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Archive for the ‘Comanche Creek’ Category

Comanche Creek bee yard Aug 2014

Holy smokes, folks. Guess what? We managed to bring back thirty-one (yes 31!) honey supers yesterday from Comanche Creek bee yard. Pretty late in the year for the bees to be making honey but no one here is complaining, that’s for sure. Though we are in September, the bees made the bulk of this honey in August so we’ll go with an August harvest. So cool! Comanche Creek Farm & Ranch is the yard west of San Antonio. The past two years had been pretty hard for the hives out there due to the extreme drought. We even moved half of them off the property despite our desire to partner with the super nice Anderson family. We left one of two bee yards intact and prayed for a better year. And it happened. That area has received so much rain this year that creeks we typically see dry are filled with water. There is green grass all along the dirt roads we normally meander on to get to the hives. Trees and brush are greener and fuller. Bees are happier, healthier and busier. So not only are they making an amazing amount of honey this year, the hives are just downright robust and that makes for a very happy beekeeper. Mark and I were talking yesterday about how it all hinges on nutrition. With the rains, things bloom. With the blooms, bees receive the nutrition they need to thrive. Man, what an amazing switch for them and we couldn’t be happier. Go bees! The above picture was shot last week when Tang, Mark and I went to see the bees on Labor Day. We had a lovely picnic under an oak tree and I even spotted a wild beehive right above us – heard the hum of the bees. Below is one of my favorite shots – Tang loves to photograph things as much as I do! LOL If I get my camera/phone out, he has to have a shot also. That is one of the many Cenizo bushes in bloom after the rains out in that area. The bees were buzzing all over the bushes and you could really hear them well. I saw many had full pollen buckets so we were all very happy for them and for us.

Comanche Creek bee yard Aug 2014

The honey pulled yesterday tastes like it has this Cenizo as well as Bee Brush in it. All I know is that it’s gorgeously light and tastes wonderful. How nice to have a slightly different variety to try out in a year when my favorite Mesquite honey didn’t get made!

Comanche Creek honey Sept 2014

And this is what the 31 honey supers look like in the Honey House – so awesome!

Late harvest 2014

By the way, in case you don’t follow any of our other social media…we have official store hours now! It’s a start and we are pleased to be able to commit to it.

We started official store hours!

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Hello Again

Rainy Memorial Day weekend 2014

So…I don’t know how it got to be so long since I last posted. I kept wanting to and started and then something would come up that needed my attention. And then here we are. Sooooo much is going on that I get overwhelmed trying to decide what to tell you all so I suppose I should simply start somewhere. Anywhere.

This year has been an odd year for us and the bees! In April we thought the honey production was pretty much done and we were really a little blue about it. But then we took a trip to Florida to see family and when we got home, it became the beginning of on and off rainy spell that has continued until now. Amazing what a week can change. We went from worrying about how to make the little bit of honey stretch all year to having to wait and wait and wait while the bees continue to make honey. Great change in plan. We pulled honey supers twice now from our two farthest bee yards! The second round (just yesterday) yielded 42 supers and we could not be happier with our bees in Comanche Creek and Bigfoot. Good job girls!

Here’s a shot of Mark and my sister Thuy last week at Comanche Creek bee yard in Medina County. Those are the second round supers on the hives. We had gone out there to see how they were doing. We also measured moisture levels to confirm they supers were ready to pull.

Comanche Creek bee yard June 2014

During the past several weeks, we’ve also had a big development in our Pearl Farmers Market life. Mark was elected President of the Board of Directors for the market association and I will continue in my support role of Communications Liaison between the Board and association members. We have a lot to learn but we are excited to have a chance to be more involved with the continued growth and development of the market. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for us all there at the Pearl. What a lovely place to be! We are close to having permanent home for the market. Once the Pearl completes construction of the Hotel Emma and neighboring structure, the market will finally have a home we can grow into. Exciting! We continue to meet some fantastic friends at market and partnerships continue to grow for our little company. We are so thankful for all the opportunities afforded to us!

His first moments after election to the Board at the Pearl FM

Finally, here’s another reason we got a little busier and more distracted – GO SPURS GO! Our marvelous Spurs made us so happy and proud. We are so thrilled we were able to go to different series games and got to see the final game and watch and be a part of the celebration at the arena. This team is amazing and we can’t wait to see what Tim Duncan’s 18th season will be like. Happy we get to see him another year at least!

