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Archive for the ‘flight’ Category

Bees at entrance

Well, here we are into November and there’s only 5.5 more Mondays until Christmas. Yikes! I might as well cover the next two months in case I don’t have a chance to post until 2016!

Today it is once again cloudy as our slightly rainy period began about a month ago. Prior to that we were bone dry and our ground had severe cracks all over the yard. I shot the above photo several weeks ago on a Saturday morning during our Honey Store hours. The bees were flying like crazy after a rain spell and they brought in such beautiful and bright pollen – it’s always so awesome to see them like this. Amazing and mesmerizing to me.

Beekeeping supplies

On the Honey House front, we have lots going on as we shift our focus more on all the new things we want to do and offer at the Bee Ranch. Our beekeeping supplies and equipment have really grown and we’ve even added a storage container in order to make more room inside for new things arriving weekly. We now have everything a new or an experienced beekeeper might need – from bee gear (suit, gloves, etc.) to bee equipment (extractors, smokers, bee brushes, etc.). Need a book about beekeeping? We have it. Need some frames? Got it. Can’t decide which smoker you want to buy? We have two and we can talk about which one Mark likes best and why. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to explore new products and to share what works for us and why with new beekeepers. We’ve been able to conduct more classes than in the past several years and we love that! You know we both like to help others and we both enjoy teaching. And of course, we both love to talk bees and honey so this is really becoming a dream come true for us – sharing what we love right at the Bee Ranch, which we love so much and love to share with visitors. We hope to see you sometime soon!

Happy to be home and working on new products!

On the Bee Crafts front, we have a lot going on as usual. It’s amazing what we keep learning and our biggest desire most of the time is that we have more time to explore, learn, try and try again! haha I’ve been reading up on bee crafts such as body and home care for about a year and have been experimenting with different products the past six months. Mark and I are so excited to have three new products we are rolling out: our first lip balm, a traveling tea light, and a tin of sweet tea lights for a delicate way to ease into cold temperatures and before we bring out the big pillars to warm up the house. We are working to get things listed on the website so be patient a little longer and give us about two or three weeks to get everything up and running! Meanwhile, here are some sneak peeks in case you don’t follow us on all the other social media outlets where I typically share day-to-day work. Enjoy and talk to you soon, I promise. There are some new workshops we are hosting at the Bee Ranch every Saturday starting in a couple weeks and I will definitely need to post the topics here. Free and open to all during our shop hours.

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

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Took two days but we now have two new bee yards in Medina County – counting on some delicious Huajilla Honey as part of this year’s honey crop. If we could just get some rain, the bees would just go crazy we think. But still, there are some things already in bloom, especially in our new D’Hanis location (calling them Comanche Creek #1 and #2 since they are on the Comanche Creek Ranch). Mark shot this video after he and Stan finished setting up the bees in the #2 location. He said the bees were really going to town on the blooms, many of which have yet opened. Cool! And he also said that it was wonderfully peaceful out there. Quiet. That’s cool, too. Can’t wait to see it. By the way, this plant is truly called a Twisted Acacia. I love that! Makes me think of that band Twisted Sisters. Not that I was a fan of theirs but I always thought it was a funny band name. I think they had big hair. Random non-bee information for you.

In other news, it was so nice to be back market. It had been two weeks so we were missing everyone. Great to see all our friends and loyal customers. The honey house is still a vision. There’s almost no movement on it from the perspective of getting the land title in our hands before we start building. And it seems every action equals more money out of pocket. We know it will happen. Just not yet. Also, looks like we’ll be moving our operation out of one of our current locations. Will tell you more about that when the time is right but it is a lot of work to move bees and stored equipment out while you’re also trying to gear up the bees for the upcoming burst of spring (we hope, anyway). Some of the challenges of working for yourselves.

On the brighter side of things, we have an appointment to visit with a friend so we can see if her space that could be for rent would work as a temporary harvest/extraction site for this year since we have no honey house. We know the amount of space is more than sufficient but we need to see about lighting (which we could bring in), electricity (definitely need that) and water (we can bring a hot water heater if necessary). Please cross your fingers and say a prayer we find something that will work. We’ll be up a serious creek if we can’t nail down something workable before the REALLY busy time starts soon. 🙂 If you know of anything (affordable or free even), please keep us in mind. Thanks!

