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Archive for the ‘“Deadman Creek”’ Category

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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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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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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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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Showing Contractor Ed the property soon to be ours

Took a little stroll out to the back part of the property this evening with Contractor Ed. We really like him and the ideas he had. Let’s hope things progress a little bit now. The update on the new Honey House is there’s no update on the HH. Amazingly, we are still waiting on paperwork from the seller. No one seems in a hurry whatsoever on this so I guess it’s a GREAT thing we have some options in terms of extraction locations come harvest time. We would, however, really like to have a HH in time for our annual fall open house – it would be really great to be able to give people a real tour of our little central honey hub! Keep your fingers crossed on that for us.

Besides that stuff, Mark’s been out in the bee yards even when he’s not feeling 100%, unlike me feeling 100% under the weather and crashing for a whole day and a half! Crazy. Anyway, luckily we are both feeling better this evening and the bees seem to be feeling just fine right now. Lately Mark’s been checking on the bees at Big Oaks, Elm Creek and Deadman Creek. They are all doing well and there is even a bit of a honey flow going on at Elm Creek. Here’s a picture of one of our very first bee yards we established here in Guadalupe County. Still one of my favorites.

Honey flow at Elm Creek Spring 2013

Here’s a not-so-welcoming site Mark received out at Deadman Creek bee yard today. Great, another potentially dangerous critter to add to this year’s growing list. We’ve not had problems with them in the past and this is actually the first we’ve seen on or near our hives so now we know to be watching our for them as well. Let’s see, that’s rattlesnakes, black widows, brown recluses, and scorpions. Let’s see what else we encounter as we continue working the bees. By the way, bees are looking good at Deadman Creek. The recent rain helps but we are hoping for more this Thursday when the forecast is predicting about a 60% chance of rain. Keep your fingers crossed.

Found him on a bee box. Took care of him with the hive tool.

Tonight I decided I had all the right ingredients to try a scrub recipe I’ve been wanting to make for quite some time. I love the lemony smell so I went with that one; plus it has honey in it so you can’t go wrong, right? It was very easy to make and took no time whatsoever. 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1 lemon and 1 tablespoon of honey. That’s it. I’ll let you know how I like it after I try it.

Honey & Lemon scrub making

I really love the yellow, spring look to it. If nothing else, it will certainly add color and a fresh scent to the bathroom. πŸ™‚

Ready to use homemade Honey & Lemon Scrub

Tomorrow’s agenda: Visit the Marriott Bee Yard and see how they’re doing. The four sponsored hives are there as well and so we’ll update our sponsors about their progress.

*Verdict on the scrub: I like it but next time I will reduce the amount of olive oil to 1/4 cup rather than 1/2. Love the texture, however.

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Troy and Mark

This is our friend and awesome web designer, Troy! He owns Stratagem Technical Services and has really helped us create a beautiful site for our growing little bee biz. We are thrilled that Troy got to stop in to see us at the Bee Ranch this week – even got to visit a couple of bee yards with Mark while I worked. I enjoyed hearing his thoughts on his first visit with bees – sometimes we are with them so much, you miss out on the newness of experiences. I have two favorites that Troy shared with me and I will tell you briefly here what they are.

Troy and the queen bank

Troy got to see the queen bank and install a queen cage into a hive. Remember, Mark has those 50 Heitkam queens he needs to install. Well I think my favorite thing about Troys’s description of the experience is the feeling of all those little wings touching his bare hands as he slide the cage between two frames full of bees. How lovely it sounded – I have never done that before so see what I’m missing out on there? I liked hearing about it, however. It was so poetic.

Donkey!

Funny shot, rigth? I love that donkey because from day 1 at Deadman Creek bee yard, he has been a real character. The first time we “met” him, he was trotting stalkingly behind and beside us in the ATV we were riding to check out the property with Craig. Hilarious little fella. Well apparently he treat Mark and Troy to a real show while they were working bees. About ten feet away from the hives, Donkey decided to stop, drop and roll around in the dirt! Troy’s phone was inside his bee suit and by the time Mark got his phone out and camera on, Donkey had finished and jumped straight up as if nothing unusual had just happened. Ugh! I miss all the fun! If I had seen that in person, I seriously think I would have laughed my head off. What a silly donkey he is.

After all that excitment of the day, no visit would be complete without a real south Texas meal so we took Troy to Clear Springs and the food was yummy. And abundant. πŸ™‚ We thoroughly enjoyed the visit and getting to know Troy better. Can’t wait for his next visit already.

I think we were up till about 1:00am to finish as much prep as possible for the Pearl market and the Gonzales Come & Take It Festival. We’re learning about doubling up on everything from products to supplies to staffing. But we are ready! So come by and visit us at either or both events!! Come & Take It is always a fun event to do – people are wonderful and there’s music, food, vendors, a carnival with rides, a Saturday parade and so much more. We always love doing that event. It starts tonight and Mark and Stan are there setting up – we’ll be ready with local and specialty honeys by 5:00pm today and it runs to midnight (yes!). Jess and I will be manning the double booth all day tomorrow and we’ll be in our usual spot hear the fire house, on the side where you can see the old theatre. Great spot. Then Sunday Mark and I will wrap it up together so do stop by and visit. Lan and Cathy will be helping Mark at the Pearl tomorrow and our CrepeLandia friends are back so that will be a treat for Mark – we missed them last week as rain and crepes apparently do not mix. lol Crowds are expected to be full since a lot of folks need to pick up goods they missed out on last weekend thanks to all that water everywhere. So if you want your honey and candles, be sure to get there early!

