Does rape honey make good mead?

For those making mead and related drinks
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Jambo
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Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by Jambo » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:12 pm

Evening all

I'm wondering if rape honey makes decent mead?

The honey is bland at best, when it does have a flavour it isn't always pleasant...

I'm going to try to get my bees onto a field of it next year, so all being well I'll have some :)

Jambo
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Re: Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by Jambo » Sat Nov 25, 2017 10:32 am

For clarity - like other honey it is basically sugar so I know it will ferment very happily. I'm asking about flavour.

As we have discussed on another thread heather is strong and takes a while to mature, so maybe mixing in some rape would be beneficial?

Carnot
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Re: Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by Carnot » Sun Nov 26, 2017 9:06 pm

I am not sure if you well get any opinions on this one. For my part I am relatively new to Mead and have brewed 14 x 20+ ltr batches over the past year, of which the older batches are just now getting drinkable.

As bee farmers we have a lot of cappings which I use for my mead and this takes around 7.5 kg per batch, as honey. We do not segregate the cappings so they tend to be a mix but rape occurs early in the season. The batches in May and June that had a lot of rape were generally more cloudy and took longer to clarify. Usually 2 rackings are the norm but some batches have needed a third. Taste wise it is still early days so I really cannot comment.

As an aside I would not agree with you view that rape honey is bland. We sell it as a premium product and have many customers who prefer it over other types, to the point that they buy a "stock" as they know it is seasonal, and some place orders a year in advance. We cannot guarantee the supply as it is down to the local farmers and crop rotation practises. Some years we can produce several hundred kgs and other years one third of that. My wife eats rape honey every day, preferring it over the summer variety.

The only way you will know is to brew some and then wait, possibly a long wait. Personally I would brew a batch of rape and also a blend and then you can compare. Make sure that you get it out of the frames fast. It will crystallise in a flash.

Jambo
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Re: Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by Jambo » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:57 pm

Thanks Carnot. I was hoping for some experience as having to wait 2-4 yrs for a result makes this mead game a bit tricky!

We'll have to agree to disagree on the flavour I suppose!

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Re: Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by Carnot » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:00 pm

All I know is the look on our customers faces when we let them sample the different honey types. I cannot remember any customer calling it bland. Different yes, but not bland and definitely not unpleasant. Whether this has anything to do with the soil chemistry I do not know. The rape around where I live is on a clay soil, so the mineralogy could have an influence.

I suspect that most of the brewers on this forum are glad to get any honey let alone rape, so we might be the first in reviewing rape seed honey mead. Patience is a virtue - so far the mead I have produced has shown some very different traits in terms of fermentation and clarification. The only common denominator is that time is important for flavour development, but i guess we already knew this. I have laid mine down in corny kegs with a puff of carbon dioxide and will experiment with oak conditioning .

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Wonkydonkey
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Re: Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by Wonkydonkey » Mon Nov 27, 2017 7:59 pm

As with most honeys, it's never really just one type, it's what ever the bees wish to collect,
You can put your bees right next to a field of rape and yeah they will collect some and unless there is nothing else around for miles they will collect somthing else. And don't forget timing of the flowering and weather has a big part in what the bees get.

Years ago I used to hate it setting in the comb, I used to get a fair amount. But now I get very little although the same farm still grows about the same amount each year.
As for rape as a honey source, from what I understand there is more than one type of rape, some yeald lots of honey and others yield less.
Also remember rape is One that they coat the seed with the neonictiniodes, well they used to, I'm not sure how much is done now.

As for flavour, well some peeps like it and others prefer other honeys, "different flavour is a polite way of saying they don't like it, or bland flavour is another way of saying it does not have as much flavour as somthing else"

I can't say much more about rape honey, other than once it sets you can bend a spoon trying to get it out of the jar. It is really like concrete.
If you look at it in the Combe it starts to turn milky white even before the bees cap it, abit like ivy honey can

Anyhow, I'd blend it with some other honey or make a melomel.

But do let us know how you get on, with the amount of what you think is rape honey
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demig
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Re: Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by demig » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:18 pm

Got to say I hate the rape honey and it’s a pain to deal with but it does seem to be popular with quite a few people, the jars go quick!

Variety is the spice of life I guess, personally I love heather honey but that divides opinion as well and also has problems of its own!

I’d love to be able to make a mead from borage honey as that is absolutely superb but just not possible to get in any quantity for me as no borage around, if I planted it the girls would ignore it and head elsewhere anyway :)
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Jambo
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Re: Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by Jambo » Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:41 pm

Thanks for the responses, will see if I get some and then have a go!

When soft set rape honey can have a lovely texture which I can see selling well, maybe this outweighs the mustard aroma!

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Re: Does rape honey make good mead?

Post by Carnot » Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:26 pm

I have been doing some more research on rapeseed/ canola. For those who are beekeepers, and some who might just be interested here is some interesting information. Rape is a brassica and is from the same family as mustard. The are two type of rape. The biofuel type is high in erucic acid and is generally regarded as not suitable for human consumption. The other type is referred to as canola ( from Canada ola) which was developed in Canada and has a lower erucic acid content.

Here is a link to a very interesting scientific paper which gives an insight into the composition of the rape/canola nectar and why bees may or may not be attracted to it. It is pretty heavy reading, so be warned. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4a89/a ... b18324.pdf

Two main points.

The glucose content of rape nectar(using this generically) is richer in glucose over fructose and this leads to the rapid crystallisation in the comb ( and jar).

The presence of certain amino acids will make the nectar more or less attractive to honey bees. One amino acid, proline, is found in lower than typical levels and it is possible that bees can taste this acid, whilst a range of other amino acids are found in quite high levels, sometimes in excess of the ideal carbohydrate : amino acid ratio. The nectar composition combined with the amino acid distribution may make the nectar more or less desirbale to bees.

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