Mead Lover's Digest #0480 Fri 24 May 1996


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



Sulphite (Bruce Conner)
adulteration/pollination (Daniel S. McConnell)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #479, 19 May 1996 (Doug Henry)
Re: sugar/honey ("Tracy Aquilla")
NHC wooden stuff (Daniel S. McConnell)
Truth in Honey (David Brattstrom)
1996 MCM (finally!) (Daniel S. McConnell)
Does it ever stop fermenting?! (Brent Leech)
Re: Mead Lover's Digest #479, 19 May 1996 (Geoffrey Hunter)
RE: Sulphite (Rebecca Sobol)


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Subject: Sulphite
From: (Bruce Conner)
Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 08:39:07 -0400

Tom Lentz wrote:

>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.

For those of us sensitive to sulphites, ANY is too much! There is no need
to use sulphite for mead, I never use it and my mead is just fine. The
only thing to be sure of is good sanitation of equipment, proper
pasturization of the honey (you can boil the must for a few minutes if you
are really paranoid) and always pre-boil all your water for 15 minutes. I
use iodiphor for sanitation with no rinsing, just shake off the excess.
The remaining iodine seems to bind up with some of the organic matter
and/or is driven off by the fermentation gas.

I add the nutrient, etc during the pasturization, BTW.

Bruce Conner

Subject: adulteration/pollination
From: (Daniel S. McConnell)
Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 21:06:01 -0500

Mike Hall writes (quoting and then commenting):

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


>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.

Keep in mind that the adulteration described above is a DILUTION of honey
with sugar syrup. It is different from the adulteration by feeding sugar
to bees. Both are defined, but where one seems sneaky, the other seems

With regard to pollinators moving bees to pollinate crops:
I have recently been reading the bible of beekeeping "The Hive and the
Honeybee" This is >1300 pages of beekeeping, bee anatomy, history, raising
queens, bee dances, honey production and honey. Really a nice investment
for those interested in honey and a must-have for beekeeping. Nowhere in
this text does it mention detrimental effects to bees as a consequence of
pollinators moving them to pollinate crops. Actually it mentions that
"moving colonies between locations can be a part of good bee managment".

Not only is moving bees the most common method of pollinating food crops,
but it is the most common method of providing you and I with those varietal
honeys we love and pay so dearly for.


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #479, 19 May 1996
From: Doug Henry <>
Date: Sun, 19 May 1996 23:22:07 -0500 (CDT)

This is only my second post to the MLD. I asked for some help in making
mead last year with what I thought would be honey dregs filled with dead
bees and other debris. As it turned out I ended up with quality honey but
very little for mead as the demand was so high I sold almost all of it
except for a few lbs that i kept for personal use. I had enough for 3
separate one gal batches of mead. At this time I'm not sure how it has
turned out but will sample it soon. I can say it is very clear.

Bee keeping here in Manitoba requires special care to keep bees alive through
the winter. Most commercial honey is derived from canola, flax and
alfalfa. The honey from these plants will crystalize in our -40 degrees
celius temperatures during the winter. Therefore starting at the end of
august all frames with honey are removed from the hives and the bees fed
a mixture of sugar and water or corn syrup. The honey the bees make from
these sources does not crystalize and the bees cannot consume it during the
winter in the hive and will starve to death. The hives are arranged in
groups of four, two
supers high and wrapped with insulation with water proof outer covering.
A large insulating cover is placed on top and then covered with a water
tight barrier. Opening for ventilation and bee exit are placed near the
top. I only have four hives and two expired during the winter which was
one of the coldest on record. In any case bees are certainly fed sugar
but only to enable them to survive the winter. Certainly not for the
purpose of making honey for sale. At least not here in Manitoba. Because
of the mite problem in the states we import bees from New Zealand,
Australia, Hawaii and Italy, perhaps other places too. I think I rambled
on a bit here, but I must say I enjoy all the postings and look forard to
each one. Cheers from Lockport, Manitoba, Doug Henry.

Subject: Re: sugar/honey
From: "Tracy Aquilla" <>
Date: Mon, 20 May 96 09:05:57 CDT

In Digest #479: (Michael L. Hall) wrote:
>- 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.

One can't really make honey by feeding sugar to bees. 'Honey' made from
sugar-water tends to be rather thin, runny, and flavorless.

>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

While some beekeepers do feed sugar-water, many prefer feeding honey. Even
though it costs more, the bees like it much better. Many good beekeepers
care more about the bees than the bottom-line.
Tracy (brewer, entomologist, and former California beekeeper)

Subject: NHC wooden stuff
From: (Daniel S. McConnell)
Date: Mon, 20 May 1996 13:20:09 -0500

Hi all:

I posted the following to the HBD, but thought that I would crosspost it
here as well
'cause this is one of the places that the cool people dwell….