Go Spurs go!

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Bees drinking feed

I have a few minutes before we need to go to bed since it’s market day tomorrow morning. I didn’t realize we’ve hit February without a post – SORRY!!! It’s just been so hectic with the Honey House nearing finish, bees needing checking and feeding, beeswax to filter and pour, and the list goes on. Anyway, it’s been good!

The above picture is a shot I snapped out at Comanche Creek in Medina County, where we visited last Sunday. It’s one of my favorite pictures because it looks like the bee on the left is sipping on the straw. haha It was such a beautiful day, warm and sunny. After several days of cold weather, we all were ready to be outside and so were the bees. They looked great and we are hoping for just a bit of rain so things can really pop! And we were happy to see some Agarita about to bloom and a couple of other bushes we didn’t know the names of yet. We’ll have to see how they bloom and then maybe we’ll figure out what they are. This is what Agarita looks like and it’s also about to bloom out at Deadman Creek, as reported by Mark and Tang today.

Agarita

And of course, since it is Valentine’s Day, I will say goodnight with a shot of a couple of the cards I made for my friends. I hope you had a wonderful day!

5-minute Valentine Cards

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Permits posted at GBR

Here’s our entrance to the Bee Ranch. The two papers posted are permits from the City of Seguin so that we can be officially in our construction and so on. We also had people out to mark all the underground things we need to be aware of – it’s 811 if you need to schedule that, by the way.

After an evening of worry over a plumbing issue that Mark noticed Monday, we got moving again after a fairly painless resolution was found the next day. Phew. We continue to learn a LOT as we get the Honey House built (this is how I found Mark after dinner Monday night: Recalculating plumbing measurements). Boy, talk about an entirely new awareness and appreciation for building projects. Can’t even imagine the coordination and administrative work of a really gigantic warehouse. But maybe it’d be less stress if you had on-site help daily. We are thankful, however, that we have a good friend who is acting as our construction consultant. Thank you, Thomas!

Rebar in the foundation

This is a shot of some of the rebar that concrete will be poured onto soon. What’s really awesome is the fact that the rebar going into the HH foundation is from our local steel mill where I work (CMC Steel Texas). Go steelers! I don’t know why but that just made it extra special for me when I saw it on property and in the form. At lunchtime, the update was sounding really great: plumbing work is done for now, the foundation crew returned (yay) and then the electrician comes next. This is all so exciting and we really are hoping we’ll have enough done on the HH so that we can stage it a bit for Holiday Open House on December 8. Fingers crossed!

In bee news: Last week the Bigfoot bee yard bees did not look good at all. It really worried Mark to see their frames empty of honey already given that the area had rain recently. He expected to find more but since he didn’t, he started pulling together plans to feed the girls to sustain them until they can go at it on their own. Still trying to figure out why they went downhill like that. Fortunately, a visit to Comanche Creek yards assured us we weren’t about to lose all of those hives as well. Mark was happy to see #1 yard bee looking pretty good. #2 yard will need to be fed but at least they are all still there. He wants to get back out there as soon as possible to feed, but given this critical stage of construction, he needed to stay around the Bee Ranch. Measure twice, pour once…as a friend wrote to us. He is right. We need to get this right for the HH. 🙂

That’s it for now. Next post, I’ll share some shots and directions for the best baked persimmon dessert ever! 🙂 Ciao!

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Me & Mark at Round 2, Game 2 Spurs/Grizzlies

Okay, the NBA Finals are on and I need distractions. To say we are fans is to put it lightly. We LOVE our Spurs! And I am a little on the intense side and sometimes I have to multitask during games so I can break up the stress. 🙂 Poor Mark has to listen to a lot of commentary (I have an awesome husband!). And to think I never even wanted to watch pro-basketball when I was growing up – only college ball for me. Then my brother took me to a Spurs game and I was hooked! And the rest is history.

So, on to the bee news since we are up by 6 with under four minutes to go. Some bee yards are doing well while others are just okay. And in one bee yard, you can have a hive that is cranking out honey production like crazy while the one next to it just isn’t quite as productive. We’ve been wondering if there is ever going to be a sustained honey flow this year – they just had the oddest weather to work with this year. Well, this week has given us a bit more hope. We’ll take whatever they give us but more is always better, given that demand has grown so much. So here’s a rundown of this week’s visits.

