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Mead Lover's Digest #0534 Sat 1 February 1997

 

Forum for Discussion of Mead Making and Consuming
Dick Dunn, Digest Janitor

 

Contents:

Re: Dying bees and honey prices (John Bowen) ("John R. Bowen")
Aging Mead? (Ben Pollard)
Problems affecting bees (Ken Schramm)
AMA (John A. Carlson, Jr.)
MS Brewpubs ("Wallinger")
Cherry Blossom honey (Mark Koopman)
honey prices (PickleMan)
Dry Hopping for flavor? (Richard Gardner)
Re: Questions (sam_bennett@om.cv.hp.com)
Honey Price in Toronto Area ("Allen T. Harris")
Acid Blend in Meads (Kurt Schilling)

 

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Subject: Re: Dying bees and honey prices (John Bowen)
From: "John R. Bowen" <jbowen@primary.net>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 12:28:56 +0000


>

Jeff Duckworth (#533) asks about dying bees:

>

> >murray@indigo2.scri.fsu.edu (John R. Murray) wrote:

> >

> >(there's some sort of crud killing off hives, so honey prices are up right
> now)

>

> I've heard this from my father as well, an ex-beekeeper because all of
> his hives have died four years in a row (damn, do I miss free honey!).
> Foul brood and other parasites are apparently killing off the genetically
> weak European? honeybee. He seems convinced that beekeeping as we know
> it is coming to an end. Does anyone have any more input on this?

>

I'm a one-hive beekeeper, and I've had my share of problems, but now I
think disease in under control. The two newest major problems are
Varroa mite (not so new) and tracheal mite. The tracheal mites are a
newer problem and are still spreading across the US–they have only
been significant here in Missouri for about 4 years. These mites will
rapidly destroy untreated hives–there are virtually no wild bees in
mite-infested areas and many beekeepers are reporting much higher hive
loss. The Varroa mite is usually controlled with Apistan(tm)
treatments fall and spring. There is much research into the tracheal
mite control. Some use menthol (a royal pain). Locally, we have had
good luck by continuously feeding the beed "patties" of shortening and
sugar. The grease seems to smother the tracheal mites and keep
infestions to a non-lethal level. The USDA and others are evaluating
resistant bee lines–some are commercially available, but I don't know
the current status.
In any event, beekeeping has become more work, and the inattentive
soon drop out of business. I don't know what effect this has on honey
prices as the importation of honey has a significant effect on
supply. But there may be fewer local beekeepers around, and local,
fresh prices will undoubtably rise. On the other hand, I don't know
any rich beekeepers–its hard, hot work and they earn what they can

get.

John


Subject: Aging Mead?
From: Ben Pollard <classicferm@fia.net>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 13:28:40 -0800


Just wondering what the general consensus of the group is towards
aging/conditioning of mead. Do you do it in bulk, in a carboy? Or do you
do it in the bottle? Is there a difference in flavor, clarity, etc. I
have been letting my meads bottle condition and just wondering about the
gain I would see if I left it in the carboy for a few more months. Also,
what is the upper limit on the alchohol content of cyser? I made one
that packs a punch at 17%. Is this about right for a cyser or did I need
to use a less attenuative yeast? Used 2 lbs of honey with apple juice to
make it a full gallon.

TIA

Ben C Pollard
Classic Fermentations, Amarillo Texas
classicferm@fia.net http://home.fia.net/~classicferm


Subject:  Problems affecting bees
From: Ken Schramm <SchramK@wcresa.k12.mi.us>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 14:37:28 -0500


Not to sound too alarmist, but there are serious problems affecting
the bee populations of the midwest, and presumably other areas of the
country. The biggest problems are two parasitic mites – varroa, and
tracheal mites. The varroa mite is a small exterior mite which
attaches itself to back of the the thorax of the worker honeybees and
weakens them to the point of death. The tracheal mite has similar
consequences, but infects the trachea, and (although my info is
sketchy here) also possibly other parts of the alimentary tract. The
damage these pests are doing is considerable, both in terms of killing
the bees during the producing season, and in tems of weakening the
hives so that the colony dfoes not survive the winter. Many Michigan
beekeepers have had winter losses as high as 90% in hives that would
have otherwise made it through the season.

There is some hope from chemical or medicinal treatment, and the
ability of beekeepers to repopulate hives can be quite impressive
(queens can be separated out and new colonies started reasonably
quickly), but the problem of loss of genetic diversity is not
without concern. The bees may overcome this themselves, or we may
come up with a "magic bullet," but for now the outlook seems more
troublesome than most would wish.

