Archive for the ‘Rattlesnake’ Category

No, we didn’t do the Biggest Small Town Parade and we didn’t watch fireworks down at Starcke Park. We have done those things plenty during Mark’s tenure with the City of Seguin. No, instead we picked up David in Marion and headed to the JW Marriott yard to pull supers. Had a really great time with Ryan, Bethany and Brett as usual. They helped up pull supers that were ready for harvesting and continued learning about beekeeping and their hives there at the resort. The bees did fine this year and built up strong enough to produce a decent amount of honey. We used Bee Robber to push the bees out of the supers and I’m always fascinated with the speed at which they exit the hive. Pretty cool so I shot a brief video at our second stop – Rattlesnake yard. Meanwhile, here’s a shot of Ryan and Brett taking a turn at examining the bees at the entrance.

Ryan next to the boxes

We got Brett to run his hands through the bunch – no stings. Good job, Brett!

Brett goes in a second time

Next it was back towards Marion and a pit stop (no pun intended) at the Rattlesnake yard to pick up quite a load of what ended up being my favorite honey – MESQUITE. The reason I say it that way is because we took the supers home and started extracting. After we got through with David’s honey supers, we hit Rattlesnake and then did a taste test after bottling a jar. I knew as soon as I tasted it that it was Mesquite. The men took several more tastes before concluding that it is predominantly Mesquite with a touch of Wildflower. Even better for my allergies. Excellent. We didn’t finish all the boxes on the fourth but we did make great progress. This evening Mark and I headed out there to do some more work after his long day as a library administrator in the midst of budget time. Doesn’t sound as fun as honey extraction if you ask me but I haven’t done the budget task so I may not be the best judge on this.

My reward for working late tonight was a taste of some of the most divine honey I have tasted this year – our first Bexar County Wildflower Honey. WOW. Mark’s reaction to the flavor was enough to get me to slip out of my glove to take a sample for myself and I am so glad I did. It was awesome! When we placed the hives at the Marriott, we told ourselves that we’d be happy if they all just survived. And if they made honey, that’d be bonus. But if they didn’t, we wouldn’t be disappointed. We just weren’t sure what they would feed on out there. Well, whatever it was, I hope it blooms again next year and that our little girls make even more. Every drop of this honey has already been sold to JW Marriott but it shows us that there is good honey to be made there in Bexar County…no telling where the next yard will be.

Extracting Marriott Wildflower

If you’d like to view the full set of JW Marriott photos, you can check our set on Flickr. There’s even a short video of our time there.

We have a Rattlesnake Bee Yard photo set as well and the short video of bees exiting the hive is in that set.

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Rattlesnake yard harvest

“It’s a LOT of honey.” This is what I have heard Mark say about 23 times in the last month and it tickles me each time because I think of the shortage last year and how so many people didn’t even get any honey out of their hives. This year is so totally opposite and it’s wonderful. Everything is thriving and abundant – from rain to fields to animals to us. Isn’t it great?

I went with Mark, David and Ira to one bee yard this morning and then I fixed them lunch while they unloaded the load they hauled in just from Rattlesnake – and amazing 1000 pounds (estimate)! And it sure does taste good. Here’s the honey house after the men brought back supers from Big Oaks and Nash Creek bee yards. We are loaded and we hope the floor withstands all the weight! Seriously.

Stacks and stacks of honey

Here’s a look at some of the frames in the 20-frame extractor this evening. I was too hot and sticky to want to get in a bee suit or other protective gear so I would pop in and out of the honey house to check on progress and to snap a few pictures. There wasn’t a lot of room in there so I didn’t want to stay too long for several reasons but mainly because I didn’t want to be in the way of either beekeeping crew or bees. Once a little one landed on the back of my neck, I was out of there and back inside to listen/watch the Spurs lose (again in OK) and to edit and load my hundred or so pictures. I am so happy I got to tag along to Rattlesnake this morning – best

Honey frames in extractor 2

And most of all, I go out to check on my beekeeper because I miss him when we aren’t together. Love to see him so happy. 🙂

A tired but happy beekeeper

If you would like to see my full set of photos from this year’s harvesting event, you can visit our Flickr set for 2012 Honey & Harvest. I will continue to add pictures as we proceed with harvesting the rest of our yards.

Next up – the MESQUITE is blooming so you know what that means! My favorite honey hopefully!

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In the hive 24

Okay, so you are probably wondering why everyone’s looking at their finger, right? 🙂 One of the joys of keeping our hives gentle with out-of-state queens is that we can have class with little worry about people getting the backyard bees worked up too much. Sometimes we have to urge our students to keep their veils and gloves on as they just get real comfortable around the bees. It probably doesn’t help that Mark and I are minimally veiled. Once in a while a bee may get irritated but I usually just step away a bit until she leaves me alone. If not, I just add a veil and gloves. Back to the picture – now that the bees are making honey, the students got to taste some honey straight from the frame. That was unexpected and very fun I think. I know I enjoyed it when Mark let me do that the first time at Gonzales bee yard. Yum. Nothing like tasting fresh honey straight from the frame. If you’re really lucky, your beekeeper gives you a bit of honeycomb that the bees built off the frame. This is me trying to save the honeycomb that was falling off the hive tool out at Rattlesnake bee yard. I saved it but I managed to get honey all on my hand. I must be the messiest bee yard visitor ever. Mark and David just broke off some honeycomb and popped it in their mouths no problem. I always end up with sticky fingers and then I discover I also got honey in my hair or on my shirt.