Bigfoot visit - honey frame 2

That’s a shot from Bigfoot bee yard in Frio County. Last visit when Mark was there, there wasn’t much to write home about but today…nearly every hive had a super of honey on it. Nice! By the way, he also sent this great picture while there – can you guess the significance of the ranch name? I loved it when he explained it. 🙂

Bigfoot visit - ranch life

Here’s yard #1 at Comanche Creek. A little on the dry side but it can always be worse. We’re thinking we may move this location since any rain looks like it’d come right through part of the yard and may wash away hives. We certainly don’t want that risk. I think Mark has already scoped out possible new spots.

Comanche Creek yard - panorama

The #2 yard is hanging in there and we’re hoping it will pick up again but as I always say, “It can always be worse.” At least we’re not losing bees and at least we have SOME honey in the supers. The girls were busy and barely took notice of us while we were there. I didn’t even have to put on my full suit and that’s always nice. Especially when it’s 95F degrees and feels 100F. Hot. Pretty amazing because when we checked the weather, it was 87F in Seguin. What a big difference. Trust me, you can definitely feel those extra degrees. In my next post, I’ll share a couple other pictures and a video I shot of how the bees keep cool in the heat. I don’t want to overload this entry with too much information.

Comanche Creek June 5 2013 visit

There was a lot of this beautiful brush down at Comanche Creek. I like this shot a lot because of the fantasy feel of the white bee brush – it was blooming everywhere and smelled wonderful and sweet. It was great to see the bees all over the place and that there was food aplenty this trip. While we’ve had some rain, it is still pretty hot and pretty dry. Typical Texas weather so it’s always going to be a challenge if you’re in farming and/or have livestock. Also in bloom down there and with on the blooms included plants such as the wild persimmon, sprinklings of yellow wildflowers (several varieties), Huajilla still holding on and some Mesquite as well. Plenty for them to choose from but the key is that it’s sustainable. The bees need the blooms to be prolonged and then they can continue the honey flow better than the previous stop-and-go blooming. We’ll hope it continues to go well for the bees there.

Bee brush and honey bee

On our way home, we stopped by the last sunflower field with any upright blooms left but I was happy to find any. And as a reward, there was a chubby, cute little wild bee on the bloom. She was so stout and adorable and not bothered by me whatsoever. This is my second year missing the peak bloom time so here’s to next season!

Castroville sunflowers

We didn’t get a shot from Deadman Creek but Mark did check on them and had to add four more supers so that’s great news! We are hopeful that this will be sustained for a while so that they girls can keep on making the honey. Can’t wait to see what the harvest will be like this year. We anticipate harvest will begin in a week or so…pretty soon. Stay tuned.

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Hives at Elm Creek

I don’t know if you noticed it Sunday but not only was it rumbling thunder and flashing lightning all across the lovely Texas sky, but we also had morning temperatures in the upper 60s. Yes. You read right – upper 60s. As a matter of fact, when we set up shop at the Quarry market, we both noted it was a bit on the chilly side. I actually had a light rain jacket on and Mark was on the chilled side with the constant wind and being in short sleeves. This has got to be the strangest Texas spring/summer I’ve seen in the 16 years I’ve lived here. Up and down and back up again in temperatures – it’s no wonder the flowers don’t know what’s going on, which impacts how the bees make honey. As I have mentioned before, if there isn’t a consistent bloom season, then the bees don’t have enough flowers to get a great honey flow going. So far, we are seeing a little improvement in honey production but it’s still spotty to be honest and the total production numbers should be interesting to compare to the past couple of years. 2010 and 2011 were drought years so we didn’t get much honey production while 2012 was a bumper crop year. Let’s see what 2013 will yield.

Today Mark went to Elm Creek, which is pictured above. That is white bee brush you see next to the hives and the bees love that and so do we. It has the loveliest, sweetest scent and when Mark showed it to me in full bloom one year, I was so in love with it. It was like a summer snow dusting on the ground at Elm Creek. I still remember stepping out of the truck and just soaking in the fragrant air. Loved it. The bee brush typically blooms several days after a rain and when it blooms abundantly, then that is a real boost to the bees’ honey production. Wednesday we’ll go out to Comanche Creek to see how the brush did out there and whether it gave the bees a bit of a boost at all. We’ll report back afterwards.

