Widely known is the fact that pollinators are a critical component of ecosystems the world over. Moreover, they are the lynchpins of all ecological communities (before you decry the usage of the word ‘all,’ read this article on zoobenthophilous pollination by underwater invertebrate). Chief among dry land pollinators is the Bee.
If there are eight (8) great pollinators responsible for transferring grains of reproductive pollen to and from male and female flowers, then seven (7) of them (Bats, Beetles, Butterflies, Flies, Hummingbirds, Moths, and Wasps) send the Honey Bee annual gift baskets for their prowess. Adoration from your peers is one thing. When your likeness is being scratched into cliff sides by the most prolific apex predator on the planet, that’s when you know you’ve made your mark.
Egyptians, Africans, Celts, Monks, and Civilians of Medieval Europe and Asia all shared a common affinity for being keepers of the bees. What, pray tell, did those folks of climates inhospitable to the growing and fermenting of grapes, do with their bounty. Why, they made Mead - the quintessential nectar of the gods - of course.
Metheglin, a type of alcoholic elixir, is commonly known as Mead, And Mead is as simple to make as it is delightful to partake in. You start by fermenting honey (sometimes using yeast as a catalyst), then add water and/or a variety of herbs and spices. The Greeks, Chinese, Romans, Scandinavians, and others, drank Mead by the barrels. Hence their predisposition for finding better and more efficient ways of keeping and cataloging bee hives to better extract their golden and intoxicating nectars. But all good things must come to an end, and the ingenuities spurred by Mead barrons died out with the advent of agriculture.
With agriculture civilizations arose the world over. It wasn’t until the internal combustion engine brought tillage and swept vast areas of landscape that habitats changed dramatically. Ecological disturbances and monocultures at scale never before relinquished on our little blue marble until the industrial revolution. Wildflowers provide pollen - food and nectar, in turn, Bees cross-pollinate trees, vegetables, fruits, berries, cherries, apples, cranberries, and more.
Much has been written on and documented about the importance and disappearance of Bee populations. By now it’s registered where this article is headed. There has been, as of late, a three-part resurgence of interest in micro and macro ecologies: 1.) Farmers experimenting with and having successful harvests with ‘no-till’ methods (keeping the microbes and earthworms in tact); and using less or no pesticides and fertilizers (keeping the run-offs to a minimum). 2.) For different and sometimes similar reasons there has been huge interest in micro-breweries, winelands, and field to distillery thirst quenching. 3.) Bee keepers are already increasing in numbers, if for no other reason than local allergy remedies, natural sugar resources, and an overall ‘back to basics’ mindset. Why not Mead then?
Why not Mead! Mead is wine-ish (insofar as it can serve as an alternative to, or sweetener of). Mead is field to distillery. Mead is micro-brew. Mead is low-impact, ecologically speaking. Mead is ‘no-till.’ Mead means no pesticide or herbicide. And, Mead is the ancient poster child for being ‘keepers of the bees’. Look, Mead not only has a great name, but it touches our next generation’s lust for experience driven economies too. What more could we possibly ask for in a throw-back consumer consumable. Oh, is it any good. No it’s no good at all. It’s GREAT!
Welcome to the land of Mead and Honey,
Article written by Mike (Mead Manic) Hiller