The biggest challenge is protecting the bees from disease and parasites that can destroy an entire colony.
And then, there is uncertainty about the weather. If it's too dry, the blossoms don't produce nectar; strong winds can knock the blossoms off the trees; and if there are too many rainstorms, the bees can't gather the nectar. Plus, after the tupelo trees finish blooming, the bees go on to gather nectar from other trees and plants which produces an inferior honey. This can also contaminate the tupelo honey if it is not removed in time.
In a good year, the Laniers can harvest up to a hundred 50-gallon barrels of tupelo honey. And,this honey can cost up to $20 a pound because of limited production and the labor involved. White tupelo trees grow in abundance only in the wetlands of the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia.
Ben Lanier's expertise was used in the movie "Ulee's Gold" when he and his wife taught actor Peter Fonda how to handle bees. The family's bee yards were used in filming locations and Fonda was stung at least once.
Ben has been stung many times but doesn't wear gloves or protective gear and only a veil over his head when moving hives or harvesting the honey. There is a picture in the article of Ben holding a tray of some sort that was full of bees. I sure wouldn't do that.
I checked out their website and their honey sure is expensive, but I'm still going to get some (and I'm not a big honey fan).
Give Me the Honey!! --RoadDog