View Full Version : Honey from Comb Cappings

07-26-2011, 06:48 AM
I am a hobbyist beekeeper and long term homebrewer. I have comb cappings with sufficient honey in them to brew mead. This next batch will be the second.

With the first batch I followed Papazian's recipe after first melting the cappings in plenty of water, cooling and removing the slab of wax from the surface. This recipe called for boiling and skimming. 7 months on it is very palatable but little aroma, presumably lost during the boil method.

In Ken Schramm's Meadmaker (Compleat) he pushes the no-boil method though while honey has antibacterial properties - this isn't the nice clean honey that has settled. There are bee parts, some pollen etc.

Is it better to use capping honey with other ingredients rather than for pure mead and go with the boil method?

Is it acceptable to wash the cappings in cold water and filter through a jellybag and use without boiling?

What is the advice of the experts here?

Oh, nice site by the way.

07-26-2011, 09:42 AM
Google for Brother Adam and Buckfast Abbey. You'll see that all his meads were made from comb washings and cappings.

Of course, he's more known for bee breeding, but he was the Abbey mead maker until his death in the mid-90's.

07-26-2011, 03:37 PM
The capping honey is supposedly the very best stuff is what I've heard from many mead makers.

I think dissolving in warm water and then filtering through cheese cloth or something similar to get out the chunks is indeed probably the best way to go.

07-26-2011, 07:26 PM
Just rang my old man and asked him to save the cappings.
He leaves them overnight and strains the honey. Reckons he gets about half, and off 3 hives he wouldn't get a kg of honey, so not worth my time.
I asked him to save them nonetheless, and we will see just how much we can extract ;-)
Though God only knows when he'll next take a flow, he's been a bit busy, lately, and hasn't taken every flow he could have.

07-26-2011, 07:44 PM
Oh, nice site by the way.

Welcome to Got Mead!

Lots of the ancient recipes call for boiling. Boiling is good for getting the bee parts to rise to the surface, I suppose.

There's no rule that says you can't boil your cappings, then let the solution cool to honey-dissolving-warmth and add more honey to your heart's content...

08-23-2011, 11:08 AM
This is what I did:

Took a gross weight of everything. Used boiling water directly onto the cappings, sloshed to dissolve the honey then cold to harden the wax and poured off through a fine strainer. Then do it a few more times and leave to drain.

Then I took a new gross weight and and the net change was the amount of honey extracted. All in all proved to be quite substantial.

Then it was a case of adding nutrients, acid blend and water to bring it up to the appropriate hydrometer reading.

As the honey wasn't boiled I opted for adding a few camden tablets overnight before pitching (EC117 - I think).

A few days later it is fermenting though slowly.

08-23-2011, 12:49 PM
A few tips for you for future batches - boiling your honey is never necessary (though in certain circumstances it may be desireable for how it changes the mead, not for sterilization though, tests are being done currently!), it's an old technique that people used to think was needed, but is rarely done now. If you're worried about stuff living in there, campden is a better solution because boiling/heating the honey drives off aroma.

Also, acid blend should be added after fermentation to taste (preferably after long aging to see if it even needs it - it rarely will), adding it at the beginning is another antiquated technique that can actually stress your yest out by lowering the pH too much. I'm sure you'll be fine, but something to consider for the future.

Definitely read around this site and ask as many questions as you have - mead making has come a long way recently, and most of the recipes/techniques found on the internet/from people at brew stores is outdated, the new techniques can make massive improvements in your mead making in the future. ;D

08-26-2011, 10:42 AM
adding it at the beginning is another antiquated technique that can actually stress your yest

Could this be why fermentation appears to be very slow? Should I add something to neutralize some of the acid and pitch a new yeast? If so, what?

08-26-2011, 12:28 PM
Yes, that could be why - but before doing anything, how slow is it going? If you could post the SG from the day you started this (and how many days ago that was just so we're all super clear) and then also post as many SG readings as you've taken since then, then we can asses it better.

If you haven't measured the SG again then definitely do so, no other method is really accurate for determining how it's doing. (I had one that didn't look like it was doing anything un-normal, but the day after pitching the yeast I checked the SG and saw that it had already finished completely).