Honeybell Orange Blossom Picture

Wandering around the yard with a camera, you see some things pop up in Spring. 

My front yard that day smelled sweet, and floral.  The Honeybell Orange Tree was in Blossom.

That doesn’t mean that there will be oranges on the tree.  I’ve had some bad luck the last few years.  Last year, nothing.  I didn’t get a single fruit.   In fact, we were worried that the tree was done for.

This tree is too close to the carport, too close to the fence.  While oranges grow well in this town, and in Broward County, they don’t like to be “too hot”. 

Over the winter, we made sure it got its fair share of water when the twice weekly irrigation was done.   The drip feed lines were extended and pipes run out to the tree.   It also gets some water from the air conditioning as well.  May as well use that water instead of creating a home for more of my pet mosquitoes and algae. 

Every year we fret about this tree, but somehow it manages to hang on.  I want to dig it up and move it to a new spot, but I am afraid it would hate the experience and give up on us. 

One year that it did give fruit, I had the pleasure of walking to the yard, picking a ripe honeybell, and standing in the yard while eating it.  Yes, the Florida Trifecta of Home Ownership was won – the ability of growing fruit, eating it off your own tree, and doing so in your yard on a pleasant day.  That was pointed out to me by a tourist who was walking down the street.

No, I didn’t give him the other orange from the tree.  It was a very small crop.

Buster’s Orange

Having worked on the Jeep it was time to get some new fuses.   The auto parts store is only about a mile away, and Darth Jeep needed some exercise.

I was standing on the front porch, keys and faceplate to the radio in hand when I spotted them, Buck and Buster.   Buck is this guy who is friends with the new neighbor Jack who is watching the house while he’s gone.  Buster is the dog.   Specifically he is a fawn colored “Mixed Breed” puppy that is going to be a medium sized dog. 

Cute little thing, and lethal with the tongue.  He really should be called Buster Mc Licky since he’s one of those bouncy little things that feels it’s his job to lick you and every thing you are carrying.  Buster chasing geckos was more entertaining than the drive so it was time to watch that little bundle of unharnessed energy bounce around.  Buck on the other hand looked more confused than amused.  Confused since he had something so wild and playful.

Around that time Buster spotted me from the next property over and decided it was time to pull Buck with him.  Buck was a powerful man, probably as heavy as I am and solid.  Having a little bit of a puppy at five months pull him onto the yard was more a show of how gently Buck was treating the little guy than anything else.

I had stepped down into the carport and was behind the Jeep when they got to me and after a few fractured sentences, Buster spotted the new toy.  A partially ripened orange that had rolled off the tree this morning was on the ground.   He pulled from the collar and pranced around with this puppy sized fruit, the size of a small tomato, and decided it was his.

Now it was time to corral this little tawny bundle of energy back into the collar, but the problem was that he was just way too fast for big Buck to handle so the little dog ended up deciding it was time for belly rubs.  At that point all was well, the collar was back, the orange was forgotten and we were on our way.

Coming back home, minus Buck and Buster, plus 10 fuses, the orange was still sitting forgotten in the yard.  It must be just the right size for a dog because when it was time to take its picture, my own Lettie decided she wanted to handle it too.  She knows what an orange is so I was a bit surprised when she picked it up off the chair with her mouth, then flipped it in the air and dropped it.

One last sniff, it came to rest in the middle of the living room, forgotten, she needed her attention from me and I was happy to oblige.

Honeybells make for strange lunch buddies

I was sitting in a very crowded mall at lunch a few days back and a pair of little old ladies invited themselves to my table.  It happens frequently as I guess I just happen to look safe. 

I went on with my mouth full of Ham and Cheese and let them have as much privacy as you can in a large mall food court while they went on with their lunches that they bought there.  I tend to carry a lunch and happened to have one in that mall at that day. 

There we sat, me acting like I was starved, two strangers at the table, and not much conversation going on.  It was a very loud place so I wasn’t trying to pay attention.   As I remember I was quite rushed until the attack of the Honeybells.

I had gotten about midway through a large container of Honeybell Orange slices that I had packed when I felt eyes on me.  You see, I’m not the only person who likes Oranges, and since I live in the Sunshine State, I can get varieties that you just can’t in the North unless you have someone who can hook you up.   I looked up and heard “those look so good, you don’t know how close you came to losing them” with a twinkle in her eye and a southern drawl on her voice.  I smiled and said they’re Honeybells, so you probably never had one before unless you know of them.

See Honeybells are an odd cross of Tangelo and some other fruits grown on a Grapefruit root cutting from time to time.  They are very sweet, orange with a hint of honey to them.   They also get quite big, and have a distinctive handle on the top that comes from the Tangelo Side Of The Family.  They’re a softer fruit than what you’re probably used to and normally darker than your average Navel.

My sister in New Jersey knows of them because one of my last purchases when I was a snowbird every year was to buy her 1/4 bushel of “B” fruit from a stand on the road and head on my way.   Well worth the effort.

