This week (Wednesday the 5th) British beekeepers are donning their suits, lighting their smokers and marching to the Houses of Parliament to deliver a petition and lobby for more funding for research on bee disease/health. It's been the poorest honey crop on record apparently. Probably since about 1517. Back when England was Catholic, beekeeping was big business due to the demand for beeswax candles and there was plenty of honey to be had, enough to eat and drink. With Reformation, honey took a nosedive on the commodities trading market and soon beer superseded mead as this country's drink of choice.
Just finished racking 3 gallons of mead, another 3 months and it will be ready to bottle. The initial taste test was very encouraging.
In 1600, Harrison wrote in his History of England, "There is a kind of swish swash made also in Essex, and divers other places, with honeycomb and water, which homely country wives putting some pepper among, and a little other spice, call 'mead'. Very good in mine opinion for such as love to be loose-bodied at large, or a little eased of the cough; otherwise it differeth as much from the true metheglin as chalk from cheese."
Here's to being loose-bodied at large!