This spring, on our bee safari down in Florida, we met up with the Cantu family, who are one of the producers of our Florida Orange Blossom Honey.
In addition to showing us around the orange groves, we had an incredibly special opportunity to follow them on a different mission: the pursuit of rare tupelo honey.
WHAT IS TUPELO HONEY AND WHAT MAKES IT SO DARN SPECIAL?
Tupelo honey is a varietal honey of exquisite flavor that is very rare and highly prized. Tupelo honey comes only from a very specific region: the Apalachicola River basin in the Florida panhandle and the Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge along the Georgia-Florida border. It is here that the tupelo tree blooms for a short period in April and the bees create this golden nectar. A recent NYT article estimated there are “probably fewer than 200 beekeepers producing the honey in any notable quantities.” Any bad weather during this period risks the heavy flowers being blown off in strong winds, cutting the harvest short. It is for this reason, plus the very small range of Tupelo swamps, that this is such a rare honey.
HOW IS IT HARVESTED?
Beekeepers that collect tupelo honey leave their hives either upland in the grove or alongside the banks on barges while the bees feed on the tupelo blossoms. We source our tupelo honey from Steve and Leslie Cantu of Wewahitchka, Florida, who harvest by bee barge (and were kind enough to take us along for the ride)!
Just before the tupelo bloom, when the trees begin to leaf out and are about to flower, is the perfect time to put the bees out. The night before departure, when the bees are less active, the team went out in the dark to load 60 hives onto the barge. They departed at dawn for a trip up the river into the swamps, where the tupelo trees are located. Here, they set the barge for the duration of the bloom (generally a few weeks if the weather cooperates). The whole experience was so lovely and peaceful and beautiful, and the greatest part is it ends in this phenomenal, sweet, delicious honey.
SOUNDS SPECIAL, BUT HOW DOES IT TASTE?
Some say the flavor has hints of rosewater, with buttery undertones. When we tried it here at Runamok, we found that the only way to describe it is that it tastes like honey… times 1,000. It is like the uber-honey – the supreme and outstanding example of what pure honey can taste like: sweet, rich, and, forgive us for driving the point, the honeyest of the honeys. In other words, it doesn’t taste like pineapple, brown sugar, or jasmine – it tastes like honey, one that is so good, it inspired a timeless song. We think if gold had a flavor, this would be it.
Unlike other raw honeys, Tupelo honey will not crystalize due to its high fructose content.
READY TO TRY? AVAILABILITY IS LIMITED FOR THIS RARE HONEY, SO ORDER YOURS NOW.