Crowds of people swarmed on Johnstown Castle on Sunday for the first Festival of Honey which looks set to become a sweetly successful annual event.
The organisers were taken aback by the large number of visitors who turned up on Saturday and Sunday to talk to local beekeepers, see pollinators in action, taste samples of honey and engage in workshops about bees and biodiversity and the health benefits of honey.
The new festival has history behind it as beekeeping has a long tradition at Johnstown Castle where John Knox Grogan was given a grant for the keeping of bees from the Royal Dublin Society in 1802. South Wexford Beekeepers Association was established with Lady Maurice Fitzgerald of Johnstown as its first President.
The current apiary of six hives of wild native honey bees in Johnstown was established in 2017 by Matt Wheeler and staff in partnership with Teagasc and the Beekeepers Association and is located in the old melon garden, an extension to the upper walled garden.
As well as playing a vital role in pollinating flowers in the garden, the bees provide local raw honey and much sought after jars of it were on sale during the weekend along with honey from other producers including Tara Hill Honey.
Lorraine O'Dwyer of the culture and culinary tour company Gallivanting Tours, gave a beeswax workshop, showing people how to make their own eco-friendly alternatives to clingfilm, furniture polish, firelighters and lip and body balms. Lorraine is currently developing her own range of sustainable homecare products using natural ingredients.
Trish's Honey Products which include organic skincare creams using honey, hosted a beeswax candle making workshop show children how to make hand-rolled beeswax candles to take home.
Susan Boyle of Two Sisters Brewing showed how honey can be the magic ingredient to enhance food and drinks and introduced visitors to her beer St. Brigid's Ale which is made using honey from her father's beehives in Kildare.
Susan also hosted a panel discussion with food and honey experts on the important role played by bees in the cycle of life and the production of food and drink in Ireland.
The panellists included Brenda Comerford, General Manager of Johnstown; Matt Wheeler, Beekeper and Curator at Johnstown; Manuela Spinelli, secretary general of Euro-Toques Ireland; Anthony O'Toole, Head of Food Council for Euro-Toque, and Keith Browne of the Ryan Institute and School of Natural Scients at NUIG Galway.