Tupelo Honey is considered the "champagne" of honey and is one of the most sought after varieties of honey in the world. Due to its superior taste, the demand for this honey far outpaces its limited supply. Tupelo honey has a unique sophisticated taste with buttery undertones, floral notes, and a hint of vanilla. Some people describe it as being more mellow tasting than most honey and almost everyone agrees that it is not as sweet as most other honey.
Just like the quality of wine depends in large part on the grapes used, the quality of honey depends in large part on the source of nectar the bees use to create it. Tupelo Honey is made from the nectar of the sunburst blossoms on White Tupelo Trees (Nyssa ogeche) that grow in the swamplands of southern Georgia and the Florida panhandle. These trees are primarily found along the banks of four large rivers and wetlands: Apalachicola, Chipola, Choctahatchee, and Ochlocknee.
White tupelo trees bloom in late April to early May for two to four weeks. Many beekeepers truck in their bees to feed on the Nyssa ogeche blossoms. However, the more dedicated beekeepers prefer to take their bees deeper into the region using river barges. In this way, they can more precisely control that their bees are feeding one hundred percent on White Tupelo Tree blossoms exclusively. Any mixing of other nectars can diminish the quality of taste.
Before they release the bees, beekeepers clean their trays to ensure that Tupelo Honey is not mixed with honey created from other types of flowers. They also watch the trees closely and don't release their bees until they see the White Tupelo Trees in bloom. At the end of the season, they are careful to remove their bees from the region as the last blossoms fall from the trees. During the two to four week stretch, the labor involved for both the bee keepers and the bees is intense, with bee keepers often working around the clock to collect and package the Tupelo Honey.
Tupelo Honey is a southeastern delicacy that is so prized, it is sold in the most exclusive gourmet food shops in the New York City. However, the best place to get this "liquid gold" is from one of the local mom and pop stores in the region as this is where you will find this honey the freshest. Gourmet food connoisseurs have been known to travel great distances to do just this!