Health Benefits of Sourwood Honey
& Other Raw Honeys
Sourwood honey is wildly popular in the Appalachian region. The rich, buttery taste and the health benefits of raw Sourwood Honey combine to make it a local favorite. In fact, we like it so well that we do not have a lot to sell. Most of the Sourwood Honey produced is consumed right here.
Why is Sourwood Honey so popular? Sourwood Honey does NOT taste sour. (Yes I get asked that a lot). It has a rich, buttery taste with a pleasant after-taste. This rare honey is produced by honey bees. Nectar is harvested from the blossoms of the Sourwood tree. This tree (oxydendron arboretum) is native to the Appalachian Mountains.
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Sourwood trees are usually small under-story trees. They can reach greater heights where growing conditions are best. In the fall, the Sourwood leaves come alive with color. It is not unusual to see yellow, red and purple leaves on a single tree. An excellent ornamental, Sourwood trees love acid soil. You will often see them growing on ridges above streams. I chose to save my Sourwood trees years before I became a beekeeper. I’m so glad I did.
What Are the Health Benefits of Sourwood Honey & Others
The health benefits of Sourwood Honey are the same as the health benefits of any raw honey. Sourwood Honey is an excellent instant energy source for athletes. Containing minerals and anti-oxidants, honey is a good substitute for other forms of sweeteners. A tablespoon of honey in your morning cup of coffee adds a natural sugar source with no artificial ingredients.
If you are sick with a bad cold, hot tea sweetened with Sourwood Honey is a delight. The rich, buttery taste blends well with most herbal teas. It is a light flavor that does not over power the tea flavor. (Some types of honey mask the tea flavor. ) The anti-bacterial properties of raw honey soothes sore throats and helps with coughing.
Raw Sourwood Honey can be used to treat burns and wounds. After cleaning the wound, apply raw honey and bandage loosely. Honey helps promote healing and prevent infection. (Good information for a hiker. A small bottle of honey can be an energy source and wound treatment as well ! )
The health benefits of Sourwood Honey are not what makes it great. It’s all about taste. No other honey tastes like Sourwood. However, while you are enjoying the great flavor of this special honey, it is good to know that the health benefits of Sourwood Honey as are powerful as any other raw honey. This is true even though it is made from primarily one nectar source. Allergies sufferers might be better off to consume Wildflower Honey made from a variety of nectar.
Sourwood Honey Demand vs Supply
While the Sourwood tree grows and blooms in areas outside the Southeast, these trees do not produce enough nectar for honey production. Nectar production of Sourwood trees is linked to elevation. The higher mountain regions produce more nectar than the foothills. In June and July, the southern and central Appalachians come alive with white Sourwood blossoms.
In South Carolina, you may find Sourwood trees blooming in the mid-state area of Columbia. But, little Sourwood honey is produced south of Pickens, SC. ( located in the northern part of the state) Sourwood trees produce best at an altitude above 1000 ft. At 1,100 ft above sea level, I just made it.
How Does a Beekeeper Get Sourwood Honey?
Let me tell you how I manage my bees to get a mono-floral honey such as Sourwood. The process is the same regardless of the number of hives a beekeeper owns.
A standard hive consists of boxes used by the bees to raise young and store food. On top of the standard hive, I add “honey supers” that will hold excess honey. When the Sourwood trees around my bee yard start to bloom, I will remove any partially filled honey supers and put empty boxes in their place. During the several weeks of the Sourwood bloom, honey produced is most likely Sourwood.
South Carolina Sourwood Honey
South Carolina beekeepers in the northern most corner of the state can reap a Sourwood Honey crop. We do not have the elevation to produce as much nectar as the higher mountains of NC. Nectar does not reach the bottom of the urn shaped flowers until afternoon.
Bees are not lazy so they will harvest sumac nectar in the morning. This gives South Carolina Sourwood a reddish tint most years. Our local Sourwood Honey does maintain the delicious flavor that we expect.
Is this real Sourwood Honey? You cannot judge a honey by color alone. Each year, I hear stories of customers paying large prices for clear colored honey that is NOT Sourwood. When purchasing honey, you are at the mercy of the producer. Ask questions, educate yourself and do not be lured by prices that seem absurdly low for a premium honey.
Try Sourwood Honey
When I think of Sourwood Honey supply, I recall a statement I read in a well-known beekeeping magazine years ago. “More Sourwood Honey is consumed than is produced each year”. Think about that for a moment.
Sourwood Honey is in such demand that it commands a premium price. It is not unusual to see a quart of Sourwood Honey going for $18- $20 and up! We consume most of the crop locally. (Can you blame us?)
If you would like to experience the sweet spicy taste of Sourwood Honey don’t delay. The crop will be gone before you know it. I have a small amount for sale in my online store each year. When its gone – its gone. Buy Sourwood Honey today.