Mead Lover's Digest #0479 Sun 19 May 1996


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



Sulphite ("Tom Lentz")
re: honey, etc. (Michael L. Hall)
Re: Sources of honey, Chinese Honey, etc ("Patrick M. O'Hearn")
Honey in Alberta? (Todd Tuffs)
Cyser clearing (Frank J. Kovac)


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Subject: Sulphite
From: "Tom Lentz" <>
Date: Tue, 14 May 96 10:23:22

Hello. I've been lurking here for several months now, but this is my
first post to the newsletter. I've been making mead for about 4 years
now, completely self-taught, and it's getting quite popular with my

I've got some quesitons regarding the addition of sulphite, or Campden
Tablets, to mead. I know some people who are sensitive to sulphite
(headaches) and I don't want to put too much in. How much is too
much? For comparison, how much sulphite (approx. # of Campden tabs)
is in an off-the-shelf bottle of wine? I try to use as little as
possible, and don't think I put in very much at all, but I want to be
sure. Guess I'm too paranoid to use none at all.

Also, the tablets are sometimes hard to get to dissolve. Can I add
them during the boil of the must? How about adding nutrient or acid
during this stage also? I usually wait until it's cooled.



Subject: re: honey, etc.
From: (Michael L. Hall)
Date: Tue, 14 May 96 12:32:32 MDT

[What follows is my response to Tom Messenger's comments on honey
adulteration. Please keep in mind that all the information I have
is second-hand (and therefore unconfirmed). I welcome all discussion
(e.g. Rich Webb's comments in today's MLD) and am anxious to hear
from a bona fide beekeeper. I think that we meadmakers could potentially
benefit by more knowledge about honey production and the bees


Thanks for responding. I agree with a lot of what you said, but I've got
a couple of comments:

  • Your explanation of why big company honey is inferior (heavy

filtration, heat pasteurization, dilution) makes sense.

  • My example of trucking bees around is actually pretty hazy — the

meading was last November and I was drinking mead at the time :-).
However, I do distinctly remember that this beekeeper used to do
that kind of work and quit because he thought it was bad for the
bees. He also mentioned that this was the major method of
pollinating the food crops.

  • It still seems to me that sugar is cheaper than honey, so one could

possibly increase the worth of their product by shooting it through
a bee. As far as tariffs go, I think this beekeeper was in favor of
higher protective tariffs, to even out the perceived inequities
related to production standards.

  • You say you can't make honey by feeding bees sugar. I'm not

completely convinced. I wonder if there are any beekeepers on the
list who have more info.

  • And I of course agree with the bottom line: buy local for character!

> P.S. Now that I've written this, I think I'll send it along to the digest
> also just to see what sort of flames it will fire up!

Good, I was going to suggest that. This kind of message definitely has
broader interest on the MLD than just me. I'll post the above replies
after your post comes out, so I don't confuse anyone. Please let me know
when you've posted to the MLD.

After writing the above, I went hunting on the net for more info on
beekeeping and honey. The info was fairly sparse, but I did get this
response from a listserver (send email to: with

  • —– Begin Included Message —–

>From Fri May 10 20:56:32 1996
Subject: Auto response
Organization: WILD BEE'S BBS (209) 826-8107 LOS BANOS, CA



Florida law defines honey as only the natural food product made by

honeybees from the nectar or flowers or saccharine exudation of plants,
containing no additives. The law also requires all products labelled "honey"
to be pure honey as defined above. Adulteration, or addtion of foreign
substances to honey has long been a problem. In general, however, most
adulterants are relatively easy to test for.

Advent of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), however, provided adulterers

with an almost perfect replica of honey with which to adulterate. It has
become extremely profitable to do so, because the possibility exists to mix 80
to 90% HFCS in honey without being detected by the consumer.

A self-policing program has been in effect since the mid 1970s by the

beekeeping industry and several persons have been found guilty and sentenced
for adulteration. The success of the program is based on two factors: (1)
that the beekeeper understand that feeding bees either sugar syrup or HFCS can
lead to adulteration; (2) that the beekeeper become the eyes of the program and
send suspcious samples of honey to the Secretary, American Beekeeping
Federation, 13637 N. W. 39th Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601.

Adulterated honey might be suspected for one of several reasons


1. No flavor, just sweetness
2. Very light or very dark in color
3. Molasses flavor
4. Consistently low in price


  • —– End Included Message —–

So it sounds like it's possible to get "fake" honey by feeding sugar to
bees. Maybe someone with more experience in beekeeping will comment.

  • -Mike

Subject: Re: Sources of honey, Chinese Honey, etc
From: "Patrick M. O'Hearn" <>
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 12:35:37 -0600

Dennis B. Lewis Jr. wrote:
> Does anyone have any favorite mail-order supply houses where
> one can buy bulk honey (like 5 gal pails)?

Hello All,
In almost every part of the country you should be able to
find a local beekeeper to purchase bulk honey from. Honey
weighs 12 lb per gallon and freight on 60lb (5 gal) bulk
shipments would add a bit to your price. Besides, you
should make it a habit to support your local beekeeper <g>.
Call your county extension agent or your animal control
officer (many beekeepers leave their names and numbers with
both places to be notified when swarms are found). Depending
on your state, the beekeeper may register with the state
department of agriculture. Many beekeepers are not listed in
the yellow pages so dont assume that there are no beekeepers
in your area because there are no telephone book listings.

As to the other posts about Chinese Honey, the problem was
primarily "dumping" of honey (selling below cost of
production) rather than feeding sugar. I agree with several
of the posters that FEEDING sugar would be a fairly poor way
to adulterate honey but, an easy way to adulterate honey is
to mix honey with high fructose or other types of sugars.
This adulteration does occur and is profitable. There was a
packer in the United States that was aquitted of charges of
doing just this last year and the charge surfaces too often
not to be true in some cases. With the sharp increase in the
price of honey lately, and the sharply reduced production due
to hive deaths from mites I am afraid we will see a lot more
of this type of adulteration in the future.

Beekeepers do feed sugar water in the spring, or when
building up a swarm but any beekeeper worth of the name
discontinues any sugar feeding prior to placing honey supers
(the boxes the bees use to store the honey we extract and
sell to you) on the hive so this sugar water doesnt make it
into anything other than the stores the bees will keep for

BTW, thanks to all who responded to my queries about cyser
clearing. The consensus was that cyser will clear at least
as well as traditional mead. My batch is in its third month,
acting about like mead at this point in time, and beginning
to clear slowly.

take care
Patrick M. O'Hearn
Bears Choice Honey

Subject: Honey in Alberta?
From: (Todd Tuffs)
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 19:49:19 -0600 (MDT)

I live in southern Alberta (near Calgary), and am looking for a good place
to buy honey (non-generic IE Beekist). Also, I am looking for some clues as
to where to get "Sparkloid" around here. (I read about it in Mead Lovers #

Paula Tuffs
Okotoks, Alberta, Canada

Subject: Cyser clearing
From: gr105@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Frank J. Kovac)
Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 08:42:40 -0400

Generally, I've had no problems with either filtered or
unfiltered apple juice. I allow a year to clear but
sometimes will use Sparkalloid if my thirst demands it.

I found no benefit in using unfiltered apple juice.
Apparently the goodies are not filtered out.
It does triple the dregs.
I prefer late season juice. The early juice is mostly
red delicious and not as interesting as the the later
tarter rogues which are apt to produce a faint pineapple
nose. Of course I use no chemicals.

Cheers are cheerier with cyser….

End of Mead Lover's Digest #479

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