Archive for the ‘disease’ Category

October-November SA Drop dates

Hello folks. Just wanted to drop a quick line to say hi. We are heading into San Antonio this Thursday morning if you need us to bring in an order of anything. Holler at us on the company line (no texting) 830-305-7925. Also, check out what Mark and Stan bottled this year…it’s been a while for the larger sizes of local honey. This is nice to see.

2016 Guadalupe County Wildflower Honey

I love that we have jars from cute little 2-ounces to the 5-pounder. Cool and fun for us.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent email Mark sent out to his beekeeping group:

“We are in the midst of a Fall season that has been beneficial to our bees here in Guadalupe County. We see a moderate honey flow and a strong pollen flow continuing. I am spot feeding here and there, mainly the new splits to boost brood production. We are nearing the end of our re-queening project and we are very pleased with the Kona (Hawaii) and Wilbanks (Georgia) queens that we used. We are seeing strong brood rearing in all of the colonies with new queens. This will greatly help us in early spring when we start making divides and nucs. Two weeks ago we were inspected by the State Apiary Inspection Service. They tested for nosema spores and for mites. The resulting numbers looked good, although the mite numbers were slightly higher than I had predicted given that we had treated with Apivar over the previous six weeks. It underscored for me the need to perform a follow-up mite treatment this fall with Apiguard.”

Apiary inspections with the State went very well.


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…if Mark was not the beekeeper he is and if he did not allow me to simply wander the landscape on our big and mini-beeventures (instead of doing the really hard work). 🙂

I might have missed all the lovely mushrooms scattered here and there in our yard. I spied several lovelies as I photographed Mark and Stan unloading

Dirt on mushroom top

I might have missed the most precious acorns ever in our front yard, under the huge oak tree. It’s nice to have things other than various types of caterpillars falling out. hehe

Cutest little acorns ever

I might have missed the beautiful lines that boards make when stacked and the character of each board’s surface, telling of weather conditions here in South Texas.

Bee boards

I might never have known that bees have happy hour as well.

Bees drinking water

I might have freaked out if I saw ghost bees, especially on a night such as this.

Vertical view of powdered frames

(Actually, that’s just powdered sugar and it doesn’t harm them.)

I could go on and on but I’ll say goodnight here. Earlier today I was thinking about these things I have enjoyed seeing and so I just wanted to share them with y’all. Hope you’ve had a great day and a safe one most of all. Sleep well and talk to you again soon.

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Big Island Queen in a Cage

Thanks go out to Emily of the UK for putting the idea of introducing a queen to a new hive without the cage – an aggressive approach compared to our seven-day slow introduction method with a caged queen that has proven to work quite well in our hives. I came home today and when Mark got home, he surprised me with news that he and Danielle requeened a hive using the cageless introduction technique. Cool! He said while they were out in the bee yard feeding, doing mite treatments and dividing when they came across one of our new Jester Bees hive. That hive had lost its queen and the girls made their own, which Mark does not want here in Texas. So, he decided this was an opportunity to try the more aggressive approach – doesn’t hurt to try and I guess his curiosity had been piqued. First things first, he found and killed that queen the girls made for themselves. In the following picture, he is clearing off the attendant bees from the Big Island queen, as best he can.

Getting bees off the cage

After that, he put a very heavy smoke on the hive itself to really sedate them. Don’t worry, it won’t harm the bees.

Smoking the bee hive

Here he is pushing apart a couple of frames to make sure that when he releases her, she’ll be near or on the brood nest.

Releasing the queen

And there she goes when he pulls back the wire protective screen.

There she goes

After all that, he put some feed into the box for them and now we wait and hope. He will go back and check on them next week some time.

