Homebrew Hack: Finding Ethical Honey

Keeping in line with all this bees-ness about honey I’ve got some tips for how to sniff out the good stuff when it comes to finding honey for your mead if you’re not a vegan.

How To Find Ethical Honey

Engaging in a conversation with the person you’re buying honey from is a great way to find the producer who is right for you. Ideally, you’re buying directly from a beekeeper. Here are four questions to ask:

  1. Do you keep all of the bees who produced this honey? Essentially: is this honey cut with other honey? If it is, you have no way of knowing whether or not that other honey meets your standards. Stick to producers who manage from hive to honey jar.
  2. What do your bees do in winter? You want to make sure that each hive is left with at least 100 pounds of the honey the bees generated so that they can get through the winter eating what they need. Commercial beekeepers take all of the honey and leave a sugar solution that is not as nutritious.
  3. Do you move your hives? Strange question but bees need the hives to remain in the same place so that they can find it. As little as a six foot move can confuse bees and leave them stranded. A good beekeeper allows the hives to remain.
  4. How do you deal with mites? The treatment is not the thing you’re wondering about. It’s making sure that the beekeeper is doing something about it, assesses their hives, and has a plan. One of the biggest problems with the rise of small hive bee farms (backyard beekeepers) is a failure to know how to handle mites, which can get out of control and cause bee death.

If you’re just a hobbyist, not brewing mead on a grand scale, local honey from local bees is the perfect way to make mead.

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