Tupelo trees are a unique specimen of trees that are only found in very few places in the world. We are lucky enough to live near the Apalachicola River Basin, one of the places where Tupelo trees can be found.
These trees thrive in swampy, marsh environments. It's challenging to establish beehives here since there is very little solid land around the trees, so bee keepers in this area set-up hives on barges and float them near the Tupelo trees.
As you can tell, Tupelo Honey is quite extraordinary.
One important distinguishing feature of Tupelo honey is that it will never crystallize. This means it will keep pretty much forever. But we are sure that once you taste this sweet, liquid gold, that your jar will not last very long.
In fact, Van Morrison sang the praises of this food in his song "Tupelo Honey." The lyrics say, 'She's as sweet as Tupelo Honey.'
They also filmed a movie in this area called "Ulee's Gold," starring Peter Fonda as a Tupelo Honey beekeeper in the nearby town of Wewahitchka (or simply Wewa).
Buddy sells his honey at the local Port St Joe farmers market on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays (when we can gather again).
Everybody was intrigued by Buddy's bees and the story of how they not only survived Hurricane Michael but thrived and produced honey. He retold the story so many times that he finally wrote a book to tell of how he became a beekeeper, and how his bees survived the hurricane.
From the beginning, Buddy prayed to the Holy Spirit about what to do; the answer he received was 'Start Here.' So, on his Promise Land (which his dad gave to him in 2009), he has a Holy Spirit red barn, some rocking chairs on the front porch, a bird house for purple martins... and 3 beehives. In a short period of time, he built up a collection of bee suits and equipment to manage the production of honey.
The fantastic little creatures survived one of the worst hurricanes to hit the Florida Panhandle. On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael roared ashore in Mexico Beach as a category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 160mph and gusts up to 200mph.
But they survived, Buddy and the bees.
The privacy fence fell on the beehives, and Buddy believes that is what saved them. He set the hives back together, wished them well, and went about cleaning the debris from the yard, house, and neighborhood.
It turns out, he had to feed the bees for several months to help them along (as I new beekeeper, he had no idea that he would have to do this). The hurricane stripped all leaves and blossoms from the trees and bushes, leaving the bees without food. When the bee inspector arrived 4 months after the hurricane, and the hives had mites.
So if the hurricane didn't kill the bees, the mites might.
Despite all of this, in the end of May 2019... the bees produced their first batch of honey! This is why Buddy named that batch 'Hurricane Michael Ground Zero Survivor Honey.
Buddy and the damaged hives after Hurricane Michael