Feeding the bees

I want to thank the wonderful Danielle for taking these pictures for us – we wouldn’t have them if she wasn’t with Mark. Sounds like she had a better out in the yards with Mark, which makes me happy to hear. 🙂

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Frosty windows

Thank goodness! While we have yet to measure between two and six inches of rain forecasted, we are still very happy to finally get a downpour today at the house as well as in the surrounding area. If we can get a bit more rain here and there, then the bees will be in good shape for honey production in a couple of months. Already! It seems like it was really just last month that we were trying to figure out how to extract all the honey. Time sure does fly by sometimes, doesn’t it. The picture above is my car yesterday morning when I left for work. Lot of moisture in the air lately, which is a nice change from the dryness.

As I type (sipping yummy coffee and looking at the Christmas lights we still have up b/c life is too short not to enjoy Christmas lights for as long as we want), Mark is out in the candle shop still, getting some more pine cones out of the molds. If you follow us on Facebook, the other night I posted a picture of three candles we are trying things on – different wicks, different pouring technique, etc. We’ll let you know how things progress. I don’t have much to report at the moment besides the fact that Mark just brought in more to test so yay for me! It rocks to have your very own candle maker. I personally think the candles are fine but he has very high standards so if he sees just one thing he doesn’t like about it, back into the pot it goes. Or to me if I see it in time. Here’s one of my favorite melting candle patterns. I love the pit that is being created. I also love the smell of the wax. I’ve decided the hollowed out pines make a nice little container so I’m saving them once they burn down to about an inch. Fun, pretty, functional. Good stuff.

Candle pit

In other news, during dinner conversation tonight, Mark casually told me that today Apivar was approved for Texas and that he’s really excited because it looks like it has proven to be very effective for mite treatment overseas, where they’ve been using it for a few years now. I thought this was great news so I wanted to share that with y’all. When we get some in and use it, we’ll be sure to post about it. This product is less messy than Hopguard and is a slow-release so it will hopefully kill the mites more effectively than Hopguard and Apiguard, both of which killed mites that are there already but not mites that come after application. So be on the lookout, fellow beekeepers! If you have mites (and you’re bound to), then you want to stay on top of this product development.

Weather alert: It’s raining hard again and I hear thunder. NICE! Oh, now coming down very hard. Exciting. This is going to be great for the bees! We just looked at the rain gauge again and now it measures about 2 inches. Radar is showing quite a lot of storm movement so hopefully we’ll get more rain overnight.

And in Honey House building news: It’s a long, trying, challenging process that we are sure will be great in the end but for now, please say a prayer for us and all the people we are relying upon to do what they are suppose to do without running us in circles. Seriously. I’d appreciate it. 🙂

And finally, with so much flu and other illnesses floating around out there, I thought I’d share some honey related information. Thanks to my sister-in-law Renee for suggesting this inclusion. 🙂

For allergies (like I’ve been having lately since I’ve been enjoying too much non-Guadalupe Wildflower), do a daily teaspoon of whatever’s local for you. You can do it straight or in your tea, coffee, oatmeal, other cooking.

For sore throats, I mainly do a cup of hot tea with honey and 1/2 a lime or lemon in there. There are tons of variations so you can alter as you wish. This one was always great when Mom made it for us. 🙂 You can also try honey and cinnamon which is a popular combination. Some people take it in tea while others take it in milk. Typically it’s one teaspoon of honey and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I’ve also read a recipe that adds ginger to that so I’m going to try that soon as I like ginger for settling my stomach when it’s out of sorts.

Hope you are all well and whether you are or you aren’t, you should probably still have some local honey daily as it is just an overall great food for overall great health. Sleep well and have a great day tomorrow!

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Fall honey and pollen

Today was a gorgeous day out there – nice day to work the bees, not too hot. While I was in an office listening to the breeze whip bush limbs against my window, Mark and Stan were busy, busy. Stan’s got a whole lot of our honey bottled and ready for markets, class and other events coming up. What a great help and a great space saver for us. I actually was able to move freely around the Honey House after work as I met a customer and then did some work there (although my flowing skirt kept catching on the bottling tank valves, hehe).

