Mead is made by fermenting honey, probably the oldest alcoholic drink known. When bees make and store honey for the winter they don’t want it to ferment, they evaporate the water until there’s no more than about 17% or 18% water left. This is to ensure the honey keeps, which it usually does. Edible honey several thousand years old has been discovered in tombs. In my experience the bees know what they’re doing and seem never to get it wrong.

I made some mead many years ago, it was delicious! It wasn’t the easiest wine to ferment, probably because of the anti-microbial properties of honey and the low acidity, but it was certainly well worth the effort.

I was removing a colony from a sprinkler box at the end of October. When I opened the lid the combs were broken exposing the honey in some capped cells which appeared to be fermenting.

Was this really fermenting or are the bubbles caused by something else? Usually bees don’t cap honey unless it’s been ripened and therefore shouldn’t ferment, they very rarely get it wrong. I wish I had the presence of mind to test the water content with my refractometer.

Honeycomb in which the honey appears to be fermenting.

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