Messy me but I had to try that honey

Back to class – here is a shot of our session inside the honey house, where we discuss the extraction process and also get to do a honey tasting. We don’t normally get many photos of this portion of class because it’s hard for me to move around when we have more than five students. Plus I have that height challenge. But we managed and we had a great time. As always, people had great questions and discussion was awesome. The best part is getting into the hive for some hands-on time. I really liked how comfortable everyone was during this portion of class. Though we didn’t get to see the queen during class, we did get to see some great frames of pollen in addition to the honey. No mites seen, which is good. No beetles either. The students got to handle a super so they can feel the average weight of a honey-laden box. I enjoy the classes because I never know when Mark is going to throw in something new that he hadn’t done before in class. Love it.

Honey house 2

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Rattlesnake yard 2

We made it to Sunday night. 🙂 If you asked me that Friday night, I’m not sure what I would have told you. It was a whirlwind, crazy-busy kind of week and I’m only now catching up on photo editing, uploading and blogging. There’s still more pictures I need to look over from our Friday visits to two schools and the wonderful Lily’s Cookies bakery so I will post about those things as well as about Mark’s second visit to JW Marriott Resort later this week.

Meanwhile, I can tell you it was great to get some rest today and to catch up on house chores. We also got out to two yards in Marion, a small town just about fifteen minutes from here. Lots of pretty flowers and green pastures out there to admire along the way. The picture above is of Rattlesnake Bee Yard. For some reason, I often mistype it as Rattlesnack. I must always be thinking of food. Mark says it’s because I’m thinking of fried rattlesnake. Yikes. [Just so you know, I mistyped it again in the last sentence and Mark told me not to correct it but the editing maniac in me made me do it.]

This bee yard is doing amazingly well and the girls are busy with their honey flow. Look at the beautiful frames below (hopefully next visit I will get a better shot for you all) and the nice chunk of honeycomb Mark saved for the three of us as a sample. At first I resisted because I didn’t want to get out of my gloves or under my veil but Mark brought it to the truck and away from the bees so I could try it. H-E-A-V-E-N. Those girls are making a beautiful, light-color honey that tasted amazing. We were all so excited you would have thought it was Christmas again. Mark and David put on additional supers on a few of the hives and they’ll check them again soon to make sure they give the girls more supers as needed. If you have never tasted honey directly from a frame, you are really missing out my friends. So, to all you new beekeeping friends of ours out there…here’s to a great season and harvest. We hope you get to sample honey from your frames and bees this year! If you can help them stay strong so they can do their thing, then you’ll deserve to sample their honey.

Gorgeous capped over frames of honey

We also went to a yard that is yet unnamed – it’s a single hive right now but David is thinking of adding more to it. It’s on his family’s leased property and there’s clover on it so they want to see how the bees do there. Looked like they were doing just fine – lots of bees and lots of activity. Today was used as a check and also a clean-up day for the yards. David trimmed things back so that we don’t encourage any visits from snakes of any sort. By the way, I caught myself typing snacks rather than snakes. I must not like snakes as my fingers refuse to spell it correctly the first time each time. Snake snake snake snake. That was challenging.

Hive against blue sky

Okay, we also had a busy yesterday! Two events in one day after a long week of running around meant a lot could and did happen to derail us a bit. But it didn’t keep us down thanks to our friends. We had our first Trade Days down on the square so our friend Jessica helped me out while Mark and David had Intro to Beekeeping here at the Bee Ranch. It was a hectic day that started out with neither of us hearing the alarm at 6:30a so we didn’t get up until 7:22a. 🙂 Good thing we loaded up the night before! We got down there and broke the double tent (blasted thing always was a pain) and then Mark couldn’t track down his wallet for a while. And later his keys. And then a very nice couple came by the booth, after Mark had joined us on the square, and told us our door was ajar at home. See what I mean? Crazy day. But we survived and we could do nothing but laugh and shake our heads during it all. I’m so glad we can just roll with things. It’s stressful enough to work full-time and work your own business without acting crazy while you’re doing it. Good thing we are both pretty calm people and our bee hands are also.

First Trade Days of 2012

I snapped all these pictures with my iPhone and the last one had a filter applied to it from an app called Tadaa. I love that the 8-megapixel camera on the phone allows me to take great pictures as well as immediately edit some of them with mostly free apps. I love my Nikon but it is a heavy beast to lug around. iPhone goes in the back pocket and can be operated with one hand. Nice.

I see it’s 10:03p. Wonder if we might get to bed at a decent hour tonight. That’d be great. And funny that something like that can get me really excited. A girl needs her beauty rest, after all.

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