Anyway, that gorgeous frame at the top of the post is from the Pizza yard and I think it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a shot like that – of the perfect frame – that makes me wish I was there with him with my big camera. The colors are gorgeous. That’s brood in the center followed by a ring of pollen and then honey. The bees are doing very well at the Pizza yard and they made some fantastic honey that I got to taste this evening. Thanks, girls!

Now, below is a shot of two of the five mites Mark spotted on the poor little larva. 😦 This is why he’s treating with Mite Away. To put this in perspective for people during our bee classes, Mark tells students to imagine a tick the size of a FOOTBALL on your back – just sucking the life out of you. YUCK. Now imagine five of them. 😦 I am so sad just thinking about the poor bees. Let’s hope the Mite Away does its job well and helps them out a bit. So far, so good with the treatments.

Mites on bee larva

Let’s end on a good note, shall we? Mark also visited the Marriott again and was pleased with his check of the treatment he applied earlier. Then he sent me this shot and again I marveled at the beauty of the bees’ work. Gorgeous frame of pollen and bees. It takes so many little pouches of pollen to fill each one of those cells…can you imagine how many foraging trips it took the bees to fill one cell? And then all the cells on one frame? And then the other frames in one bee box? And then the other boxes stacked on the colony? That’s a lot of work.

Bees & Pollen

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All set up and ready to sell

Hello everyone and sorry I am just now getting to post. Our days and evenings are so packed and instead of posting last night, I made a little time to snuggle Smokey instead. I think I was on the move from the moment I left work – groceries, honey curry chicken, laundry, bills and checkbook work, and so on. All the routine stuff in life in addition to work and GBR. We love being able to do the bee work, though, so we just plug along. 🙂

Okay…so we made it through our BIG double event weekend. Not just any double event but the three-day event also known as Come & Take It. It didn’t disappoint overall though the crowds were thinner than in years past we noticed. We talked to other vendors and they agreed. We did, however, manage to do good business there. Some new things for us include the very new, very nice, surprisingly easy to put up and take down canopy from Academy. Weighing in at 65 pounds each, these have an extended awning that provides much needed shade from the Texas sun, both for our customers as well as our candles. In the four years we’ve been doing this whole market thing, we have learned a lot and we continue to with each event. Our neighbors have helped by providing feedback and suggestions on everything – from how to place products on tables for optimal appeal to how to set up the various canopies we’ve had (and some have even helped us put up that dreaded double canopy that didn’t last long). We sure appreciate the advice and help.

Speaking of help, the Pearl market was Saturday as well and Mark worked that event with Lan and Cathy, who was so sweet – she brought fresh eggs again and a tin of honey cookies! Thanks, Cathy! You are the bomb, as kids say. They do still say that, don’t they? Anyway, the cookies even made it to Gonzales and Jess and I got to enjoy them as well. I am notorious for savoring my special treats so guess what – I have some cookie left I’m going to enjoy tonight with a cup of hot tea after my blog post. That’ll be my reward. Who cares if I have to brush my teeth again. 😀

Cathy's Mesquite Honey Cookies

Finally, I want to catch you up on Mark’s work in the bee yards – it’s not all dividing and requeening right now. I think we need to clone him. Just a thought. Anyway, he is treating for mites! Yes, the dreaded mites. You really have to stay on top of them and he has yet to find a treatment that he is satisfied with but for now, he’s reading up on Randy Oliver’s site about Mite Away and trying some suggested methods of dealing with them. Randy does a lot of great research on all things bees and their well-being. We really appreciate his efforts as well as those of the groups with which he works. We had a chance to hear his presentation at last year’s beekeeping conference and it was fascinating. So, if you’re keeping bees, then be sure to do what Mark is constantly doing – reading, experimenting, reading, reading and more reading. And you’ve got to check your bees to stay on top of any potential problems, particularly at the height of activity (summer time). Right now we’ve got to get them ready for winter and that means helping them kick the mites off and out. So as I mentioned, Mark’s using Mite Away, a white strip of formic acid (don’t worry, this is considered to be an organic treatment). It sure smells better than Hopguard. Just my opinion.