I am interested in semi-organizing an acoustic jam session at the National
Conference in New Orleans. This will be dependent on me finding a place to
play-say an unused conference room, lobby, alley, hallway or pool side.

Therefore I invite all that are planning or can plan to bring their
instruments to the conference to get in touch with me and see what we can
come up with. I think we should limit it to acoustic instruments (that
includes horns, woods, percussion, reeds, a digeridoo or two) for the sake
of sanity (besides, I don't want to haul a bass amp down). If there is
enough interest, we can discuss (offlist) songlists, alternate tunings and
keys. My interests lie from the bluesy side of folk to melodic left-field
jazz (Dixon to Mingus), but anything goes…..weird is encouraged….


Subject: Truth in Honey
From: (David Brattstrom)
Date: Mon, 20 May 1996 21:36:09 -0800

Howdy Ho collective
Re: Chinese Honey

1. There was an anti dumping suit which was won by the ABF, American
Beekeeping Federation, which will limit the amount of honey China can
import each year.

2. There is a concern about the processing of Chinese honey. I have talked
with a few fellow beekeepers who while visiting China noticed that several
beekeepers stored their honey in questionable containers.

Beekeepers in the US are under strict guidelines about what and when they

medicate their bees. They can not have honey supers on while medication is
given. Only a few medication are approved by the US government. In foreign
countries they are more relaxed on chemical use. The potential for
contamination is great!

3. Because honey is imported by large importers, the paper work since the
anti-dumping suit in incredible, it excludes the small beekeeper from
exporting their honey. These lager importers are blending all sorts of
honey. Reports from beekeepers who have visited China they report there are
some great honey varieties there.

The major adulteration of honey is done by honey packers. They are blending
in (HFCS) high fructose corn syrup at 30 cents a pound vs honey at 60cent

  • -1 dollar a pound! This adulterated honey can have up to 75% HFCS added and

you can not tell the difference. Only an expensive process, developed and
done in France, can detect the adulteration of honey with HFCS. You can not
tell "Good Adulterated honey" by it flavor, sweetness, or color!

Adding Sugar to bees.

Yes beekeepers do add sugar to their hives at times. The amount they add

is small, 3 lbs per hive compared to the 100-200 lbs of honey they will
extract. The sugar they add is also added when the hive is low on honey and
the bees eat most if not all of the sugar added. Just a note to fellow
beekeeper. You will get a more productive hive by adding needed sugar just
before the winter. You need a health hive going into the winter to produce
a great spring hive.

There was a packer in the United States that was acquitted of charges of
adulterating honey last year. The reason, the federal government has no
legal definition of honey! So the packer was let off because he could add
sugar to his honey and still call it honey. As beekeepers and consumers
sell and buy honey they expect honey to be 100 percent pure honey. If you
think that you know of any honey that has been altered please contact the

Honey prices!
Expect to pay more for your honey this year. The price is at an all time
high. That's good news to use beekeepers, bad new to meadmakers.

David Brattstrom
Plymouth Calif. U.S.A.
Trent Apiaries

Subject: 1996 MCM (finally!)
From: (Daniel S. McConnell)
Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 11:22:30 -0500


Welcome to the 5th Annual Mazer Cup Mead Competition, the oldest
Mead-only competition in North America. Proud sponsor of the 1996
National Homebrew Competition Mead Category.


This is an AHA sanctioned event. All Makers of Mead are eligible,
both amateur and professional. You may enter as many categories and
subcategories as you like.

(1) Each entry will consist of TWO (2) BOTTLES of at least 177 mL (6 oz),

but not more than 750 mL (25 oz), preferably 12 oz. Both corked and
capped entries are acceptable. Black out identifying marks on bottles
or caps. Small bottles are encouraged.

(2) A completed RECIPE FORM, filled in with as much detail as possible,

must accompany each entry. Please pay particular attention to the
variety of honey used. Judges will be provided with the type of honey,
fruits and/or spices used.

(3) A complete ENTRY FORM should be attached by rubber band to each


(4) All ENTRY FEES must accompany entries when received.
(5) Mark shipping package THIS END UP.
(6) Pack those bottles well! A broken bottle is a very sad sight.
(7) We will accept entries at the National Homebrew Conference in New

Orleans, June 5-7, 1996. These will be hand carried back to Michigan.
Contact Dan or Ken for details.

(1) Entry fee is $6.00 per entry. All North American entries will be

accepted between June 5-21st 1996. International entries will
be received anytime before June 21st.

