Archive for the ‘break’ Category

June requeen Pizza

It has been cloudy and cold all day to ring in the new year and of course, that makes Mark long for the summer sun so he asked me to post a picture of a typical summer day here in South Texas. What better representation than our Pizza Bee Yard out towards Gonzales, which is east of Seguin about an hour. We hope you have been enjoying the holiday season as much as we have this year. It’s been a big year for us and we were happy to be busy but also happy to have had a little rest the past couple of days. It feels as if we’ve been moving at 95 miles per hour non-stop since….spring perhaps. We were blessed to have my dad and brother visit from Florida – loved showing them the markets and work we do and they also seemed to enjoy their time with us and Lan. Lots of fun and now missing them as things quieted down again around the house.

With a break from my other full time job, I was so happy last week to be outside with Mark at a bee yard again. It has been a while and I really didn’t want to miss out on the almost perfect day – look at that blue sky! It was absolutely gorgeous out that day last week. Air was dry and crisp though a bit windy. We waited until it hit the 60s and then we went out to Nash Creek. The bees like that area and produced good honey there this year so we’re looking forward to seeing how they do next season. It’s a small yard so we’ll be looking to grow in hive number though likely in a different Nash Creek location. Not sure where yet. The hives looked robust though there was one slightly lackluster one that Mark fed in hopes of reviving it. We sure needed rain and thankfully we finally got some rain to welcome in the new year. Yay for the bees! Let’s pray for more rain. We’re going to need more if we’re going to have another booming honey harvest in 2013.

Nash Creek yard check 2

Here’s one of our lovely and quite large queens Mark let me spot in one of the hives. I like to keep in good practice with picking out the queens, especially when they are not marked.

Nash Creek yard check 6

After we checked on the bees, we dropped off some equipment for storage at The Farm yard. Plus Mark wanted to check on the new Hansvold bees he and Stan picked up a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a panoramic shot of where we store some of our equipment during winter months.

Storage area at The Farm yard

And on the same property but on the other side of the road, we have the little nursery where the Hansvold bees will remain until spring. At that time, we’ll either move them into other yards or we’ll sell some of them. They did so well for us last year and we were really pleased to be able to get some more of them to add to our apiary.

The Farm Nursery 3

One more shot just because I just love the Century Cacti that grow around here. 🙂

The Farm Nursery 7

And finally, I want to send a special hello to our my sweet friend Mary of NC – hi Mary! We finally got your wonderful card, sweet girl. Thank you for thinking of us here at the Bee Ranch. We can’t wait to see you later this month!

Enjoy the new year, friends! And bee safe. [Sorry, couldn’t resist that.]

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Mark & bees

Hi everyone! After a lovely week in Florida with my side of the family, we are back home just in time to wrap up 2011 and to ring in the new year ahead of us. Today was a lovely day to come back to – perfect warmth with a slight nip in the air. Lots of sun, which means the bees in the back yard were flying pretty well when we checked on them. Mark said they were even bringing in some pollen. That’s always nice to see. We missed them during our short week away. 🙂

We had a few calls, a few emails and a few online orders this week. Can’t beat that. Running our business is hard but it’s also nice when you can take a bit of a break and still manage to do some business on the road. Technology is great for that. Back to the Bee Ranch today – those emails we received were from people wanting to stop by for honey and/or candles so we opened up the honey house as soon as we got home so that we can air it out a bit. Cranked up the wax melter and by tomorrow we should be pouring some more beeswax products. Got an order for 80 1-oz bars while we were gone so we are excited to get that filled. Some friends also stopped by to visit and pick up some honey. It’s always great to see our friends, especially from a distance away. We love to show them what we’re doing and how things work in the honey house. And we’re always happy when they have great questions and want to know more about beekeeping. Neither Mark nor I ever seem to tire of talking with people about these things.

Talking extraction with friends

Of course, Smokey welcomed us back and seemed right at home with our visitors, as usual. It’s nice when things are as they always are sometimes. As we look forward to the new year ahead, we were thinking back to all the wonderful adventures and beginnings we’ve had with our business in 2011. We sure couldn’t have done it without all the support of you, our friends and family. Our little business really took some big steps this year – getting products into new retail outlets, growing the number of hives we have, increasing awareness about bees through educational presentations and talks and our beekeeping class, increasing the number of events we attend, getting better organized in the honey house, getting the website up and running, getting more media coverage in print, online and on tv, getting our finances in order with formal assistance so we can better assess cost versus revenue…and more! And here’s to even more of “and more” in 2012. 🙂

Lazy warm winter day

Here are some of the things we resolve for 2012:

  • Be better caretakers of the bees and share that knowledge with others
  • Increase the quantity and quality of our hives
  • Find new opportunities for the bees to pollinate and produce food for people
  • Mark said he resolves to live in more harmony with Smokey (I cleaned that up to keep this positive! 🙂 )
  • I resolve to blog on all my blogs more regularly!

