September is National Honey Month (who knew?) and Florida has some of the tastiest bee products in the entire United States.
Of course everybody knows about our signature Orange Blossom Honey picked from the flowers of thousands of groves across the Sunshine State. But how about Palmetto, Gallberry, Sea Grape and Tupelo? Each has its own distinctive flavor and properties.
Who has the best Orange Blossom Honey in the state? Well that’s a matter of opinion and tastiness may be in the palate of the bee-holder.
Those who want to try the best Tupelo Honey in Florida have an opportunity each each spring as the tiny hamlet of Wewahitchka holds the Tueplo Honey Festival each May.
Along Florida’s Forgotten Coast, it’s a hop, skip and a jump from Port St. Joe. Dozens of vendors take over Lake Alice Park for a day of food, music and honey – lots and lots of honey.
In the autumn of the year, a trip to Polk County may be in order for the “Honey Bee Festival and Craft Fair.”
Bartow is home to the Ridge Beekeepers Association. Polk County is both the second largest producer of honey in Florida and the third largest in the nation. Nearly a hundred vendors come to town with a wide variety of homemade crafts and locally produced honey.
There are honey featured treats, honey for cooking, honey wine tastings, supplies for starting a beehive, a “spelling bee” for children aged 10 – 13 (facilitated by the Polk County School Board), active observation hives for attendees to see the inner workings of the beehive, and the opportunity to visit with apiculture specialists and beekeepers who can help answer questions about the local industry.
While there are apiaries and honey producing facilities across the sunshine State, one of the newest and most fun spots is The Bee Barn in bee-utifil Zolfo Springs.
The Sunshine State is the home to some of the best tasting, greatest medicinal and most interesting varieties of honey anywhere in the world. Like fine wines, each varietal has its own region and properties.
It is easy to find honeys that are sweet, buttery, peppery and even reflect the flavors of the plants from which the bees get their nectar.
While Orange Blossom is the signature honey for the state, how about Saw Palmetto? The oldest known honey in the state, it comes from the Saw Palmetto bush with a flavor has been described as “a rich, fruity, caramel taste.”
Gallberry honey is derived from the six-foot tall evergreen holly bush – also called the inkberry. It features white flowers and black berries and often found in pine flatwoods and wetlands.
Its honey is fruity and thick with a more amber color. Generally it does not granulate as quickly as other honeys
Tupelo originates from trees that grow in wet conditions predominantly in north Florida in what is known as The Big Bend area.
There also is Blueberry honey which has a mild blueberry flavor. This varietal has become extremely popular with consumers and can be found on most grocery shelves.
Sea Grape honey is produced on the coast for the most part – it also has a mild, intrinsic grape taste to it.
Brazilian pepper is an invasive species that Florida horticulturalists detest. But the bees are drawn to its small clusters of white flowers – producing a sweet honey with a definite peppery bite. .
Other honeys include mango honey, which comes out of Pine Island, on the southwest Gulf coast near Fort Myers and avocado honey as well.
There are countless health benefits to honey as well as it tasting so good! We recommend you take this month to try some of the unique varietals of Honey that Florida has to offer.
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