(2) First round judging will be held during the weekend of June 29, 1996.
(3) Best of Show judging will be held on June 30th 1996.
(4) Make checks Payable to: Ken Schramm, Mazer Cup Mead Competition.
(5) Entries can be dropped off or shipped to the following location:

c/o Dan McConnell, Registrar
1308 W. Madison
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

The beautiful mazers are hand-thrown at the prestigious Pewabic Pottery.
(1) The AHA/HWBTA 50-point rating scale will be used, with 25 points

required for award eligibility.

(2) The Meadmaker of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in each category will

receive a Ribbon and a hand-crafted Mazer.

(3) The BEST OF SHOW will receive a Best of Show Ribbon, the coveted,

hand-crafted Communal Mazer, and 40 lbs of either Orange Blossom
or Sierra Mesquite/Catclaw Honey (your choice) donated by American


Ken Schramm, Competition Director 810-816-1592
Dan McConnell, Competition Registrar 313-663-4845
<> FAX 313-761-5914
Hal Buttermore, Judge Director 313-665-1236

(1) e-mail to Ken Schramm <> will get you a

snail-mail, postable copy of this flyer (in color!) and entry forms.

(2) User printed forms are acceptable and encouraged.
(3) Qualified Mead Judges are invited to judge this event. Contact Dan

McConnell via e-mail or Hal Buttermore by telephone.

(4) Online entry is available see:

(1) All meads will be judged in the category entered and no categories

will be combined.

(2) Judges reserve the right to withhold awarding of the 1st, 2nd or 3rd

place, if deemed necessary. All judges decisions will be final.

(3) Every effort will be made to use judges who are active in the BJCP

Judge Certification Program. Judges from other judge certification
programs and wine judges will be welcomed as well.

(4) Winners will be announced by mail after June 30th. The Best of Show

winner will be notified by phone on June 30th, 1996.

(5) All score sheets will be returned.
(6) Any entry not meeting the above requirements may be disqualified.

All reasonable attempts will be made to contact the Meadmaker and
reconcile the problem.

Meads are produced by the fermentation of honey, water, yeast and optional
ingredients such as fruit, herbs and spices. Their initial and final gravity
determines whether they are: HYDROMEL, A light, low gravity version of any
of the categories; DRY, FG 0.996-1.009; MEDIUM, FG 1.010-1.019; or
SWEET, FG 1.020 or higher. Mead, Wine, or beer yeasts may all be used.

1. SHOW: Mead consisting of Honey, Water and Yeast ONLY. No spices,

fruit or other flavoring additives permitted. Addition of water
treatments and acidification is permitted.

2. TRADITIONAL: Mead consisting of Honey, Water and Yeast. Other

flavoring additives are permitted in small amounts for complexity, but
the primary flavor and aroma should be honey. Overpowering and readily
identifiable additive flavor and/or aroma will be considered a flaw.

3. MELOMEL: Honey and Fruit or Fruit Juice, other than Grapes or Apples.
4. CYSER: Honey and Apples, Cider or Apple juice.
5. PYMENT: Honey and Grapes or Grape juice.
6. OPEN/MIXED: Any combination of categories not otherwise specified.

Example: A spiced Melomel or Pyment may be entered as mixed if the
spice is evident.

7. METHEGLIN: Honey and Herbs and/or Spices.
8. BRAGGOT (BRACKET): Mead consisting of Honey and Malted Barley (Honey

and Malt character should both be evident).

a) Sparkling-Effervescent. Flavors should be expressed in aroma and

flavor. Color should represent ingredients. Light to medium body. Dry,
medium or sweet. Honey character still apparent in aroma and flavor.
Absence of harsh and stale character.

b) Still-Not effervescent. Flavors should be expressed in aroma and

flavor. Color should represent ingredients. Light to full body. Dry,
medium, sweet or very sweet. Honey character still apparent in aroma and
flavor. Absence of harsh and stale character.

We would like to thank the following SPONSORS:

Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, Ann Arbor, MI
American Mead Association, Boulder, CO
American Meadmaker, Grand Junction, CO
G.W. Kent, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI
Yeast Culture Kit Company, Ann Arbor, MI

Registration forms: Print then off and send them in!