As far as foulbrrod is concerned, it has been around a long time, and
can be controlled. The control measures may be drastic, but they are
effective, which has not been the case with the mites. Africanized
honey bees may offer some hope, but the real threat to mead makers is
that honey bees are not the only bees which can be used for
pollenation. Mason bees are very effective pollenators, are not
really all that expensive, and DO NOT COLONIZE OR PRODUCE HONEY (did
you get that?). It is hard enough for many beekeepers to get
cooperation from their neighbors when they raise european honeybees,
let alone africanized bees (some people don't have time for the
truth, they are too busy with misconceptions).

Here's hoping that the good old, incredibly productive carnollian
honey bee rebounds to its deserved splendor.


Subject: AMA
From: jac@access.usa.net (John A. Carlson, Jr.)
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 14:45:54 -0700 (MST)


My sources tell me that Julian staff member of the AMA has left town. Andy
Lamorte in Denver
is trying to get things together. The Ambrosia Adventure is not going to
occur this year, maybe Andy can salvage it sometime in the future. Inside
Mead is probably dead for awhile as well.
Since Susan Price passed away the AMA has had some problems staying
together. I guess only time will tell if the organization will pull
through, but from what I hear things do not look bright.

  • –John

Boulder, CO


Subject: MS Brewpubs
From: "Wallinger" <wawa@datasync.com>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 19:29:27 -0600


This is a bit off topic, but bear with me. The state of alcoholic beverage
regulation is in sad shape in Mississippi, and we need all the support we
can get. Senate Bill 3010, which legalizes brewpubs, emerged from committee
this week. It should hit the floor for a vote soon. Those who support this
bill should contact their Mississippi Senators and Representatives. Feel
free to email me for more information.

Wade
Pascagoula, Mississippi
http://www.datasync.com/~wawa


Subject: Cherry Blossom honey
From: Mark Koopman <mkoopman@earthlink.net>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 19:34:59 -0600


Someone about 15 or 20 issues back had inquired about the availability
of cherry blossom honey. If that individual is still reading the posts,
Brewer's Beer Gear currently has gallons at $20. They can be reached at
brewers@brewgear.com, or through a commercial link off of F.C.'s Mead
Maker's Page.


Subject: honey prices
From: PickleMan <wrp2@axe.humboldt.edu>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 18:37:58 -0800 (PST)


I found honey at the local Costco for about $6.50 for five pounds. About
a year and a half ago, it was only $4 and some change. At that price it
seemed a bargain, and thats what I wanted since I was new to mead. I made
a couple of mediocore batches and a horrible(infected) one. After I
thought I knew what I was doing, I made a mead with some blackberry honey.
It was 15 clams for a gallon, and well worth it. I'd say if the
difference is only a few cents (or dollars, depending on your financial
situation), go for the better honey. Practice with the cheap stuff.

PickleMan


Subject: Dry Hopping for flavor?
From: Richard Gardner <rgardner@monarch.papillion.ne.us>
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 1997 23:18:19 -0600 (CST)


I've been thinking about dry hopping a show mead after 3 months or so. Due
to an overwhelming hop crop in the backyard, I've got lots and lots of
Northern Brewer. For those who aren't also homebrewers, dry hopping
involves adding hops to the carboy during the settling period after most of
the fermentation is over(no boil); this adds a floral hops arouma and taste.
I looked at some of the web references, but other than braggots I didn't see
any reference to using hops. Has anyone out there tried this? Any comments
or recommendations? If a good idea, would this be best for adry of a sweet
mead? (I think dry might be better to avoid the sweetness overwhelming the
floral). BTW, I usually make mead in 1 gal batches, and pasturize the honey
at 150F (no boil).

<<<Most truths are a lie>>>


Subject: Re: Questions
From: sam_bennett@om.cv.hp.com
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 97 21:50:26 -0800


Item Subject: cc:Mail Text
>Subject: Questions
>From: lfox@on-ramp.ior.com (Micheal and Linda Fox) Date: Sun, 26 Jan 97
>17:39:45 -0800 (PST)

>I have a question regarding sparkling mead vs. still mead.

>Do all melomels have to be sparkling, or do they just taste better that
>way? I haven't seen a recipe for a melomel that doesn't call for priming
>before bottling. I have two melomels and one basic mead batches running
>right now, and I was wondering which would be the best route to go with
>all of them. Any input would be appreciated!

You can do whatever you like best. I prefer still meads and melomels
myself, and have made several very good ones over the years. If you are
not sure which you like best, try priming some bottles and leaving the
others alone. This way you can compare the results of each.


