What are Honeybell Oranges?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Honeybell oranges are exceptionally sweet and juicy citrus fruits that only reach peak ripeness during the month of January. Also known as Minneola tangelos, they are not actually oranges at all. They are a hybrid or cross between the Darcy variety of tangerine and either the Duncan or Bowen variety of grapefruit. This hybridization process, which some sources say can be traced back to ancient Asia, yields a tangelo with the coloring and size of a grapefruit and the sweetness and juiciness of a tangerine. The fruit is prized for its sweetness and relative scarcity, along with its abundant supply of juice.

Honeybell oranges are most readily available in January.
Honeybell oranges are most readily available in January.

Many customers order Honeybell oranges well in advance of their actual due date in January. A few strains may be ready to ship in late December, but the majority of the crop reaches maximum ripeness during the last weeks of January, or possibly early February. Virtually all Honeybell trees in the United States grow along the Indian River in Florida, and the crop yield is often regarded as unpredictable from year to year. Growers take orders for the oranges throughout the year, but can only harvest the crop during the late winter. Great care must be taken while harvesting the fruit in order to avoid damaging the distinctively bell-shaped stem end, which actually inspired the name for the fruit itself.

It takes two average sized Honeybell oranges to produce a full glass of freshly squeezed juice.
It takes two average sized Honeybell oranges to produce a full glass of freshly squeezed juice.

It is not unusual for a citrus grower to include a bib with larger orders. The skin is fairly loose because of the hybridization process, but many people find eating the fruit to be a challenge because of its juiciness. Consuming them while on the move would be nearly impossible. Many people recommend using a knife to cut out individual sections and a plate to capture excess juices. Two average sized Honeybell oranges can provide nearly a full glass of freshly squeezed juice.

The fruit can be ordered online, directly from commercial orchards or through catalogs that offer packages of citrus fruit as potential gift items. It is generally hand-packed into special protective containers in order to prevent damage during shipping. The relative rarity of the variety and the special harvesting and handling requirements can make Honeybells significantly more expensive than other selections, but most people who have experienced the fruit's sweetness consider it a worthwhile investment.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


On my visit to Florida 12 years ago, I brought home two little Honeybell orange trees. They live in Maine and are outdoors in the summer and in a sunroom in the cold months. So I enjoy honeybells with no expense. They are super.


Oh wow Never thought a simple orange could get so much fame. I just partook in the consumption of the specimen that you all speak of. Honestly I don't know why I am even wasting my time typing this. But anyhow it was not that fascinating at all. Love and peace to all! --Fury Chicken


Anon62917: Do you have a link to that study?

Anon252773: I just received a gift from Harry & Davids supplied by Cushman's. They were outstanding.

I'd like to find a definitive answer on interactions with statins and thyroid meds though.


I purchase my honeybells from Hale Groves in fruit baskets which are fresh!


I always spend the first two weeks of the New Year in Okeechobee and always grab honeybells to eat while I'm there, and ship a bushel back home to Indiana.

This year the grove operator gave us a couple of navels and when we got home (to Okeechobee), my brother and I each ate half a Honeybell and half of a navel.

That's when I truly noticed how much better the honeybells were. I have always thought they were the best orange on earth (even though, technically they are not even an orange), but this side-by-side taste-test proved it.

They are only available for a few weeks in January but if you've never had the pleasure of sampling one, I strongly suggest you check them out. The best fruit of any kind on the planet!


I always get my Honeybells from Al's Family Farms. Just received my Christmas shipment yesterday. They are amazing as always!


Where do you buy Honeybells?


Don't order from Cushmans! The oranges were dry and not very sweet or flavorful. Also,they don't respond to their customer service e-mails.


I take a lot of medication and wonder about the interaction with this fruit. Is it safe?


When my mother wintered in Florida, I discovered Honeybells. This year, I received notice from Hale Groves that my sister had ordered Honeybells for me. They arrived last Friday. What a disappointment!

Most have no similarity to my memory of what they should look like. I have eaten three; two were easy to peel; but that is the only similarity. Very little juice with the flavor of a pithy orange.


I bought a honeybell last week at the Amish Market just to taste one and went back this week to get six of them. I really like how juicy they are and how easy they are to peel. I had never heard of them until I saw them on qvc and was surprised when I saw them at the Amish Market.


Just bought two big bags of HB blems, $6 bag or about 35 cents each. Try Hale's Groves in Vero Beach.


I'm from England and winter in mid Florida. We have a Honeybell tree in our back yard and on Saturday I picked some of them and squeezed out nearly four gallons of juice. Man, they are juicy and we'll be freezing a lot of it.

I was then concerned by the implications of drinking the juice as I take 80mg of Lipitor daily but this article and others would suggest it's OK. I do hope so!

Still plenty left on the tree for y'all!


are they safe to eat while taking entocort and azothiaprine?


I never heard of Honey Bell oranges. But now I have to buy some and try them. Where is the best place to order these? Thanks for any suggestions.


Honeybells are truly amazing and spoil you from wanting any other type of orange.


Absolutely the best "orange" I've tasted in the past thirty years! I was able to buy several dozen in late April and early May this year. Can't wait 'til next January to try them "fresher."


I received Honeybell oranges for Christmas (well after Christmas) and this is my first time. I thought they were absolutely fabulous. I would eat one every day, if I could afford to.


To answer anon58480, who posted question about are they safe in drug interactions

consider the following:

One study so far has shown that unlike grapefruit, interactions with statins are not likely with tangelos, even though it is derived from a grapefruit crossed with a tangerine. This is apparently because the furocoumarins in grapefruit are not expressed in tangelos. Due to this, some reactions are temporary.

A USDA report, publication number 175059, has more information.


Is there a danger in eating honeybells while taking blood pressure medication since the honeybell is a cross between a grapefruit and tangerine?


I have enjoyed Honeybell oranges for the past three years as a gift. They are like no other orange. Everything they were advertised to be! I plan to order them again for the fourth time. Once you have a honeybell orange, all others are are just a plain old orange. If I can locate the company in Florida I shall post it here.


I first found honeybell oranges while visiting in Florida many years ago. I could never find them in the stores as honeybells, but now that I know they go by another name, I will be looking for them. It will be a real treat to have them again.


Thanks to the Honeybell Information Society. I hope this has done much for demand!


I was not familiar with this type of orange, but thanks to this article, it seems like a fruit worth trying. I will be looking for them in January. The high end stores, I would imagine, would carry them.

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