Tupelo Honey Facts
Where Tupelo Honey Comes From
Although several different Tupelo Trees yield large quantities of honey in the southeastern United States, the Apalachicola River basin is well-known for its distinctive flavored Tupelo Honey. It is also produced along the Chipola River, a tributary to the Apalachicola. The Ochlocknee and Choctahatchee Rivers also produce some tupelo. These areas are the only places in the world where certified Tupelo Honey is produced. This is because of the abundant growth of the white tupelo, Nyssa Ogeche, that produces high-quality Tupelo Honey.
The white Tupelo Tree, as it is most commonly known, usually stands 50 to 75 feet tall and is 2 to 3 feet in diameter. White Tupelo blooms from early April to early May, depending on the weather conditions. Black Tupelo, Nyssa Biflora, blooms in advance of white tupelo and is used to build up bee colony strength and stores. Black tupelo produces a less desirable honey which will granulate and is typically sold as bakery-grade honey.
Characteristics of Tupelo Honey and Nutritional Information
Flavor - mild and pleasant with a bright floral taste
Labeling of Tupelo Honey
Tupelo Honey can be identified through microscopic pollen evaluation. The distinctive shape of tupelo pollen makes this test possible. Any honey having more than 51% tupelo may be labeled as Tupelo Honey. Over the years, our honey has ranged from 75% to 95% tupelo. The word "pure" on a honey label designates that the product is pure honey, but not necessarily pure tupelo.
You Should Expect to Pay More For Fine Tupelo Honey
Tupelo Honey is a specialty honey that sells at a premium price. It is important you understand the reasons. Like any other product in a free enterprise system, Tupelo Honey follows the laws of supply and demand. Because of its superb table quality, distinctive flavor, and resistance to granulation, it is very popular with bottlers and consumers alike. Demand for Tupelo Honey has expanded to a growing world market. On the other hand supply is limited by the natural environment in which the white Tupelo Tree will grow profuse enough to produce fine white Tupelo Honey. Draining and encroaching development are steadily reducing this swampy terrain.
Most of the prime Tupelo swamplands are in government wilderness areas. Federal and state regulations are increasingly impeding access of these areas by beekeepers. In addition to competing for limited Tupelo locations, Tupelo Honey producers also face the normal rigors of increasing transportation, equipment and supply cost. At Smiley Apiaries we move our bees in from the summer locations to the Tupelo locations along the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers. After the short Tupelo season there are no more honey or pollen plants along the rivers. The bees must be moved again back to there summer location or they will soon starve.
The swamps in which the tupelo trees grow can add additional expense to production cost. Fluctuating water levels can quickly cut off access to the bees. The bees sometime have to be moved quickly in the event of rising water. Since the tupelo bloom is so short, sometimes lasting as little as 5 days or less, the effect of weather on production is profound. Thunderstorms, high winds, and other weather events can quickly destroy the bloom and end production for the year.
In order to get good Tupelo Honey, bee colonies must be stripped of all their stores just as the white Tupelo bloom begins. The bees are then given clean boxes with combs in which to place the fresh Tupelo nectar. When the Tupelo production is over, the new crop must be removed before it can be mixed with other nectar varieties. The timing of this operation is critical, and years of experience are needed to produce good quality Tupelo Honey.
What You Are Getting
What you will be getting when you buy Tupelo Honey from Smiley Apiaries? You are getting the absolute best and purest tupelo honey we can possibly make. Our honey is raw -- it is neither heated or filtered. All we do is warm the honey slightly to facilitate bottling, and we also strain out bits of beeswax and other debris. Our tupelo honey is as close as you can get to taking it straight from the beehive yourself.
Some of the honey you receive from us may have white foam or minute beeswax particles at the top of the honey. This is normal for fresh honey. This happens when the honey was packaged soon after it was extracted. The foam is caused by tiny air bubbles that get into the honey during the extracting process. These air bubbles slowly float upwards and attract pollen grains, creating a white foam known as a pollen ring. This is very common with freshly extracted honey. If the honey settles for a few months and is then bottled, there will be little or no foam.
Remember you are buying RAW-UNFILTERED-UNHEATED TUPELO HONEY, and the honey produced at Smiley Apiaries is some of the best tupelo honey produced anywhere.
Tupelo Gum Tree
Bees gather on the outside of the hive after the honey is harvested