Meadery's the bee's knees

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Things are looking blooming fantastic at Bartholomew's Meadery, as spring brings with it nectar vital for making mead.

Based in Denmark, the meadery is run by Careena and James Kellie, who said tagasaste in bloom helps to boost their hives from 240 to more than 300 bees.

"At this time of year, the bees are building up their numbers after winter," Careena said.

"The tagasaste really helps bees to breed - they love it and do really well on it."

But while the bees might like tagasaste flowers, honey made from the small tree is far too acidic to make mead. Instead, Careena and James rely on native tree species such as red gums and karris for the best honey.

If early indications are anything to go by, this season is shaping up to be excellent.

"With beekeeping, you get an inkling months in advance of what's going to happen, so you watch the tree tops," Careena said.

"At the moment, we can see that all karri trees are budded up, they're just dense. If that all blooms and as long as the nectar flows out of them, we'll have a huge amount of karri (honey) - it's looking fantastic."

The couple took over Bartholomew's Meadery three years ago. Since then, they have been updating the range of mead to suit a more contemporary palate.

"We've expanded the range so that it starts from a really quite dry mead, right up to a very sweet, traditional style," Careena said.

"We have one that's served heated and it's spicy and that is really popular on cold days.

"For summer, we have a citrus mead, which is organic grapefruit juice and honey fermented together, served over ice and it's really refreshing."

Careena worked for the meadery's previous owner, but since taking over the business, she has become fascinated by her smallest workers.

"Bees are a little bit addictive. You find out a little bit and you get a little fascinated and it's almost viral - you can't quite get enough," she said.

"Bees are impressive insects with their complex society, and honey is just so tactile, it's such a beautiful liquid - just to watch it flow is amazing."

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