Tag Archives: Visit Gulf County

Southern Makers: Tupelo Honey from Deep South Honey

In case y’all haven’t gotten enough of bees this week (I never will), I thought I would share some thoughts on the pride of the Florida Panhandle and my home town: Tupelo Honey.

The Keeping of Bees  Oysters & Pearls.jpg

I have a bit of sad news.  The tupelo honey harvest was less than stellar this year.  The water rose too high and beekeepers couldn’t get their hives close enough to the tupelo blooms.  On top of the that, between the polar vortex and a late, paltry bloom, the tupelo trees didn’t really fulfill their end of the bargain, either.  I had big plans to share the details on my friend’s honey business, but alas, he doesn’t have enough to sell directly to my readers.  However, I decided it was worth sharing the pictures anyway, because I hail from the land of Tupelo and it’s an important industry in my hometown of Bristol, Florida and the surrounding areas along the Apalachicola River.  So with that introduction, meet my buddy Andrew Finch of Deep South Honey.

DEEP SOUTH HONEY

Andrew Finch, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

I grew up with Andrew Finch.  A Chattahoochee native, Andrew has been keeping bees for a few years.  Constantly striving to grow his hives and his business, he has upwards of sixty hives now.  He is passionate about his bees and tupelo honey, and he has become a great resource for a novice such as myself.  He has learned from some of the Wewa beekeeping giants, but he says he learns something new every day.

SNOW ON THE FRAMES
 Snow on the Frame - Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

“Snow on the frames!”

That’s what Finch (as we grew up calling him) said as soon as he cracked open the first hive on the day I visited him in one of his bee yards.

That snow-white wax is a sure sign of tupelo blooming.

Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Honey Bee, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

TUPELO IN THE PANHANDLE

I know I talk about tupelo honey a lot, and for good reason.  I mentioned it’s a huge industry in my hometown of Bristol, Florida, along with Hosford, Wewahitchka (aka Wewa) and many other places along the Apalachicola River.  In fact, it’s about the only industry besides timber.  But it’s an industry because of its special qualities.  Tupelo honey tastes amazing.  It’s delicate and light in color and flavor.  And that flavor?  It’s unmistakable.  It’s the only honey that won’t granulate (aka crystallize).  It’s the perfect table honey.  Obviously, I’m biased because I was raised on it, but lots of other people think so, too.  Ever seen the movie Ulee’s Gold?

It was filmed from Hosford to Wewa, with real local beekeepers as stunt doubles for Peter Fonda, and it made our sweet Tupelo Honey pretty famous.

Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Honey Bees, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Honey Bees Making Tupelo Honey; Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

TUPELO THE TREE, NOT THE TOWN 

I’ve been asked before if Tupelo Honey comes from Tupelo, Mississippi.  Most people don’t know what makes Tupelo… well, Tupelo.  Honey is named for the nectar source the bees were feeding on when they made the honey.  Hence Orange Blossom Honey in Central and South Florida, or Wildflower Honey on the Plains, or Pumpkin Honey, or Avocado Honey, or Blueberry Honey, or any one of the many, many varietals of honey.  To get pure varietals of honey, beekeepers must put their bees at the nectar flow just as the species begins to bloom and then remove them just as quickly.

Snow on the Frame, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Tupelo Honey comes from the White Ogeechee Tupelo Tree (nyssa ogeche), which was imported from China many moons ago, and thrives in the river swamps of the Florida Panhandle.

Tupelo Tree, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls  Tupelo Tree, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Those little poof balls turn into barely visible white fluff, which may see a little anti-climatic to you and me, but not to the bees.  If you venture out into the swamp when the tupelo is in full bloom, you’ll hear what beekeepers call the “tupelo roar.”  Literally all you can hear around you is the buzzing and humming of millions of honey bees.  Tupelo Trees produce an extremely high nectar flow, and the bees will focus all their energy on this single source of nectar until the bloom is over.  Once it is, the beekeepers must pull the frames or move the bees, lest their precious Tupelo gets tainted with any other source of nectar.
Tupelo Blooms, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Tupelo Tree, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

It’s pretty amazing how much honey these bees can make while the Tupelo is blooming, and if conditions are right, they’ll make a whole lot of it.

Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Honey Bees, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

 Tupelo Tree, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

TUPELO HONEY

I know that everyone is partial to certain types of honey, but I thought I would explain a bit of my love affair with Tupelo.  Keep an eye on Deep South Honey – Finch will update the site if he can sell any directly to you, and has plans to grow his business.  Otherwise, I thought I would include some Tupelo Honey Resources for your browsing pleasure, whether you’re a beekeeper or just a honey-enthusiast.