After Elm Creek and some work at The Farm yards, Mark headed out to Gonzales. While they still aren’t doing much at the Gonzales yard, the Pizza yard bees were looking a little better and making a bit of honey. This is a shot of one of the fields Mark drove through on his way to the Pizza bees – good sign for the girls – that’s a lot of horsemint to munch on and that’s a great sight to see! Like bee brush, horsemint has a light, sweet fragrance and is a great bee food so we are pleased to see it growing like this. It’s also nice to not have to worry about someone mowing it all down like we have seen in some areas. Always breaks my heart a bit when I see beautiful fields of wildflowers mowed down. Well, we shall remain hopeful that these blooms will continue for a while so that the girls can get a steady honey flow going.

Pizza Bee Yard

In other news, we have joined another farmers market – Southtown Farmers & Ranchers Market, which will be located at the cool Blue Star Arts Complex! This Saturday morning market formally kicks off on June 15 although we won’t be able to join them until June 22 since we will be out of town for our daughter’s wedding. If you are looking for the same Sunday morning atmosphere of the Quarry market, then you’ll want to come visit us and the other vendors at the Blue Star. This market is coordinated by the same dynamic duo who run the Quarry market – Heather and David. As a webpage is developed, I will be sure to share it with you. Meanwhile, you can find the market on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SouthtownFarmersMarket.

Southtown Farmers & Ranchers Market

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Beekeeping activities May 2013

Hello there and where did the week go? Anybody know? It sure has flown by and Saturday is the kickoff to June. Lordy. Well, since I last wrote, we got a LOT of rain, in case you don’t follow us on Twitter and Facebook. 6.25 inches – from Friday to Sunday afternoon. Wow. It was crazy but terribly exciting! It may sound like we should be over the drought but we have a long way to go before we do that. And it may also sound like the bees should be making honey like crazy, right? I mean look around – the countryside and highways are packed with all sorts of late season wildflowers. Well…it’s just not that easy. It’s been such a wonky spring – up and down in temperatures. Rain. No rain. It warms up. Things bloom and then the bees get a honey flow going. Then bam, a cool front. Flowers stop blooming or drop off because it got too cold. The bees then don’t have flowers to sustain the honey flow. They stop making honey. So that’s been a pattern we saw repeated several times this spring and it’s taking a toll in honey production this year. Not sure how much we’ll get but it won’t be in the quantity we got last year, that’s for sure. We’ll keep you posted.

Once things started drying up a bit, Mark made his way around the different bee yards and there is a good honey flow at some yards and in some hives. Here’s a shot of a Deadman Creek yard, where eight out of eleven hives needed honey supers yesterday.

8 of 11 hives need honey supers at Deadman Creek - nice!

And I also wanted to share a picture of some white bee brush that should be in full bloom within the week, which should really spur the bees at Comanche Creek to get a honey flow going. This is a promising sign so Mark will be going back out there mid-week next week to see how they are doing. If you’ve never seen or smelled bee brush, then let me tell you it is one of the sweetest scents I’ve ever smelled and it can make you smile in delight no matter how bad your day has been up to that point. Really. It’s an amazing flower and yet one of the very smallest I’ve ever seen.

Comanche Creek May 29 visit - bee brush

In Honey House news – we actually received some plans this morning and Mark likes the proposal! Just last night we were talking about how slow things sometimes move and how you don’t always receive what you think you should get when you think you should get it. But I guess this whole thing is teaching us more patience. I thought I’d come a long ways but I guess I still have a ways to go in that department. At any rate, we got some things to look over and then we’ll decide what next. In the meantime, we did get water run to the Candle Shop (yay – no more sticky everywhere!) and if the honey production is as low as we think it will be, then it’s likely we may be able to extract in that tiny little space (this will make us appreciate the final HH even more than we thought possible when we extracted last year in the tiny space!). We’ll see how things shape up soon enough.

Honey House proposal

Finally, to the libray we go. Yesterday I made a lovely little gift basket for our friends at the Seguin Public Library. It’s going to be a raffle prize for the adult summer reading program so be sure you register starting Saturday! I will be since there are other great prizes in addition to our Bee Wrangler basket. Go by and tell them GBR sent ya. [Trivia: Did you know Mark and I met while we both worked as librarians? Really! And Mark was director at Seguin library for several years – good times.] Here are our friends at the library, Jacki and Silvia, receiving the Bee Wrangler I delivered. Hi, ladies! I hope you get LOTS of people to sign up to read, read, read!

Delivering a GBR basket for the Seguin Library adult summer reading program

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