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Old 11-08-2013, 10:00 PM   #1
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Default Half Hive Mead

After this last harvest over Labor Day I was left with 15 lbs. of a comb, cappings, propolis, some brood, pollen, a few dead bees, random bits of honey and of course varroa mites all mixed together in a bucket. With every intention of just throwing this sticky mess in the trash I put it in a corner and forgot about it. That is until a few weeks ago when I learned of whole hive mead, now as a beekeeper I am appalled that someone would kill a hive for drink, "killing the goose that lays the golden egg". This is when I remembered the bucket. It is basically a hive minus 60,000 bees why not feed it to yeasties.
So off I went this morning with very little mead experience under my belt. I figured add some water melt the wax skim off the wax put that aside, then I could weigh the bucket then subtract the wax skimmed off and get a rough idea of how much honey was really left in the must. So with 4 lbs of wax left 11 lbs in the kettle which is now a waxy mess, I heated to 160 and maintained for 15 mins. Cooled to 78 and took a reading of 1.180! Holy cow so added water to get it down to reasonable 1.130. Pitched pasteur champagne in a final volume of 3 gal.



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Old 11-09-2013, 06:13 AM   #2
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As good a use as any......

You're gonna need some nutrients etc sooner rather than later......

Fermaidk or similar at best or a tablespoon or two of boiled bread yeast (actually just simmer it for 3 or 4 minutes, let it cool then add it in).

At the moment its in the realms of show mead -which can be a PITA as the obsessive purist approach can lead to long, slow fermenting......

The pasteur champoo yeast is likely tolerant to the 18% area and its feasible this could get there (there's enough sugars), though less likely without some guiding the ferment.

It would probably have been better to mix the honey/wax/etc into cooler water and broken it all up, stirred the hell out of it, then strained it to remove the wax and other debris......

I'm not a fan of heating honey as it seems to remove too much of the volatile aromatics (as does champagne yeast) so when I can, I just add some water and mix it to the target volume then measure it.....



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Old 11-09-2013, 10:27 AM   #3
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Hi ColdToes, as a new beekeeper we have done something very similar but without heating, though in your situation having it all set around with bee parts and larva there is a possibility something could have grown in there. We took some fresh whole combs with honey, pollen, drone larva and various other bee parts and propolis from dark brood combs and crushed it, added a little lukewarm water and crushed it all with our hands, Dropped in some yeast and nutrients and let it rip in April, to much junk in there to measure the gravity, also got lazy and didnt want to strain any out just to find out. I left all the stuff in there during the primary and then strained out the wax and bug parts going into secondary. It cleared quickly and is a beautiful dark golden color. I only got a gallon out of it, trying to find the smallest bottles we can to stretch this batch out until we can make some more, might just have to keep our top bar hives around just to make this or put some foundationless in our broodbox so we can recycle it out and get it filled with honey. Its silky smooth, I think a lot of nutrients come out of those larva and everything in the brood combs. What kind of honey do you guys get, are you up in the mountains? WVMJ

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Old 11-09-2013, 01:50 PM   #4
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Fermentation is well under way through the translucent bucket I can see 3/4 inch layer of sediment already, I imagine that will be rather thick in no time. As suggested I added 3 tsp. of nutrient to help the little critters on there long voyage. Patience will be needed, but that's ok I have plenty of good beer and cider to see me through! I do however regret heating as there was noticeable changes in the aromatics around 150 deg. From strong floral and butter to more carmel, but as this was more wax than honey I thought this might be best. Notes will read heat only enough to melt wax <150 deg. The honey used in this came from crush and strain extraction from 2 hives one a langsroth the other a modified warre both are very strong hives of Italians, the warre is a 2nd year package and the lang is from a swarm capture. The first harvest in June was a blond honey most likely dandelion and only about 20 lbs. The second harvest was orangish amber and 80 lbs. of wild flower or unknown source, difficult to pinpoint in a mix of open space and suburbs.