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Nuc bees in flight

After a long, cold, soaking ride from Florida to Texas…the girls are home! We got them to Big Oaks with enough light left for Stan and Mark to unload all one hundred nucs. What a relief to get them off the trailer and set on their new homes. After they get settled a bit, Mark goes back out to transfer the frames into the boxes and then feeds them a supplement to give them a little boost – sort of like a welcome party for the newcomers. 🙂 I loved hearing them buzz – so glad they survived the ride. We drove through some pretty rough weather – tornado warning and all the excitment that goes along with that (like a tree falling across the interstate due to the totally soaked ground, which we wouldn’t know about here in Texas). To see them flying was so thrilling! They were spilling out of the nuc boxes when Mark and Stan opened them up. Also fun was to watch them do their first flight right in front of their hives in order to get oriented. After that, they just take off and do their foraging thing.

I am still working on loading more pictures but it’ll take another day or two to finish. We had to get caught up on orders we got while traveling, not to mention all the house stuff (like groceries) and so on. Life. It’s just packed! But not too packed to enjoy these lovely sights – the Huisache is about to really burst with blooms everywhere. It’s so gorgeous.

Blooming Huisache

But here’s my favorite treasure that I spied while wandering around snapping photos:

Bird Nest in Huisache

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Broom weed at Pizza Yard

First stop – Pizza Yard! It’s been a while since I accompanied Mark to bee yards for more than just a quick drop-off or pick up of queens or observation hive bees. And today was the perfect fall day to go with him to release the Heitkam queens in our two Gonzales bee yards. As you can see, things are sort of brown but there is still a good amount of broom weed and other yellow flowers that the bees are feasting upon right now. I saw some very bright pollen being carried into the hives when Mark opened them up. Though the day was lovely for us (in the 60s and bright and sunny with a nippy breeze), it was not too great for the bees I think. The cool breeze is not their favorite thing. Imagine trying to regulate your hive to a lovely 90 degrees only to have some beekeeper open it up to release a queen. Huh. And speaking of queens, an interesting thing happened to the one in Pizza yard – she was dead when Mark checked on her! It doesn’t happen often he says, but it does happen so he’ll have to go back with another queen. Then it was off to the original Gonzales bee yard to release four queens there. That was an exciting pit stop!

HIpstamatic beekeeper 4

Looks lovely, doesn’t it? I used a phone app called Hipstamatic on that shot, by the way. Still one of my favorite yards, I always enjoy going with Mark. Didn’t see the horses this time but saw other interesting things. For example…

…a beautifully capped frame of fall honey. Nice! I shot a short video of the bees drinking up the honey so I’ll try and load it to YouTube before bed but no promises. It may wait till tomorrow at the rate I’m typing tonight. [Side note: how did it get to be past 11p??]

Frame of honey at Gonzales yard

…a really cool frame with multiple queen cells, all of which Mark got rid of since we don’t want them making their own queens. They’re feisty enough here in Texas.

Queen cells 2

And while there are no good pictures to share, there were a few exciting, intense moments for us as the last hive was quite agitated (and in need of requeening, it appears). Right before Mark told me I should get in the truck, I had a sinking feeling something was crawling on me. Under my jacket. 😦 Not good. Thank goodness for Mark! He’s ever so calm and patient. He went with me as I continued to pray the little bee wouldn’t sting me. I could feel her for sure now and I tried really hard to calmly take off my veil and jacket. Mark lifted my t-shirt sleeve just as I felt the beginnings of a sharp jab (for lack of a better descriptor) and she flew up. Right into my hair where she got a little tangled it sounded like. My sweet man caught her and killed her. I was so relieved. I really didn’t want to get all swollen and more than that, I really don’t like to be out of commission and miss out on any fun. Thank you, my love! Unfortunately, they got after Mark a bit and a few managed to get under his veil. He walked away once I saw and then he came back since you have to finish the job. He closed up the hive as I watched and marveled at the way the bees flew around him. You can definitely tell the difference in flight pattern and behavior if you watch our usually gentle bees versus this agitated hive. Nothing like bees smacking into my veil as a warning to get me into the truck. 🙂 We are okay though poor Mark is quite swollen under one eye. It also seems to wear him out a bit more when stung on the face he says. I think I saw a sting on his neck also.

Luckily for us, we had a nice, relaxing social gathering to attend in order to get to know some of our new friends from the Pearl market. Had a lovely, lovely time and even enjoyed a cozy fire outside now that it is cool enough to enjoy it. Minus mosquitos. Score!

