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    Smiley Honey News — tupelo honey

    Tupelo Honey - Food of the Gods

    Honeybees are not native to North America. They first came to this continent on ships carrying European settlers. The first recorded beehives were offloaded in Virginia around 1622. There is also a myth that the white tupelo gum tree (Nyssa Ogeche) was imported from Asia. One story recounts that a missionary tasted tupelo honey while in China, and had carried a sack full of tupelo tree seeds back to America. While travelling on a steamship on the Apalachicola River, a thief stole her purse. Not wanting the seeds, he threw them overboard in disgust and the rest is history. While we love the serendipity of this myth, Wikipedia reports that the tupelo tree is a native species. The word "tupelo" is actually derived from two Creek words for tree (itoand swamp (opilwa).

    The white tupelo tree likes to grow in standing water, which is certainly plentiful in the Florida Panhandle. In particular, the Apalachicola and Chipola river basins, which run from North to South in Gulf County, are home to some of the highest concentrations of tupelo trees in the world. Each year around mid-April, the tupelo tree forms thousands of green buds that resemble small peas. After a few days, these buds swell into the shape of a tiny, green cauliflower. Finally, near the end of April, the buds will explode with dozens of thin spikes (pistols) which secrete the precious tupelo nectar. In good years, the blossoms will last up to three weeks. During this brief window of time, local beekeepers set out thousands of hives as close as possible to the tupelo trees. Millions of bees then collect and carry the tupelo nectar back to their hives where they product that golden elixir that has been aptly described as “food from the gods.”

    What Happened to the Tupelo Honey in 2015?

    Tiffany Jackson, a reported from WMBB-TV in Panama City, stopped by Smiley Honey to ask about the lack of tupelo honey in 2015. I told her the sad story of how the 2015 tupelo season was washed out due to heavy rains.


    PBS Story About Gulf County and Tupelo Honey

    The PBS station in Tallahassee did a nice story about Gulf County, Wewahitchka and Tupelo Honey. There are some shots of our bottling room, our expert honey bottler Shirley Williams, and our booth at the 2014 Tupelo Honey Festival.


    2014 Tupelo Honey Festival and Harvest Update

    A big thank you to Channel 7 in Panama City for a wonderful pre-festival publicity. 

    Also, we have been receiving lots of inquiries about the 2014 Tupelo Honey harvest. It will be VERY late this year. Our beekeeper partners will start pulling the honey supers off the hives in the next few days. It will then take another week to 10 days to extract the honey. Early indications are that it will be a low harvest in terms of yield, but we will not know until all extraction is done. Keep your fingers crossed!

    Tupelo Honey Countdown

    Folks are starting to ask when will the 2014 tupelo honey be available. Recent weather in the Florida panhandle has been very wet and cooler than normal. Based on past experience, this means that the tupelo trees will not bloom until late April and the nectar flow will carry over into early May. The tupelo honey would then be harvested in mid-May and should be available for sale soon thereafter. Keep your fingers crossed for a bumper crop -- we are overdue for a good year.