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We’re finding some good looking hives as we do our round of last-minute feeding. This hive is at the Deadman Creek yard and had some nice brood and a healthy amount of bees. Do you see the queen? We scrambled to feed the new hives at the Farm Yard, which were light when we bought them, and then decided to check on the rest of the hives as well. The bees need plenty of food for the winter because it provides the fuel that the bees need to vibrate their wings to keep the winter bee-cluster warm. The bees maintain a fairly constant 90 degrees in the hive even on those cold winter nights. We normally leave a super of honey on each hive for this purpose, but this year’s drought had other ideas.

We’re taking a break from our bee work tomorrow for our second annual Christmas Open House. We hope you can join us 2-6 tomorrow afternoon at our GBR Honey House here in Seguin (116 W. Krezdorn). We’ll have lots of refreshments, tours of the honey house, a candle making demonstration, free honey tastings, and of course a full array of beautiful bee-made goodies for that one-of-a-kind Christmas gift. So take a break from the crowded malls and stressful traffic and visit with us for awhile — we promise to put the sweetness back in your Christmas Spirit!

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cow at hive gonzales

Today Mark made a visit out to the Elm Creek, Gonzales and Pizza yards. It’s been several days since he’s been out to the yards – we’re really worried about the fires raging through our poor state. Thousands of gorgeous acres burned to a crisp. 😦 All the poor people who have lost their houses…my heart just aches every time we watch the news. Mark is constantly changing the channel once I grab tissues. So how does this equate to him not visiting the bees? Well, we were talking about how one of the big fires started because of the catalytic converter of a vehicle sparking the dry grass and brush. Which then led to Mark thinking he wouldn’t want to start a fire with his own truck or the smoker. Which led me to think I sure wouldn’t want him to be out there in the event a brush fire is blown his way with the winds we’ve been having. He often does his bee work solo and if he got caught in the fires…well, I just couldn’t bear that thought. So, he took a bit of a break since last week and today he really enjoyed being out in the yards with his bees. The weather has also been so much more pleasant. We have been in the 90s this week with mornings in the upper 50s and lower 60s – FABULOUS! Today at Gonzales he was kept company by some of the tamest cows he’s encountered. I thought they were really sweet looking and he said they were nice – even let him pet them. I wish I had been there!! I always miss it when I don’t get to go to the yards and he tells me about his visits.

Below is a shot of the same oak tree in the background and it was shot back in 2010 at the end of June. Granted, the two pictures are separated by about two and a half months (end of June versus mid-Septembr) but I wanted you to recall how beautiful the Gonzales countryside is, especially at that beeyard. We love going out there – breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the peacefulness of no cars or trucks or other city noises. I hope that we can see it return to its lush state in the near future.

She sure was curious.

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Lest you wonder what’s happened to us, I wanted to let you know that I stole my beekeeper from our bees and Mark is with me in Virginia this week. So….that means the bees are on their own for a little bit! But although we are far from our bees, we are always thinking of them – yes, it’s true. And we look for hives in the landscape of places we visit. I love it when we find them. I found these on the outskirts of Harrisonburg (VA) and I didn’t have my super-duper camera and I did take it with only the window rolled down and one eye on the road to make sure no one hit me from front or behind…but you can still see the hives. Mark said he spotted some on the road between Harrisonburg and Orange on Highway 33 today.

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Candlemaking 101

Extracting the taper

Well, the molds arrived and Mark’s been pouring, pouring, pouring and it’s been a lot of fun – we are learning so much and have already decided we will likely never buy anything but beeswax candles. They smell faintly of honey and soft, warm wax and they burn superbly smoothly. I sat mesmerized by the taper we tried out last night. I think a lot of our wonder is in the fact that our bees actually made this wax and all we had to do was get some equipment and pour it straight into the molds (yes, I know I’m over-simplifying but that’s what it boils down to; no pun intended). And then here we are – lovely scented candles. We’ve already received some pre-orders and we’ll probably also have some at Lily’s Cookies as well.

One of the other things we did this week (gee, how do I pick which to discuss) was meet with a vendor in order to explore bag options for the jars at trade days and shows. We are really not liking the plastic bags and they flop all over the place. We also don’t have a ton of money to spend on fancy bags (yet), but we hope we have found a reasonable paper bag for now. We’ll see how pricing goes. We know it’ll be a good investment to get the bags and get our logo out there – little ads walking around the shows would be awesome. We’ll keep you posted on what we settle on whenever it’s all worked out. We hope to go to the December shows with new bags. 🙂 Would be nice.

Okay, now we are off to prepare for our first Texas Beekeepers Association Annual Conference. We are very excited as this is our first conference and we’re eager to hear the speakers as well as attend a couple of workshops. I’m sure we’ll blog about it since some of you may never have been to one – you want to know what beekeepers get together and talk about, don’t you? I’m curious to see what’s it’s like because we’ve been to many conferences as librarians (yep, both of us are librarians) and THOSE are always interesting. When you put a ton of exciting people like librarians and beekeepers together, all sorts of things are bound to happen, right? Especially beekeeping librarians. 😉

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