Mead Lover's Digest #0478 Tue 14 May 1996


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



Cyser clarity (brewmaster Mitch)
Chinese honey (Richard Webb)
Cyser–clearing (Paul Mozdziak)
Re:honey sources, etc. (Tom Messenger)
Mail-order supplies (Dennis B. Lewis Jr.)
strawberry wine (Douglas Thomas)


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Subject: Cyser clarity
From: (brewmaster Mitch)
Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 12:23:35 -0500 (CDT)

Just another data point. My cysers have always been the clearest of all my
meads. I only make one cyser per year, following our clubs annual apple
pressing, but I have always attained brilliant clarity after about four months
and a couple of rackings. Typically after the second racking all the remaining
apple tannins/whatever drop right out of suspension, giving it a pale
golden straw color.

I'm on cyser five right now, and have never deviated from absolte clarity.
Fruit meads always seem the clearest. I have my biggest clarity woes from the
traditional meads.



  • – Mitchell B. Gelly — owner & brewmaster of the ManOwaR nanoBrewery —

software QA specialist – UNIX|VMS|AOS systems administrator – Usenet admin
BJCP certified beer judge – brewer of ales, lambics, meads, and ciders

Subject: Chinese honey
From: Richard Webb <>
Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 13:00:42 -0700

In the last MLD, there was a comment on the source of Chinese honey being
not 'true' honey, but something produced by bees that had been fed sugar
water. (Geez, sometimes I wish that I weren't so quick to delete things,
but I did just that before deciding to reply. If someone would be kind
enough to copy and send out the original message, I would be very

In any case, I'd like to refute the suggestion. However, I've never been
to China. I do have a friend in the honey importing business, and as soon
as I get some sort of reply from him, I'll be sure to post it onto this
board. He imports honey from all over the world, and blends the different
varieties in order to achieve a uniform and consistant product. We're doing
experiments to determing the suitability of this honey for mead making…

As a final note related to sugar feeding bees, it is not unusual for
bee keepers to feed their hives sugar water, and for a number of reasons.
If too much of the honey stock is removed from the hives, there is
insufficient food remaining in storage for the survival of the colony. Sugar
water is often introduced in order to get passed this short term problem in
food supply.

Similarly, when introducing a new swarm of bees to a hive box, it is common
practice to put the bees in the box, plug the entrance with grass or something
else suitable, and then feed the bees sugar water in order to encourage them
to stick around, as well as giving them something to eat while they are getting
used to their new home. Likewise, a plug of sugar is used to plug the hole of
the box used to introduce a new queen to a colony. By the time the plug is
chewed through, the hive is 'used' to the smell and presence of the new
queen, and she is accepted as the leader of the hive.

Also, with all of the problems that American bee keepers have had with mites and
protozoa type parasites, a bee keeper often finds that the honey produced by a
hive is 'contaminated', and must be removed while a medication program takes pla
Again, sugar water could be fed to the hive to ensure it's survival while it's
primary source of food has been removed.

Finally, I doubt that it is cost effective to make sugar to feed to bees in orde
to make honey. I'm not saying it isn't or can't be done, but it does seem
unlikely. I did make a lovely cyser type mead with a 'honey' made from the
over winter feeding of apple juice to a hive. At 30$ a gallon, this stuff isn't
cheap, and I won't be doing this particular experiment too often. But the stuff
does have a subtle apple flavor and aroma that I've never been able to get
with conventional apple juice added to mead experiments…

Rich Webb, potential dabbler in bee-keeping and known dabbler in mead-making

Subject: Cyser--clearing
From: (Paul Mozdziak)
Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 17:00:58 -0500

I clear my cyser with Sparkloid. I have only been able to clear my meads,
pyments etc. completely using sparkliod.
Paul Mozdziak
NASA Space Biology
Research Associate
Department of Anatomy
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Phone 608-262-5984
Fax 608-262-7306

Subject: Re:honey sources, etc.
From: Tom Messenger <>
Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 20:50:56 -0700 (PDT)

Michael L. Hall recently wrote to the mead digest about honey sources. I
answered him back and then decided to also post my response here too. Have at.

Mike, you recently posted to the mead digest about the quality of honey from
various sources. Further, you asked for comments. Here is my 2 cents.
Absolutely not backed up by anything other than anecdotal evidence so buyer

  • -snip

Micah Milspaw sez:
> We noted a considerable difference in those made with generic
> honey as opposed to those made with apiary direct unprocessed
> honey.

  • -snip

This is certainly the common wisdom and is probably correct most of the
time. As with most food products, the further you get from the source,
usually the worse the product gets. In the case of honey, the bigger the
firm doing business, the greater their losses if something goes wrong. To
help keep things from going wrong, they tend to: filter heavily, heat
pasteurize, and water down. Not talking about Chinese sources; this is in
the good ole U S of A.

