Archive for the ‘Capote’ Category

hive entrance mite board

As part of his morning activities with the bees, Mark’s been going to out to each bee yard on a regular schedule that he keeps up-to-date on his phone. This morning he visited the Capote yard, which has been a tough yard for the bees this year. We love it out there but we’re down to a handful of hives. Mark just agreed, they are a handful. Those poor things have suffered cows and bulls bumping them and the dreaded foul brood, which Mark got under control. He’s moved some of the hives out and lost a couple but he perseveres as always. The powdered sugar treatment is a part of his routine out at the yards. He slides the marked board under the screen bottom board of the hive and then he shakes that fine dusting of sugar from above. As the mites fall off the bees and onto the board below, he can assess if the count warrants some more attention beyond the powdered sugar treatment. In the picture below, can you see some tiny brown, round flecks in the bottom of the grid? There’s also another mite in the second from bottom row on the grid – far right. So, I always wonder…when Mark goes to HEB (our local grocery chain) and buys bags and bags and bags of sugar and powdered sugar – do folks wonder what he’s got planned? Does the cashier thing, lord, this man must be a baker! Or a sugar addict. Oops, I gave away his secret. lol

mite board


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Capote Foul Brood - frame with issue

So we went out to Capote so Mark could put some treatment on the hive he noticed needing some attention. He also told me there was a certain smell to the foul brood disease that was in that little hive – so he confirmed what I had read as I was learning about what foul brood is all about. We have been so busy that we haven’t had much time to fully discuss this situation but Mark did say he thought it was the European and not American version. The above frame is an example Mark brought over to show me (I was safely tucked in the truck and all I had to do is occasionally roll down the window). At first, i thought the brood pattern indicated the problem since to me it looks splotchy. But Mark said it actually was okay. The real problem can be seen in the picture below. Note the broken cappings over some of the cells. This indicates that the bees were going in there and getting rid of the inflicted bees before they are even born. Sort of sad to me but they do that to try and save the rest of the hive. Good job bees.

Capote Foul Brood - foul brood indications

Below, Mark is dusting that hive with the equivalent of an antibiotic for bees. Hopefully it will help us with the situation. We will keep you posted on this development. Thankfully it’s not in all the hives.

Capote Foul Brood - an antibiotic for bees

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Bees on Cactus at Big Oaks - 6

Today we checked on three yards to see how the bees are doing during this year’s honey flow. Mark planned to put supers on any hives that might be ready for more space on which to add their honey. Considering how dry it has been for us here in South Central Texas, we have been blessed with an abundance of food sources for the bees. The Prickly Pear Cactus is currently in bloom as you can see in the picture above and in every yard we visited, they were buzzing around among the cactus blooms, harvesting nectar and some pollen. They acted a little drunk if you ask me. I shot a video of a bloom with two bees working it and I will try and get it onto YouTube as soon as possible but I have had trouble loading our videos lately. Last week I tried to get one of the swarm videos up for you guys but the farthest I got was 53% completion and then nothing. Frustrating. I’ll try again and then I’ll link it here or on Facebook to let you know it is ready for viewing.

Big Oaks 16April11 - 2

After working out in the honey house for a bit on comb honey frames, organization and bottling, we headed to our first stop – Big Oaks. This is one of our favorite and prettiest yards in my opinion. That is, however, a little unfair to say because each of our nine yards has special character and appeal to us and is pretty in its own way. Gosh, sounds like I’m talking about our children, doesn’t it. Well, we are just so proud of our yards and bees. They are really making the best of it in this dry spring so we love them for it. Anyway, Mark had taken a fresh frame of honey to our product shoot with Pauline Stevens last week so he wanted to put it back so the bees can cap it over. While we were there, he checked to see how they are doing and we are happy to report they are making honey and we continue to add more supers as they need them. I love it when I get to see the hives getting taller and taller. Remember last year’s hives? Some of them were taller than Mark stood. That was really awesome.

Capote Yard 16April11 - 3

Our second stop today was at the Capote Yard. As you may recall, this is where we had “the Cow Incident” where they knocked one of the hives completely upside down but fortunately did not kill our queen or scare the bees away. As a result, Mark straps these babies securely to keep the main bull from knocking any of them over and apart. They may tip over but at least the strap will keep the box intact. Luckily, nothing was disturbed when we go there and no signs of the cows. I was on the lookout. The bees were all so gentle and happy today that I didn’t even need to suit up at any of the yards. I made sure I stayed out of everyone’s way today and I was able to enjoy the gentle breeze and perfect 80-something degree, sunny day. Low humidity. It was heavenly. So the bees are doing great at Capote and Mark was satisfied with their progress. They are also making honey so that’s good news for those of you how loved the Mesquite honey. Looks like we’ll be getting quite of bit of that mixed in with some of the wildflowers sprinkled here and there.

Coyote Yard 16April11 - 2

Our last stop was the Coyote Yard – a favorite because of the people there as well as the wildlife. How can you not love the excitement of coyotes howling within earshot of the yard. And there are turkeys, at least one mountain lion (I haven’t decided if we are lucky or not for not seeing that one yet), tons of buzzards and other birds and another ton of Prickly Pear Cactus blooms everywhere. This is really a wonderful yard and we both think it’ll end up being one of our best yards in terms of productivity and bee happiness. We noticed lots of different things blooming on the property as well as within the three mile area that bees will fly in order to forage. There’s plenty of water and blooming vegetation around there so they are set.

