Good news for tupelo honey lovers…the bees are back! For the last few years, production has been down for several different reasons; ranging from lack of fresh water to mild winters. But this year, the honey bees are expected to come back strong.
The indicators are there and it seems like we are right on track for a great season. Tommy Duggar and Donald Smiley will quickly remember what it is like to get stung several times a day; they're getting ready for the highly regarded tupelo honey season.
"The unique thing about this area is its tupelo honey. This are is known for tupelo honey production, especially Gulf County in particular," Donald Smiley of Smiley Apiaries said.
This wooded swamp filled with Tupelo trees makes this whole process possible. Very soon, every yard will be swarming with bees. It's estimated that close to 50,000 hives will be placed around the Apalachicola River-Basin.
Beekeepers say that about 30,000- 50,000 bees can reside in a hive at any given time; their job is to go around pollinating trees. Once they are done, they will return to the hive and deposit their honey.
"These bees came from California. They stay here until May and then head to North Dakota. And when they leave North Dakota in the summer (Mid-August), they'll stay in South Florida to bear the winter," Duggar said.
The Smiley Apiaries will continue to unload bees off 16-wheelers until they reach their mark of 1,300 bee hives. Right now, they are anticipating the Tupelo trees to bloom in April, which puts them on track for a May harvest.