Mite count fall 2012

Seven days ago, Mark treated six hives with the Mite Away. Today, he dusted each of those hives with powdered sugar in order to do a mite count. In past posts, we’ve written about the bees grooming that sugar off each other and in the process they knock the mites off. With the white board at the bottom of the hives as well as a screen bottom board, you can then do a count of mites over the whole white board. He found less than one percent infestation in the hives. YAY! Mark is very satisfied with this result and will continue this treatment for the rest of the hives. My poor honey bee – he’s going to be out of commission for a while, folks. Between this mite treatment and the dividing activities, he’s not going to be around the Honey House much. If you need honey or candles, please call me at 830-305-7925 and I’ll set up a time to meet you at the HH either during lunch or after 5p when I’m off work. Thanks for your understanding! And thank you, love, for contributing to the post. 🙂

Okay, now I’m off for tea and my honey cookie! Ciao!

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Farm 2012 hives 2

Now that Mark is back full time, there’s a lot of catch up work going on. Here’s an update on some of his activities since he got back to GBR.

Coyote Bee Yard: We lost one hive there and pulled a couple of honey supers still left there. No coyotes spotted. And no goats either (as we normally see and/or hear).

The Farm Bee Yard: The picture above is from the Farm yard. I haven’t been out there in a while with Mark so he snapped this for me. He pulled about ten honey supers off the hives there and looking forward to extracting them. It’s been amazing what this year has yielded in our honey production and we are very happy and thankful for it all.

Restocking: Mark has restocked at Ta’s in Marion as well Lily’s Cookies in SA. Also got that order to JW Marriott for the trip up to New York City (You must say this in that Texas cowboy twang like on the salsa commercial – I wonder if I drive Mark crazy sometimes saying that. I can’t help it. Our honey is going to NYC and it’s exciting and fun! And for some reason that makes me use a twang.) Back to business – there should also be a good supply at Gift & Gourmet here on the town square of Seguin.

Administrative Work: There’s a LOT of catch up work here and I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, Mark will be busy, busy, busy between the bees, balancing the books, weekend markets and moving. Yep. We’re trying to move and the big move is coming up this weekend. Wish us luck. [BTW, if you want my undying gratitude and if you have time to help on Sunday, let me know! There’s pizza in it for you. :)]

Hopguard: It’s time to treat the bees for mites so Mark begins the rounds tomorrow. Elm Creek is first and then he’ll just continue on with the rest of the bee yards. No more powdered sugar treatments at this time.

A new honey: Check out our new Texas Clover harvested from the Runge Bee Yard down south of us about two hours. Yummm. Very light in flavor and people responded well to it last weekend at Market. We’ll have to try and get more sizes bottled before Saturday. Now that Mark is back home, we hope traffic will pick back up here at the Honey House. Can’t wait to get our new Honey House built and a big, welcoming GBR sign put up out front. And a retail space. And a honey bar. 🙂

Texas Honey

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The round swingy chair :-)

While I have some quiet time here in Irving (just swinging in the bumblebee-like chair at the hotel), I was thinking how much I miss my beekeeper and my home and our bees and our new Bee Ranch and my friends and my kitty. I think that about covers it. I’m finishing up my second week of travel for my IT training job and while I have enjoyed dipping back into training delivery (really, really miss teaching!), I will be glad to be home again. I need to pack a house, after all!