Lovely evening for a fire out

Thank you for a lovely day, honey bee! I love it when we get to spend an entire day together. This weekend was a busy one and we had to split up in order to cover two simultaneous events in Seguin and San Antonio. While we love working with Lan and Stan, we miss working together when we spilt. So here’s to next weekend when we’re both at the Pearl at the same time! 🙂

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In the hive 10

Hi everyone. This week has been filled with lots of different activities – from visiting a friend’s garden property to our class today with sales and visits in between as well emails and so on. We had a great class this morning despite it being a bit on the chilly side. It has been a long time since we had a cozy class of six. A small class allows for more personal conversation, getting to know each other. Thanks for joining us, folks! In the picture above, Mark was able to show the students a lot of things in the hive today, including the process through which he counts mites. On this board, they were able to see a beetle (squished after show and tell), beetle larvae and mites that had been groomed off the bees. Nice!

Me at Mike's Altwein Farm

Speaking of class, in the above photo, we visited with Mike, a former student, at his nearby garden, half-way between Seguin and New Braunfels. Always a great time visiting with Mike – he is so enthusiastic about things he does and he has marvelous gardens. The vegetables he sends back with us are amazing! We are thrilled to work with him to get hives on his gardens in the near future.

David & Mark discuss an upcoming event

Finally, I wanted to share a shot I particularly like of David and Mark as they plan the takeover of the world through bees and honey. 🙂 They are so fun and I knew they were out at the Farm yard Friday afternoon so I hoped over there after work to catch a bit of the great outdoors before it got too dark. The bees were really flying these days and that’s wonderful to see.

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queen on hive box outside

Yesterday Mark saw something unusual on one of the backyard hives so he went to check it out and saw this funny little cluster of bees on the side of the box. Can you see what I didn’t see at first?

A big ole queen!

queen on branch backyard

She’s an extra and we’re not sure where she came from because our two hives have their queens – spotted during the Saturday morning class. So hmmm….Mark thinks perhaps she got lost during a mating flight or something. Wouldn’t it be neat to have that bee-cam on the bees? 🙂

So, we kept pretty busy this past weekend between the bee biz and church. I don’t think we’ve ever been this busy in our lives with work and personal lives and now they are so intertwined. We love what we’re doing with GBR and we love that good feeling at night when rest finally comes…sometimes we’re so tired, I fall asleep while we talk. And sometimes we can’t sleep because we are so excited about all the opportunities we’ve been presented with since we started doing this. What a blessing our life is!

Saturday we did split work with David and Mark working the bee class here at that Bee Ranch. They had a good class – nice and full at about 13 or 14. I’ve got to load and fix pictures and then get them loaded so thanks for your patience, everyone! Meanwhile, a few miles away, my friend Jessica worked the booth with me at the Elks Lodge Christmas Crafts Fair – their first one. We had a lovely time together. 🙂 There were, however, only about 23 vendors there, not the 30 we thought were signed up for the event. While we sure appreciate the customers who did stop by to make purchases, we were surprised by the very low turnout (if there was a total of 50 customers that day, then I’d be surprised). So, we are sorry if any of you read my post on Facebook saying there’d be 30 local merchants at the event and then you decided to trek out there. We were just sharing the information we were given. Live and learn! Along with most of the other vendors, we’re not likely to do another event like that unless we know what the anticipated crowd/attendance will be. It’d be one thing if it was me and Mark working the booth (we don’t have to pay ourselves!). But when you have to pay two contractors to work the events and then you don’t make enough sales because of low attendance at the main event of the day…well, you lose money. We can’t afford too many of those lessons so let’s hope for a big turnout at Yulefest coming up the first Sunday in December (that’s right around the corner!).

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I was surprised to get a call for removing a swarm of bees at a local nursing home this week. I’m not sure why a colony would swarm during the hottest, driest part of the summer, but there they were. Swarming is usually nature’s way of making additional bee colonies. In fact, sometimes you hear old-time beekeepers call it “artificial swarming” when they divide their hives. This swarm was about 15 feet from the ground. From the bed of the truck I stood on a chair. With one hand I reached up to pull the branch down to the hive box that I held up in my other hand, then with one hard shake of the limb the bees fell straight into the box. I took them right away to the Mill Creek bee yard and fed them. They seemed happy when I left but I’ll go back and check on them next week.

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