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It's Sourwood Time

We are located in the foothills of North Carolina and one of the most desired types of honey is Sourwood. The Sourwood tree (Oxydendrum arboreum) is most common to the lower chain of the Appalachian Mountains and can be found anywhere from Pennsylvania to Florida. The tree can grow from 40 to 65 feet tall and has dark green leaves in the summer that turn to a bright red in the fall. The flowers form in clusters and are a white, bell-shape that bloom in late June through about the third week of July. The honey that the bees make from Sourwood nectar doesn’t actually have a sour flavor, but the flavor is very distinctive and the aftertaste to me, has sort of a twang to it. Sourwood honey has a light amber color that is easily recognized.

The Sourwood honey flow only lasts a short period and if the weather and other factors have not been favorable the flow will not be as productive as hoped for by many beekeepers. Since this type of honey is so sought after in our area it sells very quickly and is usually sold for a premium.

Since our hives are fairly new this year, we are not counting on a Sourwood honey flow for profit. We are hoping that our bees will be able to store enough honey to get them all through the winter. It would be a nice benefit if we were able to take a little for ourselves, but I’m not counting on it. It is much more important for the hives to survive the winter months.

Every region in the US is different. Do you have a special type of honey in your area that is more desirable than other types? If so, please leave a comment about the type of honey and when the flow usually occurs. We’d all be interested in hearing about your prized honey!

More references on Sourwood Honey: slowfoodusa.org mtnhoney.com

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