Earlier during a break between classes, a teammate stopped by to check on me and then our talk turned to bees, which often happens once people get a taste of our beeventures and the honey. He asked great questions – how does the queen mate? How long do they live? What is honey used for in nature if we didn’t extract it? Do other animals bother the bees? Do ants pose a problem? How do you get a bucket of honey? Does it go bad? I loved it. I love talking bees and honey and beeswax. 🙂 And partnerships and sharing and fun friends we make. I also had another conversation with a new friend and vendor at Pearl and we’re going to continue our discussion in future about growing a small business. Mark and I had just talked about the potential of our friends’ venture and what great products they have but noted they had no online presence up to this point. We thought about how much they could grow their sales if only people knew what they had and how they made it. Well, our friend brought it up and wants some insight into the whole social media component of marketing a business. You know me – I love to talk about social media so I can’t wait to give them some information about how it has really helped GBR grow. If utilized properly, then social media need not be a scary, bad thing. Really.

Putting moth crystals on cleaned up empty supers

I have been wanting to share with you all something we are doing – prepping empty supers for storage now that the honey flow is over. That’s a shot of Mark at The Farm bee yard in one of the greenhouses not being used currently. Pedro is nice enough to let us store our supers there – good and dry cover so that is wonderful. As we finish extracting, the empty honey supers are stacked and then taken out to a bee yard so that the bees can go to town cleaning them up – getting all the honey they can off the frames and boxes. They typically do a great job within a few days. Then you must get the cleaned, empty supers and prepare them for storage. The honey the bees make from now through fall will be a darker honey from Broomweed and we’ll leave that for them to eat on during winter and before things bloom in spring. In the shot below Mark is putting plates of moth crystals on top of the stacks of empty supers. The crystals will not damage or contaminate the wax and boxes in any way but it will keep wax moths from eating up our wax. Mark replaces the lids snuggly and makes sure any holes/entrances are plugged. We need to seal them up so that the proper fumigation takes place. These frames will be used again next year.

Moth crystals to fight wax moths

Here’s a shot of what happens if you don’t get the moth crystals on the supers in time or if they are just pesky enough to survive the crystals – yuck!!!!!! No matter how many times I see these types of frames, I am always a little startled by them. It’s not the end of the world, however, and often you can just clean off the frames and they’ll be fine for reuse but me being the girl I am…I am ever thankful that Mark handles all this. He’s a sweetie to not ask me to work the bees and clean up messes like this and I’m super grateful! And sorry I didn’t get a closer shot…I didn’t want to really see it up close but I must note it is rather fascinating that those little devils turn our beautiful honeycomb frame into what looks like ashy webs. 😦

So your beekeeping lesson: Try and take care of your supers as soon after you extract as possible. And at least here in south Texas, prepare the supers for storage by getting a good amount of moth crystals (NOT MOTH BALLS) on the empty boxes.

Bad frame - wax moths

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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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Mite counting

Yes, these are dead mites, killed by our application of a natural miticide called HopGuard. The mites are the oval shapes, about the size of a pin-head. (The fuzzy stuff is the cardboard used with the HopGuard product. The bees chew it literally to bits and remove it from the hive.) Twenty-four hours after the HopGuard application I checked these white boards, which catch the dead mites as they fall to the bottom of the hive. I was surprised to find between 100 and 200 dead mites fallen from the hives at Elm Creek. The hives at the Farm only had about 20 dead mites on their white boards. The Elm Creek hives either had a serious infestation of mites, or the HopGuard is very effective at killing them. I’ll do mite counts again soon to see how they are doing.

Applying HopGuard

I treated the hives at the Pizza Yard with HopGuard on Friday. The weather was cool and windy with some sprinkles. The bees did not appreciate being disturbed in those conditions, and for this hive the HopGuard application was the final straw. At least they appear to be big and strong!

Showing our guests the bees

Today we had a knock on the door from a Turkish beekeeper and his family! The parents are visiting from Turkey and found us through a beekeeping association and our website. It was so great to meet them and to share our backyard bees and honey house with them. If only there had been time to take them to a bee yard. Maybe next year when they visit again. The father has about one hundred hives in northern Turkey, near Russia, and we have a standing invitation to visit them. This made our day for sure. Meeting wonderful people like this family is one of our favorite things about keeping bees and running GBR. You just never know who’s going to knock on the door or walk through the gate. And it is awesome.

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