What are Honeybells?

by Digby_Adams

Honeybells are the Holy Grail for citrus fruit lovers. They are only available in January and come from a small region in Florida.

Honeybells are citrus treats that are only available for a short time every year. If you live up North, you might not be able to find them in your local supermarket or even gourmet fruit shop. Many honeybell lovers make their reservations for this elusive citrus fruit, a year ahead of time. Hale Groves is the perfect online fruit shop to buy all of your honeybells to eat or give as gifts. You can buy honeybells in simple trays, beautiful gift bowls and even a toy Hale Groves Honeybell Truck.

Learn About Hale Groves Farm

Citrus Fruit for You and Your Gift Giving
Halegroves Honeybell Truck
Halegroves Honeybell Truck

See that little orange sliver along the Florida east coast? That's were almost every Honeybell tree in America is growing at this very minute! It's actualy a corridor that follows the Indian River. This is the only region where the soils, climate and rainfall combine to produce the super juicy and sweet Honeybell.

But this rare fruit is a mystery - with many not even agreeing on it's name. You see it's not an orange at all. It's a tangelo. In 1911 a Duncan grapefuit and a Darcy tangerine were combined to form the hybrid Orlando tangelo. In 1931 the same hybrid was given the name the Minneola tangelo - after Minneola, Florida. Sometimes it is spelled Mineola, but that's the wrong way!

You'll also hear the name Cushman Honeybell. How did we get from tangelos to honeybells. Here's the folktale. In 1945 Ed Cushman opens a fruit packing plant in West Palm Beach Florida. One night a truckload of grapefruit arrives. Well in addition to the typical round grapfruit, the odd, never seen before Orlando tangelo was there as well. Cushman and his employees sampled them to find out what they were. After tasting the sweet juicy flavor Cushman is said to have exclaimed, Sweet as honey! And the Cushman Honeybell was born.

It doesn't matter which name you prefer. As long as the honeybell, tangelo, or minneola is grown in the Indian River corridor of Florida. Of all of the Florida fruit for sale, the honeybells are the most fleeting. Customers order their Honeybell fruit from Florida months in advance. (It's something like the people who meet the boat for their Beaujolais nouveau to make sure they get some.)

The Honeybells shown to the right are from Hale Groves in the heart of the Indian River region of Florida. The price for Honeybells and other Florida fruit can change quickly depending upon the weather. So click on the picture or link to get all of the current information including the active price

Buy an Indian River Honeybell Online

Visit the Indian River Groves and Shops

Many of the Florida citrus farms along the Indian River are small family farms that have been in the same family for generations. Al's Family Farms has been in the citrus farming business since 1977. They grow and pack the honeybells that you buy from them. Al's Famly Farms is located on I-95 in the Fort Pierce-Vero Beach area. Make a day of it. They've got tours, lunch and even a free glass of orange juice. You can drive up and down the Indian River corridor and drop in on farms like this, take the tour and learn about where oranges, grapefruit and yes, even honeybells come from.

But if you can't head to Florida and check out the honeybell crop, then at least watch the video. You can see what an authentic honeybell grove looks like and how much attention it requires. You'll see how much planning and crop management is necessary to ensure that there are enough honeybell trees bearing fruit each year. It can take between 3 to 5 years before a tree bears a honeybell. Just imagine how frustrating it is if a frost comes and kills your crop after 4 years of hard work. I say support the American citrus growers and buy Florida oranges, grapefuit and yes honeybells whenever possible.

Honeybell Tree at Red Hill Grove, Sanford Florida

Updated: 11/07/2014, Digby_Adams
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MBC on 11/10/2014

These look delicious and would make fabulous holiday gifts.

Digby_Adams on 11/09/2014

They are delicious. Sweet and sour at the same time.

WriterArtist on 11/09/2014

I have never heard of honeybells, I wish I could taste them as well. They do seem delicious.

AbbyFitz on 01/10/2014

I love these!

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