We are delighted to announce an uncommon treat from our lady aviators. This springs honey harvest possesses nectar from the rare chinquapin (aka chinkapin), or American chestnut tree (Castanea pumila). According to the palynology report (sample #1) from Dr. Vaughn Bryant at Texas A&M, our spring harvest has chinquapin nectar.
What is especially intriguing is the fact that the chestnut blight of 1904 virtually wiped out the American chestnut tree. The blight was an ecological disaster. Before the 20th century, the Native American chestnut grew so densely it was said a squirrel could travel from New York to Georgia on its tree limbs and never touch the ground. British naturalist and explorer John Lawson noted in his 1709 book, A New Voyage to Carolina that both the Algonquin Indians and native wildlife depended on the vast tracts of the chinquapin tree for sustenance. Hogs, turkey, and bear were just a few species that grew fat off the sweet chestnut. Native Americans used the meaty seed to flavor their venison stews. They also knew the leaves, flowers, and bark had high anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties.
Somewhere deep in the Pisgah forest of Western North Carolina, our bees found a large stand of untouched American chestnut and brought its nectar back to their hives. The aroma of this 2017 spring harvest is woody, strong and warm. The taste begins with a robust wildflower flavor – not too sweet and very mature then finishes with a sudden, chestnut piquancy. Not as harsh as the world’s most bitter honey harvested in Italy or Albania, but definitely a honey that bites back.