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Old 02-23-2012, 04:31 AM   #1
Blackbox_Brewing
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Default Whole Hive Mead

Anyone done this? I'm doing a slight derivation on it this weekend. My beekeeper friend wouldn't let me boil all his bees, especially not his queen, so I came up with this:

20oz whole honeycomb from the beekeeper
66oz Raw Honey/Royal Jelly blend
24oz imported Scottish Heather Honey
1lb heather tips
5 600mg propolis / 1500 mg bee pollen capsules (there should be plenty more propolis and pollen from the ingredients)

Target vol: 5 gal

Plan to let it naturally ferment for a few days and see how it does. I have a big starter of White Labs Sweet Mead if needed.

I'll post pics and let everyone know how it turns out! Plan to bulk age 6mo-1yr.

Thoughts? Experience?

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Old 02-23-2012, 11:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Blackbox_Brewing View Post
Anyone done this? I'm doing a slight derivation on it this weekend. My beekeeper friend wouldn't let me boil all his bees, especially not his queen, so I came up with this:

20oz whole honeycomb from the beekeeper
66oz Raw Honey/Royal Jelly blend
24oz imported Scottish Heather Honey
1lb heather tips
5 600mg propolis / 1500 mg bee pollen capsules (there should be plenty more propolis and pollen from the ingredients)

Target vol: 5 gal

Plan to let it naturally ferment for a few days and see how it does. I have a big starter of White Labs Sweet Mead if needed.

I'll post pics and let everyone know how it turns out! Plan to bulk age 6mo-1yr.

Thoughts? Experience?
Still quite new at making mead so I've yet to hear/read anything about this so excuse me if I sound ignorant on the subject. Why would you want to add the royal jelly, propolis and pollen? Are there some sort of chemical advantages to it or just an experiment? other than that the ingredients sound good, the wax from the comb will give stuff to skim if it doesn't settle out.
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Old 02-23-2012, 01:52 PM   #3
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I admit I'm a newbee.. is there wild yeast in bee hives? I haven't heard of such a thing, so I'm doubtful that it will ferment on its own..

it does sound like an awesome experiment though!

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Old 02-23-2012, 03:37 PM   #4
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Yes, the ancient Celts used to make a mead from the whole hive. It is supposed to be superior to honey mead. Propolis, royal jelly, and pollen all contain large amounts of nutrients which are compounded through fermentation. It is said that bee venom is also an important part of the mead, imparting more flavor if the bees are "angered" before being added.

The wax is skimmed off and the wild yeasts come from the heather tips. There is a fungal growth on heather called "fogg" that contains wild yeasts and is said to impart a more intoxicating flavor.

There's a lengthy section on meads and ancient fermentation in Buhner's "Sacred & Herbal Healing Beers"

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Old 02-23-2012, 04:38 PM   #5
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Intrigued. Subscribed.

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Old 02-23-2012, 05:02 PM   #6
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Interesting, the ancient method isn't surprising and would just fall under "thats just how they used to do it" category, they didn't have the type hives used by most now, didn't have the harvesting tools we have now etc. etc.

My question now is...using the pollen "pellets" and propolis powder? (not sure what form you may have it in), processed royal jelly, packaged heather, will it have the same effect as making whole hive? I've been reading some sincew your first post. The homeopathic health potential of this type of mead is definetely there but using the processed ingredients is kind of like making an enriched whole hive clone. will the packaged heather still have the fungus on it/ just curious since there are so many rules and health standards out there are they required to wash it off some how.

I'm definetely intrigued, look forward to updates on how it goes and how the final product tastes, and compares to what we call traditional verse a mimicked version of a truly traditional method.

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Old 02-23-2012, 05:18 PM   #7
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There's obviously going to be some authenticity loss in this project, but I wanted a pretty close approximation for the fun of it. My ancestors are Scottish, so it means something to me.

The Royal Jelly is not processed. Actually, aside from the capsules, none of the ingredients are processed at all. The packaged heather tips have no impact on the authenticity of the "whole hive" element, as heather tips were added to the brew separately. I'm not sure (I actually doubt) enough fogg remains on the tips to get a ferment going, but I've read of some people having success with it. We'll see...

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Old 02-23-2012, 06:50 PM   #8
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[QUOTE="Blackbox_Brewing"]It is said that bee venom is also an important part of the mead, imparting more flavor if the bees are "angered" before being added.

This whole project sounds really interesting, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of it. I'm not a real fan of mead, but I like the thought of the experiment, especially from the standpoint of exploring your family's heritage. With that said, I have an unreasonable phobia of bees and the thought of brewing anything in the midst of "angry bees" gives me the heebie-jeebies.

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Old 02-25-2012, 04:35 PM   #9
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Irritatingly, I found out my imported heather tips have been washed to remove the fogg. However (in answer to a previous question), pure heather honey that has not been pasteurized contains fogg. Unfortunately, I doubt my mere 24oz of heather honey will contain enough fogg to ferment the entire batch.

So after some further study, here's my process:

Heat whole volume of water to 170 degrees (in this case 5 gallons because I am not going to boil)
Add 10 oz heather tips
Allow liquid to steep overnight (or for 8 hours)

Remove heather tips and bring water to 180 degrees
Add whole comb and stir until wax melts and forms on the surface, skim off wax
Let must cool to 160 or lower
Stir in Royal Jelly/Raw Honey blend and vigorously stir until dissolved (this stuff is thick! almost solid)
Stir in heather honey
Strain heated must over a sieve containing 4 oz heather tips into fermentation vessel
Ferment until bubbles slow from airlock (add White Labs mead yest if fermentation does not start)
Remove 1/2 gallon of mead and heat to 170 degrees, add remaining 2oz heather tips and steep for 15 minutes
Return heated must (including heather tips) to fermentation vessel
Ferment for 26 days or until complete

Rack & bulk store for 6 months

Bottle and store for 2 weeks - 1 year (longer is better)

I'll post some pics in a bit when I start steeping the heather!

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Old 02-25-2012, 09:24 PM   #10
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Update - decided to make a 1 liter starter with a tbsp DME, 1/4 tsp Fermaid K, and 3 tbsp heather honey to try & ramp the fogg up a little...

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