Archive for the ‘Cibolo Creek’ Category

Friday view from my fave yellow hive - we love to see a storm brewing! #bees #beekeeping #sky #texas #gretchenbeeranch

As we continue to experience growth with our bees as well as our business, the work day keeps stretching out longer and longer and then here we are in Spring already. We are happy to report that our wet winter is rolling right into a somewhat wet spring and things are about as green as we would expect to see when we visit family along the east coast. Lush grasses and trees along with a multitude of wildflowers everywhere you turn your eyes. It truly is one of the best times to be in South Texas and certainly one of the best times to be a honeybee here. EXCEPT that if we don’t get a bit of good ole sunshine soon, it might end up not being a robust honey year. While rain is awesome, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. As Mark often says, conditions have to be just right for a great honey crop. We do need rain but the bees do need a good amount of dry, sunny days in order to fly and forage. There’s a noticeable gap recently in the wildflower blooming. We had massive ways of early Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes and of course sprinklings here and there of other flowers, however, the Indian Blankets which normally appear abundantly are appearing more lazily this spring. That makes an incredible honey so we have hopes of a robust bloom in about a week. In the picture below, I harvested some lavender from our little herb garden out back. Lavender blooms abundantly only with rainfall (versus hand watering) so this is my SECOND harvest of blooms! That should tell you how wet this spring has been. I’ve never been able to harvest enough of it to do anything with the blossoms so this year I am very excited to enjoy them for a while before drying them out. They smile divine! I’m going to infuse some oil and make our own lavender oil I’ve been reading up on lately. I think I will also try adding them to lip balm, which is next on my list of beeswax related items I’ve been developing for our personal use at this time. More on that in a bit.

Harvesting lavender

Today at lunch (one of our few quiet times we have together when we’re actually sitting down), Mark and I were discussing the move of our Cibolo Creek bee hives. We haven’t been there long but we liked it – close to home (just south of Seguin and just on the other side of the county line), made great honey, gorgeous landscape for photographs and just nature enjoyment. But recently we’d notice work getting done – fences going in, land getting cleared. We like to keep in close touch with our landowners so that we know what’s going on and how it might impact our bees. Long story short, we are very happy that two options may have presented themselves today to Mark. We’re so thankful when people meet with us to check out potential bee yard locations and it all happens to work out! Mark says the new locations are both near us so that helps with fuel cost as well as with time, which we find less and less available. Both weekend days are booked now with Pearl Farmers Market (which are both well attended and have been great for our business). Serving as president of the farmers market association has also taken up a lot more of Mark’s time than we anticipated so that’s been a real challenge. And while I can manage with the other social media platforms, it’s harder and harder to find time for an in-depth post on our beloved Bee Blog. So, forgive me. But honestly if you do have access to Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, do find us. I am on there daily as it’s just easier to post pictures as we work and add a short description. Stick with us!

Well, I want to post this before it’s delayed any longer. I told Mark I have started about four times on this and it’s taking me over two weeks. LOL I am determined to get this up on the blog!!!! Take care and hope to catch up with you soon. Much love, Thien & Mark

Spring wildflowers at the Bee Ranch

This is a shot of some of our new hives Mark made up from strong hives this spring. I don’t even know what our current count is anymore for our own hives, but it’s been really wonderful to have had this spring to focus on them.


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Cibolo Creek visit

Well, I started writing this entry several days ago and at the time, it was in the upper 90s and the heat index was in the three-digit range. Roasted. Today is our third day of cloudy skies and it has drizzled or rained here and in surrounding areas enough to quench the thirsty ground a bit. It’s just nice to have something other than scorching, endless blue skies to be honest with you. It’s one thing to be at the coast and have that but when I’m not near water, I don’t like 100+ temperatures. 🙂

So while I was accompanying Mark on yard visits on the rare Saturday we had off last week, I did what I love to do – watch the bees and take pictures. I love to see what they are doing, what they are bringing in, what they are doing at their entrances or in their homes when Mark opens the lid on a hive. The top picture is one of the gentle hives out at Cibolo Creek. I wore my hat, veil and gloves because I knew i wanted to get right up to the entrances but I soon saw that I didn’t even need my gloves as they were paying me no mind whatsoever. I only kept my veil on as I was squatting with my face a few inches from the entrance. I just had to shoot the bees fanning. I love it when they do that. Below is one of the videos I captured to share with y’all. Hear their buzzing? It’s amazingly loud once you get right up on them. This is one of the things bees do in order to cool their hives when it is as hot as it was. Can you imagine giving yourself, your energy, for your clan in that way? Standing at the entrance of your home, flapping your wing non-stop in order to deliver cool air into the home? I can’t imagine the fatigue factor. I wonder if that can be studied somehow. I wonder how tiring it might be for the honeybee to do this. Anyway, I just wanted to show you what bees do to help cool their homes. They maintain a pretty constant temperature in there, about 90F degrees in summer and winter as well. It takes a lot of water, energy and healthy wings to do this. Just another thing about the bees that totally fascinates me!

In other news, Mark installed twelve of the twenty Olivarez queens that we received last week. That’s a lot in one day and a big improvement in efficiency for queen installation! Here is a shot he sent today. This is one of the new divides he made last week. Those hives have sat queenless for several days now and today he use the Direct Introduction Method and placed the queens in their new homes. Hopefully all hives will accept their new queens. In this shot, he is holding the queen cage right before he pulls off the screen and releases queenie directly onto the frames. In the past, he would place the cage among the frames so the bees could adjust to the new queen sent but now, since they’ve had a short period of time with no queen and therefore no scent, they simply accept their new queen right away. It’s worked quite well for us here and we are very glad we learned of it. This is what he does – research, read, learn, do, share.

Using the Direct Introduction Method we learned recently, 12 of 20 Olivarez queens installed today.

Mark originally read about the new method of queen introduction on Emily Heath’s Adventuresinbeeland’s blog. Emily had introduced us to this new method when she posted about a talk she attended by Professor Ratnieks, Professor of Apiculture at the University of Surrey. She, like Mark, continued learning about the professor’s research at the University of Sussex and one click led to another and here we are…installing queens into our divides using a method we happened across through another beekeeper’s blog across the big pond. Mark followed up with emails and requests for additional information from the university and they generously shared with him. Isn’t it amazing where life takes you?!

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