'The tulip poplar tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), aka the fiddle tree or American tulip tree in The South, is a favorite among honey bees. A member of the magnolia family, it is the tallest of the eastern North American hardwoods. In the virgin cove forests of the Appalachian Mountains where we and our hive girls live, it can reach heights of 80 to 100 feet. The Fork Ridge Tulip Tree, hidden in a secret location in North Carolina is 181’10” high and is the tallest known individual tree in eastern North America. The poplar's prodigious numbers are due to the void left by the demise of the American chestnut tree decimated by the blight of 1904. Because the tulip poplar tree thrives in poor soil conditions, it’s used to restore decimated landscapes around abandoned coal mines.
Honey bees are big fans of tulip poplar trees due to their boundless nectar production. When the trees begin to bloom at around twelve years of age, the large green/yellow/orange tulip-shaped flowers contain a tablespoon of nectar and a great deal of nutritious pollen. This makes them the “go to" blossom for veteran foraging bees in the spring. Honey bees will bypass other flowers to load up on the tulip blossom’s bounty. We all know honey bees are the most efficient creatures on earth. Why spend time visiting dozens of minor blooms when you can fill up your honey stomach in one visit to the tulip poplar flower?
Tulip poplar honey is valued by our customers for the same reasons that our bees value it - the mineral rich flavor highlighted by the deep red color. The bees depend on this mineral rich nectar and its high glucose ratio for their spring build up. For human consumers, its intense and robust flavor pairs perfectly with robust cheeses or in afternoon tea. Its fruity notes with a slightly bitter finish, make it the perfect sweetener for a glazed ham. Our 2023 Smoky Mountain Wildflower is laden with tulip poplar nectar, and there's even a bit of chestnut honey in this year's wildflower honey, giving the robust mineral flavor a bit of an edge.