I still have about 1/4 bushel of Honeybells in my refrigerator from Season, and it was a late one too.  The B fruit are “Not Quite Perfect, but eat real well” so when I see them I get them in large quantities for the price.  I got these at Spykes Groves in Davie which is always a treat to go to.  Spykes sells some really beautiful trees and the “A” or “Gift Quality” Fruit as well.   If they’re carrying the Gift Boxes of Honeybells, treat yourself if you can and have a box shipped to you, you’ll be hooked like I am.

But don’t get me started on Mangos!

One more Honeybell Blossom Picture

This is what they look like close up.  I found this particular picture on the web, and I liked it.  It is in rotation on the desktop on my Windows 7 machine at work, not that I can see what is going on the desktop.

There’s a certain time of year, I think it has to be in peak Snowbird Season, February or perhaps March, when these flowers are open.  Not just on my tree next to the carport, but all over Florida.   It is hard to describe the beautiful fragrance that you get when you’re driving on any of the roads in Orange Country, generally North of Palm Beach County, South of Orlando, The Indian River Area.   When you drive in South Jersey or North Carolina, there’s a pervasive smell of Pine in the air.  In season, you get a fragrance here of Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit and other citrus.   It is simply amazing.

I have a few Oranges left on my tree still.  I got home Friday Night after driving with the roof off the car, pulled into the car port, and saw them on the tree and picked one.  It was still a little green and tasted a little more sour than it should have, but it was something you just don’t get to do too often.  There were only about 12 of them on the tree this year, better than the three from last year, but I like having the plant and the luxury of picking one, walking to the sink, biting the top and having Orange Oil make my lips pucker and the scent rush through my nostrils.  It is a caress from Nature. 

As for why I eat a Honeybell over the sink?   As it was, I had to have a bowl under the orange as I ate it, there was so very much juice running down my arm.   I actually considered once eating the thing in the shower.

Small Crop of Honeybells

What you are looking at is a cluster of Honeybell Orange Blossoms.   The smell you get from them is truly amazing.   When the tree is in bloom and healthy the yard is infused with a scent that is something to look forward.  The scent will disappear until it is time for harvest and you pick the fruit from the tree. 

The other day I managed to pick a single perfect honeybell from the tree.   If you have a fruit tree in your yard, I am sure you will agree with me, that there is almost no other pleasure that ranks so high as picking your own fruit from a tree in your yard.   I will say that also holds true when you have vegetables in the yard.   Fruit of your own Toil and so forth.

The weather we had two weeks ago is gone, my tree was affected.   I’ve got a number of leaves that yellowed due to the cold weather and were all over the yard when the wind hit it in the Sunday T-Storms we had.   The tree will survive, but if you like Orange Juice, you had better brace yourself for higher prices.  If my tree was damaged, the trees in the orchards around Fort Pierce will be much worse for the wear.

Honeybell Season started!!!!

Its Honeybell season again…

Or as my friends know, I say that in about a 48 point font screaming like Dewey Wins in that old Truman Picture from the 50s…


I managed to go out on New Years and do some shopping down in Davie/Dania at the Nurseries down there.  One of them is a great Old Florida piece of Kitsch.   They sell mostly Citrus.  Citrus Trees, “A” Fruit, “B” Fruit and Pies.   Wonderful place.   They have a relic of a stand out front of the place that looks like a giant orange that you can stand inside, or at least you could if you were selling orange juice because I have been told that is what it is for at a festival.


Honeybells are a special kind of orange that come into season here in very late December and only last until late February.  I could be a little generous with the dates, the season could be a bit shorter.  One of the first things I bought when I got the house was a proper Honeybell Tree.   It gave me four oranges last year.  Oh Boy.   This year it has about a dozen on it, but hey, I can walk outside in about a month and pick my own oranges and have a truly wonderful snack. If you read this LINK you will see that they’re a hybrid of the Tangelo, and the Minneola or Cushman Honeybell is the one to look for.  In fact, Cushman will ship you Honeybells at $2 a pop this year of Gift Quality Fruit.  I’ve had them, they’re wonderful and that is why the company that created the fruit got bought up by Harry And David’s, in most higher end malls near you…

The Honeybell orange is sweeter than whatever it is you get up north in your local markets.  They also are a bit softer due to the flesh having a higher water content than the typical navel or valencia.   When I was a snowbird, I’d go to this particular roadside nursery and get a half bushel for the vacation, and then get another one on the way back.   My sister was the beneficiary of this gift and she can tell you that these are a different flavor than what you will find in your typical orange.  Simply an amazing fruit, but horribly sloppy to eat.

Now that they’re chilled, I’m going to have some fresh squeezed honeybell juice, and boy will I enjoy them.

Sorry, Pat, if you want some you’re going to have to hunt.   The closest thing I found to a honeybell is a Tangelo.   They are good, but up north they’re just not the same.   Smaller, dryer, and not quite a sweet.   The Tangelo is a “Typical Orange” in size.  A proper Honeybell is about the size of a Grapefruit.   They can be about 1/2 pound as well, or about 250g.   That’s rather a lot for a single fruit.

And I have a half bushel in my refrigerator!