Arbutus unedo, commonly called Strawberry Tree, Apple of Cain, or Cane Apple, is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the family Ericaceae, native to the Mediterranean region. Lots of them grow here in Tuscany. The trees blossoms very late from the end of autumn during winter. The white blossoms are rich in nectar and therefore bees really take to them. Honey produced during the blooming season of the Strawberry Tree has a aromatic and somewhat bitter flavor and is considered precious. This honey is a great served together with aged Italian cheeses, especially aged Pecorino cheese from Sardinia.
Unfortunately for gourmets quite often the Strawberry Trees blossom so deeply into winter and rather low temperatures, that bees do not fly any more, and none of the precious honey is produced. But that is fortunate for the bumble bees who are able to fly even at very low temperatures and flock in big numbers to the blossoming Strawberry Trees to harvest the nectar of their blossoms.
I took this photo today, on the first day of 2012 at lunchtime.