Honeyville, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Deep South Honey

Deep South Honey on Instagram

Tupelo Honey Festival in Wewahitchka, Florida

Tupelo Beekeepers Association

Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey–The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World

The Bee House – Beekeeping Supplies

Smiley Honey

L.L. Lanier & Sons Tupelo Honey

 Until Next Time

Girls’ Weekend in St. Joe Beach

As you may have deduced from Instagram, a few of my ADPi girlfriends and I got together at my parents’ beach house on St. Joe Beach this weekend!  We try to get our little group together at least once a year (outside of weddings), and it was my turn to host.  I’m a day late and a dollar short on posting about it because 4 of us (including myself) brought home a stomach bug as a souvenir (one of us had it while we were there), and I was out of commission the entirety of yesterday.  It was an unfortunate return to reality, but we still had SUCH a good time!

I prepared for their arrival by planning a couple of little party favors for them.

Custom Oysters & Pearls Candles from The Refinery in Bainbridge, Georgia

First, I created a custom scent at The Refinery and brought in a random assortment of jars I had saved up.

Candles from the Refinery for Oysters & Pearls

My custom scent was appropriate for the weekend, I thought: a mixture of cotton blossom (representative of Georgia and The Refinery in Bainbridge) and Still Waters, representing Still Waters and The Refinery themselves but also the fact that our weekend was spent by the water.

Custom Candles for Natalie at Oysters & Pearls Blog by The Refinery in Bainbridge, Georgia

The ladies tied one of my oyster shell ornaments on each one, plus a Refinery tag on the other side, and they turned out to be the perfect little party favor.

College ADPi Girlfriends Reunion with Candles from The Refinery in Bainbridge, Georgia

Naturally, I had to add a custom koozie commemorating the occasion.  I created these myself and had them made at Vistaprint.  They only come in white, which worked perfectly for our purposes, and fortunately they are heavy-duty and and have a neoprene-ish texture, which will keep them from getting dirty.  That isn’t an affiliate link or anything, I just thought I’d review their koozies while I was at it, since I had never ordered them from Vistaprint before.

We all got to the house very late Thursday night, and the girls all loved both favors!

Friday it was raining most of the day, so we all had a mimosa and got dressed and headed into Port St. Joe for some shopping, eating, and bar hopping.

We started at Provisions with pitchers of red and white sangria, their TDF bruschetta, and goat cheese fondue.  I had the St. Joe Saute for lunch, which was a pasta dish full of bay scallops, shrimp, artichokes, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes.  It was delish!

Then we hopped on over to Joseph’s Cottage, my favorite little store in all of St. Joe.  I dropped off some of my handmade oyster ornaments there while we shopped and chatted with the sweet-as-pie owner, Melissa.  I think they’re the perfect fit in her shop!

Afterwards, after popping into a couple more shops, we headed over to The Thirsty Goat at the Port Inn and had some bevs with Sir William.

He’s a charming fella.  Afterwards we moseyed over to Sunset Grill for an excellent supper and more drinks, which is also where Wheat and I had our rehearsal dinner.

Anyway, are you sensing a theme, here?

After that, we headed back to house for more fellowshipping (after a quick pitstop at the Haughty Heron for supplies, of course).

Saturday morning we woke up to a gorgeous, albeit exceptionally windy, day on St. Joe Beach!

 We braved the wind and posted up on the beach in front of the house.  However, the wind disguised the fact that we were getting burned… badly.  OUCH.  I don’t think I’ve ever, ever been this sun burned before.  #amateurhour

Saturday night we went out to eat at Killer Seafood for a very late dinner, which was great, then came home and nursed our wounds and played Cards Against Humanity,
 also known as the most fun game known to man.

And then Sunday around noon, we said our goodbyes.  I was so sad to see them all go!  Hal and I stayed and finished cleaning up, then met Wheat at my parents’ house to check on our bees there.

As you may remember, we tied honeycomb from the hive we moved into frames for their new digs.  Marc and I checked them last Wednesday evening, entirely too late in the evening, actually, and we saw the old queen, who I have since dubbed “Bee-yonce.”  We also saw a juvenile queen we think must have hatched from the queen cells we left in there.  We can only assume they fought to death, as queen bees will do, because they haven’t swarmed since then. We were checking for that on Sunday, when Wheat and I returned to cut the twine off.

Cutting Strings Off of Frames | Oysters & Pearls

As you can see, I’m much braver now and ditched the bee suit (despite my bee sting on Wednesday – to be explained further tomorrow) and also standing extremely awkwardly due to my painfully blistered legs.

Natalie & Wheat Beekeeping | Oysters & Pearls

Nat and Wheat Beekeeping | Oysters & Pearls

The bees are doing really well, and busy as… you guessed it.  We won’t bother them again until we add another super and a queen excluder to the top, possibly this weekend.  More details on that later!

We went with my parents to The Whip afterwards, and then around 1:30 a.m. yesterday morning, I was struck with the stomach bug and promptly lost my Tailfeather sandwich.  I spent a miserable day in bed and on the couch yesterday, but mostly I just really despise laying around all day, even when I need (am forced) to do it.  Thank goodness I had a good nurse to go get me pedialyte!

I’ll be back with more bee posts the rest of this week.  Hopefully I’ll be 100% by then!

Until Next Time