What's So Special About Tupelo Honey?

Other the fact that it's a great Van Morrison song... a lot.

We recently read an article about Tupelo honey that opened our eyes to what a rare, seasonal, and utterly unique thing it is.

For example, did you know that Tupelo honey is the only honey that will not crystallize? And the because of the specific ratio of different sugars, it's the only honey diabetics can eat?

Right this minute, some very busy honeybees are feasting on Tupelo trees in Florida and Georgia, taking in as much as they can in the short blooming season from late April to May. Read on for more facts and to find out how you can get your hands on some of this stuff...

The production of Tupelo honey is not easy. Beehives have to be moved to the groves of Tupelo trees, which grow along four rivers in northwest Florida and southern Georgia. The trees only blossom for three to four weeks, so beekeepers truck their hives right into the thick of it to get the best honey.

The article we read, in Garden & Gun magazine, was about George Watkins, a beekeeper in the Florida panhandle, who loads his hives onto a barge and moves them up the river so that his bees can work deep in the tupelo groves. Watkins was even a consultant on the film Ulee's Gold, with Peter Fonda, which is all about harvesting Tupelo honey.

Read the article: Liquid Gold, from Garden & Gun

Watkins sells his honey in his hometown, but it's so prized—and in limited supply—that only the locals get it. Here's a fact from the article that puts the production in perspective: Biologists estimate it takes two million Tupelo tree flowers to produce one pound of honey. One honeybee produces about 1/12 of a teaspoon in its lifetime. Wow.

If you want to buy Tupelo honey, the Savannah Bee Company is one that distributes it across the country. You can find it in specialty stores like Dean & Deluca.

Visit the Savannah Bee Company website.

As for the taste of Tupelo honey, we can't tell you firsthand. We've never had it. We've read it's buttery, fruity, smooth, and impossible to describe. Does anyone want to give us their account?

Related: Beekeeping on a Brooklyn Rooftop

(Image: Savannah Bee Company)