Local beekeepers on the other hand will tend to appreciate the product and
not want to spend time/money on processing. So it tends to be fresher and
more flavorful since the aromatics haven't been chased out by heat and

  • -snip

For example, he thought that some beekeepers that trucked their bees around
to various crops were not treating their bees well, since a large fraction
of the hive would die in the process. The main incentive to do this was
monetary: farmers would pay well to get their crops pollinated.

  • -snip

Your beekeeper is certainly in the minority here. Why? First: commercial
beekeepers that do this don't want to lose their bees anymore than you or I.
They use the old secret about going to the sun without getting all burned
up. To wit, they do it at night. At night, just about 99.9% of the bees
are in the hive. These people lead hard lives trucking their bees around in
the wee hours. They absolutely don't want to do it in a way that would
leave lots of them behind. Loss of bees = loss of income.

You see, they DO make money pollinating crops but they reap a double harvest

  • – they also collect the honey to sell. It's in their best interests not to

lose bees. And you should thank your lucky stars that they do it. This is
the MAJOR method by which our food crops are pollinated. We owe them a bit
of gratitude. But don't talk with your mouth full!

  • -snip

He talked a lot about the generic honey that can be bought in the
supermarket (Sue Bee(Tm) and others). Apparently, much of this honey was
bought from oriental suppliers, who lived under different governmental
regulations on the definition of honey. The honey produced in China,
among other places, is gotten from bees that have been force fed sugar.
It can be called honey because it technically has gone through a bee,
but it lacks the special flavors derived from flower nectar that we are
all so fond of. Due to the tariff structures, this honey is cheaper than
American honey, so the packagers bought it and mixed it with a little
clover honey to give it some character. He also said that things are
changing in the tariff structures, so this situation may not persist.

  • -snip

I've heard a lot of negative comments about the Chinese in respect to trade
of all sorts. Prison labor, low standards, etc. Some is no doubt true;
some is no doubt wishfull thinking by those who wish to see competetion
eliminated. But the idea that they run sugar through the bees just so they
can call it honey sounds <<caution: personal attitudes now present!>> like
nonsense. Sugar isn't so cheap that they can manufacture it, raise bees on
it, and ship it around the world profitably. Tariffs? Tariffs don't lower
anyones actual cost to produce a product. Honey produced in the USA has no
tariff on it. If any tariff at all is applied to foreign honey, it can only
raise it's cost. Finally, most US beekeepers feed their bees sugar in the
winter if needed to maintain the health of the hive. But they don't collect
any honey from bees like this. Honey can only be collected when the bees
are out bringing in lots of nectar. You can't make honey by feeding bees sugar.

  • -snip

I would be interested to hear corroboration or refutation of this
account of beekeeping in America. I didn't need much impetus, but this
news was enough to make me swear off store-bought honey for my meads
(except in small quantities and dire circumstances). After all, apiary
direct unprocessed honey has much more character.

  • -snip

I agree: support your local beekeepers. Even the guy who told you all that
hooey. He probably does have good intentions. And he fits the mold of many
beekeepers I have known: passionate about bees and honey. Like I said above,
the closer to the hive, the better the honey.

Not in my reply to Mike was the fact that I used to keep bees – not a lot
but certainly a lot of experience in doing even a little. Everyone should
do it for one season; it gives you a different outlook tending the little
critters. They mean a lot to all of us; not just to make the elixir of the
gods but to ensure a food supply in this most over populated world.

Mike, the only other thing I have to say to you is:

Brew Early and Brew Often!

Tom Messenger,
Los Osos, California, USA

Subject: Mail-order supplies
From: (Dennis B. Lewis Jr.)
Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 19:06:52 -0400

Does anyone have any favorite mail-order supply houses where
one can buy bulk honey (like 5 gal pails)? I don't subscribe
to any mead journals–should I? I subscribe to Zymurgy mostly
for the ads….but there are limited mead resources there.
The local brew shop is very limited in help and supplies.


Dennis B. Lewis <>

Homebrew. The Final Frontier.

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education" – Einstein

Subject: strawberry wine
From: Douglas Thomas <>
Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 17:37:49 -0700 (PDT)

here it is

12# strawberrys
12 oz molasses
2tsp yeast nutrient
2tsp acid blend
1tsp pectic enzyme
champagne yeast
2 gallons water
2# ddarkk brown sugar
6# light brown sugar
added to half gallon of the water, boiled and cooled,then stirred into
the must of strawberries and water
this is the begining batch, made like any
standard wine

now thisis the other part

1. 2lbs brown sugar to 2 cups water boiled cooled, and fed to wine
2. same as above
3. 2lbs. white sugar to one cup water fed
4. 2lbs. brown sugar to one cup water fed
5. 1lb white sugar to one cup water
6. 1lb brown added to racking, plus 1/2 tsp tannin

when this has stopped bubbling add 3 campden tablets and let settle for 1
week naturally. Rack again, fine with gelatin, and let sit for another
week. Finally add 1/4 – 1/2 oz american un-toasted oak chips and let age
in carboy for 2 months. When this is sufficiently clear, bottle, and
there you have it.

Doug thomas

End of Mead Lover's Digest #478

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