View Full Version : Small bees in my mead and airlock

King Cobra
10-15-2014, 10:50 AM

First post on this forum so I wasn't quite sure where to post it.

Has this ever happened to anyone here? I started this batch on 9/13/14 and its been fermenting in my plastic tub since then. I was looking at it last night and I noticed about 20 small bugs floating in the airlock water. At first I assumed that fruit flies had tried to sneak in or something similar, but when I looked closer I noticed that they were all small bees, with wings and stripes and everything. See attached pictures. I opened the tub for a quick peek but didnt spot any others floating around or anything else out of place.

I used honey bought from Aldi for this batch ($10 for 3 lb), a place not always known for its high quality products. I tried researching this situation online, but the closest thing I could find was a website giving advice on how to keep your queen bee from laying eggs in the honey.

My guess: Cheap Aldi honey had bee eggs in it, bees hatched sometime in the last week, bees tried escaping through airlock, bees drowned in airlock water. The airlock holes look to small even for these bees to make it through from the outside, and it seems like too much of a coincidence that my honey fermented drink ended up with small bees in it.

Most important question: Is this batch toast or can I continue fermenting it as my Special Reserve Bee Flavored Mead? From what I've seen online, bees are perfectly edible and there dont seem to be any dangerous diseases associated with bee eggs and larvae.

10-15-2014, 12:21 PM
Those are mosquitoes that are attracted by fermenting drinks as in wine.

As far as I know queen bees donīt lay eggs in honey.

10-15-2014, 01:01 PM
The way honey bees work is the queen lays an egg in the bottom of the honeycomb, and attaches it there. The egg hatches into larvae, which nurse bees feed. The larvae continue to develop until they turn into a pupae, when the nurse bees cap the honeycomb to allow metamorphosis to occur. This all happens at about 90 degrees (32 C).

When the beekeeper extracts the honey, it's theoretically possibly for an egg to get into the honey, but only if he or she doesn't screen the honey. But that's as far as it will go. Without the 90 degree temperature, the egg will probably never hatch. Without food, larvae will never develop.

All of that is in raw, unprocessed honey. Let's give Aldi's the benefit of the doubt and assume their honey's not adulterated with corn syrup. There's a good chance that your honey was ultrafiltrated (which extracts particles as small as pollen and certainly eggs) and heated (to keep it liquid).

My vote: keep fermenting!

10-15-2014, 03:59 PM
Yeah, I'd bet those critters are from the outside, seeking the yumminess.
Oh well, too bad for them.
Your brew is fine, carry on.

10-15-2014, 04:26 PM
Bees? Fruit flies I think.

Regardless, I use raw honey and it has a bunch of bee parts in it sometimes. It's fine. Awesome actually.

Relax and have a homebrew.

Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now.

10-15-2014, 05:51 PM
Good source of nitrogen! Quaff on. :)

10-15-2014, 09:16 PM
I had them in my airlocks. They never made it past the vodka.

10-15-2014, 10:35 PM
Regardless, I use raw honey and it has a bunch of bee parts in it sometimes.
The best ferment I have had so far with a traditional has been with honey I got directly from a backyard apiarist. It was just strained, not filtered and it had bits of wax, pollen and I'm sure some bee parts as well and it fermented out in a week and cleared in a couple of days.

King Cobra
10-16-2014, 09:16 PM
Bees? Fruit flies I think.

Yeah I just searched "Striped Fruit Fly" on google and the first image looks exactly like what I saw. When I saw the stripes I assumed they were bees, but apparently there are types of fruit flies that look like small bees.

I almost kind of disappointed that I don't have some kind of crazy bee-flavored mead now.

Sounds like it is safe to drink? The flies probably didnt make it through the airlock water, but if they did would it still be safe?

10-16-2014, 09:34 PM
The alcohol content should kill off anything they brought in. If it smells good, let it ride.

Chevette Girl
10-16-2014, 09:44 PM
I've even had fruit flies make it into a few batches... it's not instantly ruined but if you find any floating corpses and you're not at a nice vigorous ferment, you might want to stabilize it (or at least sulphite it) to make sure you got any of the acetobacter that commonly ends up on fruit fly feets...

If they hatch in your wild grape wine, they're pink...

10-17-2014, 01:19 PM
Lol pink fruit flies.

Sent from my galafreyan transdimensional communicator 100 years from now.

Chevette Girl
10-19-2014, 11:53 PM
I'm kind of wishing I'd taken pictures... but at the time it was a shame I wanted to forget :p

King Cobra
10-24-2014, 07:37 PM
So how do I keep fruit flies from showing up again in the future? My airlock water had turned gold, so some of my mead/must probably worked its way up there and thats probably what attracted them.
I guess I could sanitize the airlock more than usual, but I dont think that would have made much of a difference here.

10-24-2014, 08:29 PM
The alcohol and the sugar smells coming out of the airlock is what attracts the fruit flies and dead fruit flies in your airlock turn the water yellow. I get them all the time.

10-27-2014, 03:11 PM
Fruit flies are everywhere. I don't think it's possible in a normal house to not have them around. The airlock did its job, so no worries!

Chevette Girl
11-02-2014, 01:00 PM
As long as you keep your airlocks full but not overfilled you should be fine (if you overfill them there's the chance that liquid could be sucked back into the carboy if the pressure or temperature change).