Sanitation –

I started making mead as part of my interest in Midieval re-enactment. As
a result, I have kept away from using chemicals at all in my activities.
Before starting, I wash everything in hot, soapy water and rinse
thouroughly. I heat the must to skim off impurities but don't boil at all.
Using these simple precautions, I have never had any problems. I dislike
the taste of Sulfites, which (as some one pointed out) are found in nearly
all commercial wines and have found that wines and meads made without them
are *much* less prone to producing hangovers in cases of overindulgence.


Sam_Bennett@om.cv.hp.com

"Stupidity is like nuclear power, it can be used

for good or evil…and you don't want to get any of it on you."

Dilbert

 


Subject: Honey Price in Toronto Area
From: "Allen T. Harris" <ath@remove.this.interlog.com>
Date: Sat, 1 Feb 1997 07:28:38 -0500


I just bought some raw honey from the bee keeper at a $1.75/lb. This was
an Ontario wildflower blend (termed golden). It is some of the best honey
I have tasted. He also had buckwheat and alfalfa too at the same price.
The last time I bought honey was at Billy Bee (Canada's equivalent to Sue
Bee). It was raw honey and I got about 22lbs. of honey for 20 dollars.

Regards.

Allen

+++

Allen Harris ath@interlog.com
Mississauga, ON


Subject: Acid Blend in Meads
From: Kurt Schilling <kurt@pop.iquest.net>
Date: Sat, 1 Feb 97 07:35 CST


Howdy, ya'll. I've been noticing the resurected thread of acid blend in
meads in the past couple of issues.
While I do not have empirical evidence to back up my practice of not adding
acid blend pre-ferment, I do have some anecedotal (sp?) evidence. Back last
summer a buddy of mine made a batch of traditional mead from a kit. The kit
directions called for the addition of X amount of acid blend to the must
pre-ferment. So, he blythely added the acid blend per directions. Once the
must had been cooled, he pitched 2 pkgs of rehydrated yeast, and settled
back, secure in the knowledge that his mead would soon be fermenting
merrily. After 24 hours, no air lock activity, no bubbles on the surface,
nada, zilch. OK, my friend reasons, the yeast must have been defective.
Rehydrates two more pkges and pitches them. Another 24 hours later still no
activity. Two more pkgs of yeast are prepared and sacrificed with the same
result.

At this point, my bud is getting just a wee bit upset. After consulting the
oracles (ie doing some reading), he find a mention of pH in the literature
(McConnell and Schramm). Happily he knows someone with a reliable pH meter.
Taking a sample of the non-fermenting must to the lab and checking the pH,
he finds that the ph of the must was about 2.2!! Quickly adding calcuim
carbonate (and standing well away from the mouth of the carboy) the pH was
adjusted to about 3.9-4.1. With in an hour or less, the carboy was
VIGOROUSLY FERMENTING.

Moral of this story is: don't add acid blend just because the recipe tells
you to do so. Honey and water make a fairly acidic mixture, which becomes
more acidic druing fermentation. If you must add acid blend, get thee to a
brew shop that stocks acid testing kits and invest in one. Check the
acididty of your mead just before bottling, and adjust as necessary. The
mead needs a bit of acidity to be in balance, but it doesn't need excessive
acidity to ferment.

Another question that has popped up concerns the use of yeast nutrient and
the possibility of it causing off flavors. Certainly if one added a half
pound of nutrient, you should expect a salty tasting product. If you limit
the addition of yeast nutrient to 1-2 tablespoons per 5 gallons, I doubt
that you will have a problem. Barring that, just follow a recipe.

I've found over the course of 10 years of making meads, wines and beer, that
adequate yeast nutrition is critical. I currently use a yeast nutrient
called Fermax (a propiatary blend) as my main nutrient. I bolster this with
Yeastex-61 (another propriatary yeast suppliment) and yeast ghosts. I also
monitor pH and adjust to the 3-9-4.1 range with calcium carbonate. Only at
bottling do I bother to add acid blend, and then, only after checking the
titratale acidity of the beverage with an acid test kit.

Regarding the loss of the bee population. The varroa mites and tracheal
mites are two of the biggest problems that plague bees these days. Here in
Indiana, it typically costs about $15 per hive per year to treat for these
mites. Honey costs are up around $1.41/lb. And there are few if any wild
bees in my area any more.

Just my 2 cents worth of whatever. Hope that it makes sense to some of the
newer members of the group.

Kurt Schilling
SteinHaus Meadery and Farm
Anderson IN
e-mail: kurt@iquest.net



End of Mead Lover's Digest #534


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