact that there is a bland taste. –2 if the taste is nasty or unpleasant.

There is a pronounced taste of a monoflora honey then award 2 points.  If there is a pronounced taste of multiflora honey 1 point.  If there is a foreign taste in the honey 0 points.  If there is a taste of artificial honey –1 point.  If there is an objectionable honey taste –2 points

The aftertaste is consideration of the sensations that occur after the honey has been swallowed.  If the delight is continuous or even seemingly more enjoyable and interesting award 2 points.  If there is a residue of pleasure award 1 point.  If the sensation is bland award 0 points.  If there is a slight souring in the mouth –1 point.  When there is a distinct sensation of dislike award –2 points

Is the honey consistent in the feel on the tongue?  No noticeable degrees of solid granules or conglomerates, with an even consistency; 2 points.  There are some granules but not distracting from the honey 1 point.  There are many granules or conglomerates 0 points.  The feel of the granules or conglomerates is noticeable and slightly uncomfortable –1point.  The granules or conglomerates are such that you would not want the product for yourself –2 points.

The idea of judging density is to determine whether there are properties which could cause the honey to deteriorate or to make it unpleasant to use.  If it has a low viscosity this would normally indicate that the water content is high, which would in all likelihood cause fermentation.  Test the density with an instrument.  If using a spoon draw the honey up. If it has a thick stringiness look and slowly becomes thin before it breaks award 2 points.  If the honey is not as thick as experience suggests it should have 1 point.  If the honey is thin and flows quickly 0 points. If the honey flows quickly –1 point.  If the honey is like water –2 points.

Stickiness is not necessary with honey, but if found in the wrong place will have an impact.

Oiliness could indicate a residue, contaminating the honey due to negligence of the producer, but some plants exude an oil which can sometimes be seen floating when honey is diluted with warm water.  If there is no sign of oil 2 points. If there is a slight presence of oil and it can be determined to emanate from the nectaries 1 point.  If the oil content gives a taste 0 points.  If it is apparent that oil has been added –1 point.  If the product is spoilt due to the oil content –2 points.

How is honey absorbed?  A droplet smeared on back of hand or the arm should be seen to be absorbed within few seconds.  If the honey is pleasantly absorbed quickly 2 points.  If there is any indication that it does not meet the first criteria 1 point.  If the honey takes a few minutes to absorb 0 points.  If the honey needs to be diluted before it is absorbed –1 point.  If the honey does not absorb under dilution and is unpleasant –2 points.


The composition has to do with the mixture of things in the honey and how each element compliments the overall effect by sight, smell, taste or touch.

Has the honey been cleaned of all the debris? If it has, then it has been well selected.  If there is no noticeable particle of dust, crystal, air bubble award 2 points. If there is one particle noticeable award 1 point.  If there are at the most five particles observed 0 points.  If there is noticeable dirt without examination –1 point.  If honey is full of particles and thus clouded –2 points.

This criteria has to do with the container selection.  Is it complimentary to the honey it contains?  The container enhances the honey it contains and makes it “mouth-watering” award 2 points.  The container enhances the honey but does not make it more appetising; 1 points.  The container does not enhance the honey, but at the same time does not detract from it; 0 points.  The honey is clouded by the container –1 point.  The honey cannot be seen in the container –2 points.

It is perceived that the honey was bottled without any fore thought of the consequences.  If it can be determined that the container was meticulously cleaned as well as the honey that they both sparkle 2 points.  The bottle and honey were subject to cleaning but not shined up 1 point.  Either one or the other of the container or honey were not cleaned 0 points.  No real effort was made to clean the container or honey –1 point.  The combination looks unhygienic –2 points’.

No score required for artistic criteria with honey.


The overall effect of this exhibit.  Considering the application and the show being open to the public; does this item make an impact?  Does it draw your attention?  Is it something you would like to own? 2 points if it fulfil all these criteria, 1 point if partial, 0 points for neutral, -1 for no effort and –2 if it detracts from the excellence of others.


Figure 1 – BrainFacts.org – Taste and Smell

Figure 2 – The original tongue map depicting which areas of the tongue sense the four primary tastes.  Courtesy of James Beard Foundation