[This is just an aside since I’m sitting in the study all by myself writing this – why is Mark’s Mac making a few funky, clunky sounds. That was weird and a little startling. Which reminds me of the little critter that must be under our house because it’s been making some noise here and there that I don’t appreciate it making. No, I’m not scared of noises. Why would you think that? Anyway, back to blogging.]

You’ll notice there is a bit of newspaper hanging over the edge of that hive Mark’s standing next to in the picture – well, that’s one of the swarms he caught last weekend. He put the newspaper there in order to separate the original hive from the swarm bees. Over the span of several days, the bees will all get used to each other’s scents and primarily the new bees will adjust to their new queen’s scent. Eventually, they will all eat away at the newspaper and if he was to pick up that box, you’d see that all that would be left are those edges that are hanging outside the hive. It’s pretty neat. Before Mark taught me how that was done, I had no clue that’s how you’d integrate an unknown swarm into your own hive. Cool stuff. I love learning.

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Hungry Cows at Capote

I finally successfully uploaded my video that I mentioned several posts ago regarding our visit to the Capote bee yard. These are some of the cows on the property and they followed us over to the hives when they saw us driving onto the land. They sure were not bashful and they got really close to us as you can see in the video. The only sign we noted in terms of disturbance to the hives was one lid (first hive) was pushed about seven inches askew. Fortunately, the bees were fine and they stayed put in the hive. Phew. Crazy cows.

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Signs of Spring

Pollen 11

With our warmer weather and the sun actually making appearances, the bees are really starting to get out more and we were pleased to see that they were carrying pollen into their hives! These shots are from our weekend visit out to the Capote bee yard though Mark told me this evening that the bees at Elm Creek and Big Oaks yards were also bringing in a good amount of pollen themselves. Great news – that means spring is near. Not sure where they are finding the pollen but they are so good at it. Even though we cannot see what the source is right now (nothing visible we can determine for sure), at least the bees are able to find it.

GBR Smoothie time

While the bees busily collected pollen last summer and early fall, Mark collected a bit of it for customers who asked for some. He also set aside some for us as well as for the bees to help them through the winter when there’s so little available to them in the countryside. If you haven’t tried a smoothie yet, then you really should – so good and so good for you! This past weekend, in addition to our honey, we added wheat germ AND bee pollen. Our allergies have been noticeably better this year than in years past but it can’t hurt to boost up with pollen. Honey is great for building immunity against local allergens but it is believed that pollen is even more potent so it certainly couldn’t hurt to give it a whirl. After two years of taking local honey and building it up in my system, I can really see the benefits paid off this season. While I may still have the sniffles and some sneezing and even an occasional headache, they are minor compared to times when I could only spend thirty minutes outside before the allergies forced me indoors. Thanks little bees! 🙂

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Frames of bees 2

Today was absolutely gorgeous so we were both excited about getting out to a bee yard to see how the girls are doing so far this year. We had a wonderful visit with a friend who stopped by for Valentines Day gifts and then we were off to Capote yard. They were looking great out there – building up nicely AND carrying in pollen. We aren’t sure where the pollen is from (source) but we were very pleased to see so much coming into the hives. I got some really great shots and will be sharing other photos the next couple of day plus a funny video of some hungry cows. HILARIOUS. Sort of… Hope you all had a great day. Tomorrow we are excited about visiting another potential bee yard. Always looking for a good home for our growing bees and we’re super excited about the coming year. Praying for healthy bees and another great harvest this year!

In the picture above, I asked Mark to hold up one of the frames from a hive so I can see the bees. I spotted the queen right away and if you want to see her closer up, just click on the picture and it’ll take you to our Flickr site where you can view it larger. The five hives in this yard have the Zia queens from New Mexico and Mark is very satisfied with them at this point. Looking good and like they are all gearing up for the spring. Great news for GBR and our awesome customers!

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Checking on the bees in their new yard

Another gorgeous Texas fall weekend means we get to spend most of it outside, usually with the bees. We went out to Capote Bee Yard to check on the bees and found them settling into their new digs quite well. As a matter of fact, two of the five hives had a first flight session going on and that is always cool to watch. Remember, that’s when some of the new bees take flight for the first time ever and they just hover near the entrance – sort of like a practice run before the real adventures begin away from the hive.

The bees have some friendly and inquisitive neighbors now! Check out these two llamas in the field next to the property we are on. There’s a fence separating them from the bees but even if they were in the same field, it would likely not be a real problem. We have never had any issues at any of our other six bee yards and the animals on those properties – everything from horses and cows to chickens, ducks and wild hogs. Oh, and sometime a coyote and fox.


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Capote Bee Yard

LIttle gift boxes of bees

We are very happy to share with you that we have officially established our 7th bee yard – the Capote Bee Yard, located (where else?) on Capote Road outside of Seguin and in some of the prettiest country we have had the pleasure to explore. Kenneth helped Mark prep and move the hives from the Big Oaks yard while I took pictures to document the move after collecting pollen from the traps we still have on some of the hives. (I’ll have to remember to post about the change in pollen we saw tonight.)

Here are some shots of what the bees will see when they explore tomorrow. We’ll go back to check on them and also to snap some more photos. We lost light pretty fast this evening so I wasn’t able to get great shots of them all set up in their new home.

The pond where they can water whenever they are thirsty. They’ll share it with some of the cranes and buck we saw the other evening when we came out to prep the yard.

Another view of the pond

Here’s a view the bees will see first thing tomorrow morning when they explore their new environment. It’s lovely out there!

Would love to see this everyday!

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