Degree Granting Department
White, Nancy Marie
historical archaeology, beekeeping, apiary, Gulf County, Wewahitchka
Several archaeological sites in the lower Apalachicola River Valley have evidence of beekeeping in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries. At least two of these are also prehistoric sites (Depot Creek, 8Gu56 and Clark Creek, 8Gu60), which are Rangia (clam) shell mounds. Both sites are deep in the river swamp, which has the largest stand of tupelo trees in the world. The valley has a long tradition of beekeeping. Apiarists (beekeepers) would bring their bees by boat to remote locations in the swamps during the short tupelo flowering season to take advantage of the extensive forest. Tupelo honey has been commercially harvested since at least the nineteenth century, and has the reputation for being one of the finest honeys world-wide. It is prized for its light golden amber color and characteristic ability never to granulate, but to remain in a liquid state. Shell mounds in the swamps offered high ground on which to build honey production centers.
Such remote locations also were ideal for moonshine stills, with the beekeeping and honey production as a plausible cover operation. A significant amount of historical artifacts was [sic] recovered from both sites to merit further research. A third site, Lower Chipola Apiary (8Gu104) is a single component early-to mid- twentieth-century apiary consisting of a standing two-story honey house and scattered beekeeping equipment. Archaeological methods, historical research, and oral histories were used to document beekeeping in the Apalachicola River Valley. Exploration of beekeeping and honey production in this valley during the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries has offered significant data on a once notable industry and way of life in northwest Florida, comparable to other agricultural industries.
Scholar Commons Citation
Hockersmith, Kelly S., "Apalachicola's gold: Archaeology and history of tupelo honey production in northwest Florida" (2004). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.