> Danger: Live Bees May 20 2012

My favorite time in the bee yard is is late afternoon, from the vantage point of an empty, overturned hive box or bucket. Low, golden light illuminates the little bodies of our honeybees, hurtling themselves to and from the hive, intent on their purpose.

While beekeeping sounds romantic, it's actually a lot of work, and beekeeping wisdom is only learned the hard way.

For example, don't wear rings while beekeeping. This particular lesson, pictured in the making at right, happened last summer. It was a small sting, just on the tip of the finger, but by the time I got home it was too late.

A frantic call to my doctor resulted in taking Benadryl for the allergic reaction and ibuprofen for the inflammation. Another frantic call to a firefighter friend (also a beekeeper) included practical advice too.

"If you need to cut the ring off, come here to the station instead of to the ER," he said. "It won't hurt, but it might be traumatic."

Lucky for you, you don't have to endure this fear-factor nonsense to enjoy pure, raw honey. This is our busiest time of year, as the Southeast comes alive in the sunshine and rain.

In fact, hopefully very soon we'll have a big announcement — that our 2012 Spring Honey is ready to order!

It will be full of light, sweet nectar from early spring fruit trees, rogue blackberry blossoms and country privet. There even will be a touch of the elusive black locust tree.

And, in case you were wondering, I don't wear rings anymore while beekeeping. Last summer, I felt lucky to lose neither my finger nor my ring, so I won't repeat that mistake twice.

It also might help to wear gloves.