INDEPENDENCE, OR — Bees have been making honey for millions of years and humans have been making mead from honey for at least 9,000 years. In January Rogue joined in these ancient traditions by becoming keepers of 19 colonies of honeybees at the Rogue Farms Hopyard in Independence, Oregon.
Josh Cronin, certified beekeeper and newly appointed Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture: Department Bee of the Rogue Nation, set to work feeding pollen cakes, sugar water and honey reserves to the Rogue Farms Honeybees to ensure their survival through the winter. He then built hive stands to elevate the bees off the ground to discourage local skunks and possum from unauthorized honey sampling.
It takes the nectar of 2 million flowers to produce one pound of honey and the hive must fly 55,000 miles to accomplish this feat, so Josh is making sure the bees are healthy and unharmed when spring arrives. When the warmer weather arrives the bees will spend their days feasting on the ample supply of blossoms on and around the Farm, creating a unique honey with the distinct flavor of the Wigrich Appellation of the Willamette Valley.
The first honey harvest is expected in late July and if the weather and blossoms cooperate a second harvest may take place in September. The nectar of blackberry, strawberry, cherry, apple, hazelnut, wildflower and other crop blossoms will all contribute to the character and flavor of the raw honey which will provide the base for our Chatoe Rogue Mead.
Since 2009, Rogue has been farming seven varieties of hops, two pumpkin varieties, two varieties of barley, and rye. We plant, tend, harvest, kiln, bale, smash, roast, and brew the ingredients ourselves to create our Chatoe Rogue line of ales and lagers. The farm is also home to chickens, turkeys, our pot-belly pigs Voo and Doo and canine farm hands Sully and Atticus. We keep, feed and smoke the bees; uncap, extract and filter the honey; and brew and bottle the mead ourselves.
Chatoe Rogue Mead will be available for purchase in November. For updates, follow the bees at www.rogue.com/almanac/chatoe