Tupelo Honey Facts
Where Tupelo Honey Comes From
Tupelo Honey comes from the blossom of the tupelo tree, which belongs to the sour gum family. There are several species of gum trees, but only the white tupelo tree (Nyssa Ogeche) produces an excellent table grade honey. Although white tupelo trees grow throughout the Southeastern United States, some of the largest concentrations of these special trees are found in the Florida Panhandle, in and around the Apalachicola and Chipola river basins. These areas are world-renowned for producing high quality Tupelo Honey.
The white tupelo tree grows 50 to 75 feet tall and is 2 to 3 feet in diameter. The tree is most content when standing in a few feet of water. White tupelo trees bloom from early April to early May, depending on the weather conditions. The black tupelo tree (Nyssa Biflora) blooms in advance of the white tupelo and the nectar from this tree helps to build up bee colony strength. Black tupelo trees produce a less desirable honey which, if harvested, is typically sold as bakery-grade honey.
What Makes Tupelo Honey So Special
Tupelo Honey is a specialty honey that sells at a premium price. Because of its superb table quality, wonderful flavor, and resistance to granulation, it is highly prized by honey lovers. There is an ever growing demand for Tupelo Honey, both inside and outside of the United States. Unfortunately, the annual supply of Tupelo Honey is struggling to meet this demand.
Most of the prime swamplands where white tupelo trees grow are in government wilderness areas. Federal and state regulations are increasingly impeding access to these areas by beekeepers. As a result, beekeepers have limited locations on private land where the beehives can be placed, and which are still close enough to the tupelo tree blossoms. Some beekeepers place their hives on barges that are tied to the banks of the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers.
Tupelo tree blossoms are very fragile and unpredictable. In good years, the nectar flow lasts a few weeks. In bad years, the fragile flowers may be ruined by wind, hard rain or cold weather just a few days after opening. When the tupelo blossoms drop from the trees, that is the end of the Tupelo Honey season for the year. The swamps where the trees grow can add to production costs. Fluctuating water levels caused by heavy rains can cut off access to the bees, making hive management more difficult. In the event of rising waters, the beehives must be moved quickly to save the bees from drowning.
To produce the best Tupelo Honey, bee colonies must be stripped of all honey stores just as the white tupelo trees come into bloom. The bees are then given clean boxes with new comb in which they deposit fresh tupelo nectar. When the tupelo nectar flow ends, the new crop of Tupelo Honey must be removed before the bees start adding nectar from other flowers. The timing of this operation is critical, and years of experience are needed to produce a good quality Tupelo Honey.
What You Are Getting From Us
We bottle and sell premium, all-natural and 100% pure raw honey. It comes to you exactly as the bees made it. Our way of processing preserves all of the good stuff, such as beneficial enzymes, pollens, vitamins and minerals. We do warm the honey slightly (to 100 degrees or so) to facilitate bottling, and we strain out the bigger pieces of beeswax and bee parts. But you may still see small foam layer at the top of the bottle, or a few specks floating in your honey. These are edible and they attest to the natural goodness of our products.
We sell 100% raw honey, but it is impossible to get 100% tupelo (or orange blossom, or holly, etc.). While the bees will generally focus on just one nectar source at a time, it is impossible to stop them from visiting other plants in bloom. Over the years, our tupelo honey has ranged from 70% to 95% tupelo content. The higher the tupelo content, the less likely that the honey will crystallize (also called "sugaring"). We cannot guarantee, however, that our tupelo honey will not sugar. But this is a natural process that does not change the flavor or quality of the honey. Sugaring is easily reversed by placing the bottle in a pan of warm water (110 degrees or so) for 15 minutes or so.
Flavor: Mild and Pleasant with a Bright Floral Taste
Moisture: 17% or less
Color: Light Amber, Cloudy with a Slight Greenish Hue
Per Tablespoon (21 grams): Calories, 70; Total Fat, 0 grams; Total Carbohydrates, 18 grams; Sugars, 18 grams; Protein, 0.1 grams; Sodium, 0.4 milligrams; Trace Vitamins and Minerals, thiamine, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, nicotinic acid, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and phosphorous.
Bees gather on the outside of the hive after the honey is harvested