Okay friends – we are out of here! Y’all have a wonderful and safe weekend. We hope to run into you somewhere along the beeventure trails. Love, Thien

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Bee box

And sending packages and talking to people about bees and picking a picture to represent our year (for a commemorative offering project) and packing and planning and talking to surveyors who are staking out land for our new Honey House and making sure Smokey is okay in a cat fight with a country cat and eating a great dinner together after a long day of work for each of us. And now we’re both on our computers with the Packers/Seahawks game on the TV. Oh, and restocking at Maldonado’s. Phew. Covered almost everything we did today. πŸ™‚

The above shot is one that Mark took of a new hive he built from a healthy existing hive out at the Farm bee yard. Another Heitkam queen was installed in between all the other work Mark had going on today. He noticed for several days now that bees were swarming around his door handle and we’re not really sure why. Perhaps in handling the queens, he got their scents on his hands and then onto the door handle and that attracted the bees. Funny sight for sure. Those funny girls.

Sticky handle maybe

Speaking of funny, I wanted to share two funny things – first off, did you know it is dove season. I think that’s a funny way to put it because it actually means it’s the season for shooting doves! haha, to me, saying it’s dove season sounds like it should be a time when the doves are free to fly about without fear of being shot down. But no, it’s the opposite. ‘Tis dove season so that means Mark now has to be mindful of when he enters some of the bee yards since many of them are leased out for hunting. Poor man, he said it was really LOUD at Deadman Creek yard Sunday at dusk. When he called me to touch base on the way home, he said he was lucky to be alive and I had no idea what he meant at first. Then when he reminded me it was dove season, I had a moment of panic, picturing crazed dove hunters just shooting whatever moved. 😦 I need to find out when it’s over. lol. Never thought about that aspect of keeping bees on prime hunting properties.

Here’s the other funny thing to share – the wick and burn testing continued after dinner! It is the third round of wick testing to find the right size that will burn cleanly and not drip. This one is not it but it does make a wonderful wax art piece. πŸ™‚ The other one is burning more slowly with the smallest wick Mark has in stock yet it is still dripping. Interesting. There’s no draft in there as far we can see – flames are burning smoothly. Hmm…a mystery. We won’t be able to sell it until we figure out which wick works (say that 10 times straight) best. We’ll keep you posted!

Taper candle wick test - Take 3

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Installations of the Heitkam queens from Cali

Today Mark finally had a chance to start installing a few of the fifty queens he recently received from Heitkam Honey Bees out of California. In between administrative work, errands and candle making, he headed out to Big Oaks where the queen bank is located. He said that one of the hives was very strong but also on the aggressive side. A great reason to requeen, I’d say. He only got stung a few times but none after donning the Ultra Breeze. The challenges of working with a suit on include not being able to easily have a water break without opening up the suit and it’s hot. But we’re in Texas, so it’s pretty much hot in any suit (in my opinion). The UB does help because it has great ventilation (though I sort of prefer the soft cotton suits because they are lighter).

In the picture above, you see one of the queens in her cage. Mark has taped the opening end and will leave the cage in the newly divided hive for two days so that the bees may begin getting used to the new queen’s scent. He will then return to that yard and remove the tape on those hives he did today. Within seven days, the bees and the queen will eat through the sugar cork that is in the end of the cage. Once they eat through that cork, the queen will be able to move out of the cage – by that time, hopefully everyone’s been seduced by their new queen’s scent and they will simply go about doing their bee assignments. That’s ultimately what you hope for when you install queens. Mark told me that he once had to requeen a hive five times before the bees accepted their queen. That’s a lot of poor queens that the bees did away with for some reason. At about $20 a pop, it sounds like a lot of money but when you start thinking about how critical the queen is to the well-being of a hive, then it puts it in perspective, right? $20 for an awesome queen with a healthy, strong, abundantly populated hive sounds like a great deal. I wonder if queen breeders ever have a BOGO deal. Wouldn’t that be funny? πŸ™‚ BOGO stands for buy-one, get-one in case you didn’t know. I didn’t have a clue the first few times I saw it. There’s your retail trivia for the day.

Wonder what tracks these are...

I always love hearing what Mark did during his day with the bees and the bee business. I never know what he’ll tell me or what picture he’ll show me. When I saw this one of the tracks, I asked if it was the longhorns out at Deadman Creek on the Lazy U Ranch. No, he said. They’re probably tracks of the CHUPACABRA. In case you don’t know what that animal is, take a minute to Google it since I don’t have an actual picture of the rarely-seen, questionably-real creature. That beekeeper of mine is funny.

And here’s a lovely shot he got of one of the bees working the Broomweed, which is now blooming all about the area. This makes a bitter honey that we leave on the hives for the bees to winter on and perhaps we won’t have to feed them until next spring. With the rain we’ve been getting, it’s been wonderful for the bees. We hope there will continue to be enough out there for our newly divided hives to strengthen themselves on in preparation for the South Texas winter.

Bee in the broomweed

Finally, we want to thank our friends and family who have helped us move over to the new Bee Ranch. We are officially moved in though things are of course not yet in all their right spots. The Honey House on Krezdorn is still in use as we don’t have a new HH yet so if you see a vehicle over there, feel free to stop in as we always love visitors. Wish us luck in cleaning things up and getting some little fixes completed on our sweet little original Bee Ranch. That home was a good home to us and we hope the next owners will love it as much as we loved it. It’s just time for us to move on. Speaking of which, my sweet little baby Smokey is out and about exploring his new territory. We haven’t seen him back in about 24 hours so I’m an anxious momma. I hope that crazy cat comes home soon. Mark said he LOVED class last Saturday and I can’t imagine class without him. Send him home if you see him please! Goodnight.

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