  • ———————————CUT HERE———————————


Name of competitor ___________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________________

City ___________________________State____________Zip__________

Country ______________________Telephone_______________________

Name of Mead _________________________________________________

Category ____1____2____3____4____5____6____7____8 Subcat a___b___


  • ———————————CUT HERE———————————


Name of competitor ___________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________________

City ___________________________State____________Zip__________

Country ______________________Telephone_______________________

Name of Mead _________________________________________________

Category ____1____2____3____4____5____6____7____8 Subcat a___b___


  • ———————————CUT HERE———————————



Name _________________________________Phone______________________

Additional Meadmakers____________________________________________

Address _________________________________________________________

City ___________________________State/Province___________________

Zip/postal code___________________Country _______________________

Club affiliation ________________________________________________

How long have you been brewing__________(years)

email address__________________________________


Name of Mead ____________________________________________________

Category ____1____2____3____4____5____6____7____8 Subcat a___b___


Type and ammount of Honey _______________________________________


Gallons made for this batch______________________________________

Was the Must: Heated Sulfited Other

List the distinctive ingredients and the amount used (this
information will be provided to the judges):





Type and amount of water treatment used: ________________________

Type, brand and amount of yeast used: ___________________________

Type, brand and amount of yeast Nutrients: ______________________

Circle one: liquid culture dry

Carbonation method used: ________________________________________

Specific gravity: Original ____________ Terminal _______________

Fermentation Duration temperature type of fermenter

Primary ____________ _____________ glass, plastic, SS

Secondary ____________ _____________ glass, plastic, SS

Other ____________ _____________ glass, plastic, SS

Date this brew was bottled ______________________________________

Other important information______________________________________






Subject: Does it ever stop fermenting?!
From: Brent Leech <102722.1342@CompuServe.COM>
Date: 22 May 96 13:34:37 EDT

I am a first time mead maker, and I have a question. I put about 15 lbs of
honey, a gallon of grape juice, and some yeast in a fermenter (after going
through boiling and all) in February. It fermented nicely, and I racked a few
times. My question is why hasn't it stopped fermenting? I still see bubbles in
the airlock. I don't want to bottle because of my fear of glass grenades. Any
suggestions? Thanks in advance.


Subject: Re: Mead Lover's Digest #479, 19 May 1996
From: Geoffrey Hunter <FS300022@Sol.YorkU.CA>
Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 17:49:32 -0500 (EST)

Two Comments – as a Mead Maker and a Beekeeper:

1. I've been making mead for about 10 years. I follwoed the "standard"
procedure of sterilising the must with the recommended amount of sulphite
just once – about 4 years ago. After a couple of days I added the yeast
but no fermentation took place, my inference being that the sulphite
killed the yeast. So I resumed my previous practice of never using sulphite.

I wash out the fermentation vessels with hot water before adding

the must, and similarly wash bottles before bottling. But I never use
sulphite. The only batch to "go wrong" (no fermentation) was the one I
added sulphite to, and I have never had a batch go vinegary. So if you
don't need it, why use it ?

2. Beekeepers feed cane-sugar syrup to bees to supplement the nectar that
the bees gather from flowers. Typically this is done once a year in
October (1-2 gallons of 50% syrup) to ensure that the bees have enough
stored honey to see them through the winter. The beekeeper may also
feed again in the early spring (March/April in Ontario) if he suspects
that the winter stores are running low. Spring was very late this year:
I fed my bees twice – in mid-April and early May. I put honey boxes
on in mid-June and harvest in August/September – so the honey that I
harvest is entirely from nectar gathered by the bees from flowers.

A beekeeper who wants to keep his honey customers will never

feed sugar-syrup for the bees to make honey. Such "honey" is colorless,
and tasteless (apart from being sweet). It is the flavanoids and other
minor (<10%) natural ingredients in honey (from flowers) that give it
its many delightful flavors.

By the same token, if you want to make excellent mead, you will

never supplement the honey with sugar; if you do, you'll end up with
an insipid mead that nobody would want to drink.

I sometimes hear people with a suspicious and narrowly economic

disposition, voice suspicions that beekeepers use sugar to make honey.
Beekeepers are typically down to earth types who value the intrinsic
nutritional and gastronomic virtues of honey. They are proud of their
product and will never adulterate it with tasteless sugar.

Dr. Geoffrey Hunter, Toronto, Canada.

Subject: RE: Sulphite
From: sobol@ofps.ucar.EDU (Rebecca Sobol)
Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 10:59:49 -0600 (MDT)

In MLD #479 "Tom Lentz" <> asks:

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.



As one of those people who is sensitive to sulphite, I say any is too much.
Wine gives me splitting headaches. I won't drink it anymore. I won't
eat sulphited dried fruit either. We have never used any sulphite in our
meads, and so far have never had any problems. We are pretty careful about
sanitation. So if you really want to share your mead with people who are
sensitive, I'd say leave it out entirely. Even in small amounts it gives me
terrible headaches. Just MHO.

We have added both acid and nutrient during the cooking (we don't boil, just
heat to pasturize), but in more recent batches we have been adding nutrient
after it's cooled, when we pitch the yeast. I'm not sure it it makes any

Rebecca Sobol * * Boulder, Colorado

End of Mead Lover's Digest #480

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