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Old 11-10-2013, 09:32 AM   #5
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YOu dont have to melt the honey at all, break it up in some lukewarm water and just let it float around, what is it going to hurt besides let the propolis and pollen dissolve out of it. Is your Warre hive living up to the hype about being all natural and so the bees can take care of themselves and be mite free etc etc.? WVMJ

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Old 11-10-2013, 02:43 PM   #6
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If I try this again which won't be till June at the earliest, melting the wax will not happen what a mess. The small kettle has a nice coat of wax. Secondly I would try a different yeast any suggestions welcome. The warre is the strongest of my hives mostly due to the queen I believe, she is a great layer, good pattern and her hives is as gentle as can be. This summer was insanely hot and the mites exploded, but lower counts in the warre, still had to treat. Winter ventilation or lack of and subsequent condensation is the main purpose so I'll see this winter. As far as anding empty boxes to the bottom sounds great till your sweating through your bee suit lifting 80+ lb boxes I got lazy and just put them on top.

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Old 11-10-2013, 04:15 PM   #7
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My first recipe reads as such

15 lbs. crush and strain by-product
1.5 gal. Water @ 160 deg.
1 pkt. Pasteur Champagne yeast
Fermax = final volume

Soften in warm water bath, add to kettle with 160 deg. Water stir till completely melted, hold @ 160 deg. For 15 min. Cool to 78 deg. While skimming wax. Take reading add water to adjust to target of 1.130, oxygenate pitch yeast.

Ferment @ 66-68 for 21 days, rack to till clear, bulk age

So we'll see how this works. The wax skimmed off weighed 4 lbs. and was almost entirely yellow wax and a little pollen everything else is in the primary.

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Old 11-10-2013, 10:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbloke View Post
You're gonna need some nutrients etc sooner rather than later......

Fermaidk or similar at best or a tablespoon or two of boiled bread yeast (actually just simmer it for 3 or 4 minutes, let it cool then add it in).
All the nitrogen and b vitamins the yeast need are found in generous amounts in the pollen, propolis, etc, no commercial nutrient necessary... it's one of the benefits of this practice.

I've been making "whole hive" meads for a while now, and all my meads use store-bought bee pollen, propolis and sometimes royal jelly as the only nutrient addition. I frequently get completely dry (< 1.000) results with no further treatment.
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Old 11-11-2013, 02:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by damdaman View Post
All the nitrogen and b vitamins the yeast need are found in generous amounts in the pollen, propolis, etc, no commercial nutrient necessary... it's one of the benefits of this practice.

I've been making "whole hive" meads for a while now, and all my meads use store-bought bee pollen, propolis and sometimes royal jelly as the only nutrient addition. I frequently get completely dry (< 1.000) results with no further treatment.
Fine. If it works for you thats great.

Personally, I'm not hooked into "natural, must be best" approach. Cyanide is natural but youre not gonna consume that by the teaspoon are you......

Some of the nutition may indeed be available via pollen, propylis etc, but not all of it...... plus while you may have used your own nice, varietal honey, you've no way of guaranteeing that the pollen etc won't introduce strange off flavours concentrated by the fermenting.

Natural is fine, but this process is, IMO, about control to attain a desired result.

So if it works for you..........etc etc
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Old 11-11-2013, 11:28 PM   #10
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Bloke, the little bit of larva and the feces from the pupae are also included in a real whole hive mead giving a bit of extra nutrients I put nutrients in mine even though I know its pretty loaded with nitrogen, wont ever have a stuck ferment at our house. The batch we made early this year from even black comb is so smooth its crazy, not sure if the whole hive ingredients add more to it or not, or maybe they bind bitter agents or the yeast just love it, but it can really work well. We plan on taking better care of our trimmed comb this next season and saving them up for a special batch. Hope you guys get your house in order soon so you can get to blogging more about works in progress! WVMJ



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