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Archive for the ‘equipment’ Category

…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). ๐Ÿ™‚

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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The sunlight made us all happy

That’s my indoor garden I’m maintaining quite well (in my opinion). The palm looking plant was given to us by our church family when my mom passed away this past April. I just really want to keep it alive as long as possible because of that and because when I left for college, Mom gave me a palm to take with me and I had it for a very long time. Anyway, all the other things are accidental rootings from friends at market actually. I always stick herbs in water when I get them home so I can keep them as fresh as possible until I use them in cooking. I’m always happy when I see roots sprout. So then I decide to plant them. Since they are indoors I suppose I may have to consult the beekeeper about q-tip pollination since I don’t have bees inside. They smell divine, especially the basil and mint. By the way, with the recent rains we’ve gotten, my outdoor herb garden is quite robust and smells divine, filled with basil, thyme, oregano, chives and

So I was sitting here about to blog and then I checked Flickr and it was offline! I link our pictures here most of the time to my Flickr account because it just works easier that way. Plus, it drives people to more pictures that I snap of bee stuff, because who wants a blog with a gazillion, million pictures that I snap all over the place every day? ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s what I use Flickr for. And Instagram. And Tumblr. And a lot of other apps you don’t need to hear about. Since I last checked, Flickr has come back online and since you came here to read about beekeeping, I will now post about bees and pollen since I have grown to appreciate it so much.

Pollen comparison

I love opening my refrigerator and seeing the jars of pollen in there. I especially am drawn to the difference in color in the jars. The one on the right is mine and Mark cleaned it for me months ago so I could take a little pollen each day for my allergies. I’m basically building up an immunity to the allergens around me. When I was growing up in North Carolina, I never had allergies really. But now I’m older and here in Texas, I’ve developed many allergies. The honey has definitely helped me and I really appreciate that Mark keeps bees if only selfishly for my own medicinal purposes. I used to get all sorts of allergy related infections each year and it seemed that shots and antibiotics became less effective each year, with each dosage. I have now been on regular local consumption for six or seven years and all I can say is that I am so much better! I can actually enjoy being outdoors more, even though I sometimes still get zonked pretty good with whatever’s in the air. Anyway, I thought I’d give the pollen a try and this year’s pollen is a lot nicer-tasting than in years past. If you’ve never had pollen before, it takes a little getting use to as it is earthy. Sweet but definitely an earthy after-taste; not bad and not bitter and not like dirt. Just earthy. I don’t know how else to describe it. Anyway, this year’s pollen is actually quite fabulous. Sweet and enjoyable. To me, this is so much better than a shot and some pills. Yay, bees! Another wonderful thing they do.

If you have follow us on the blog or other social media, then you may recall that we typically collect pollen and then keep it in the freezer so that we have some protein for the bees during winter months when they might need a little boost. Mark makes a pollen patty – mixing pollen with sugar syrup. It makes a mixture that looks and smells pretty good. And looks like sweet potatoes. Or pumpkin. As in pies. ๐Ÿ™‚ The best way to describe the importance of pollen to the bees is when we think of how important protein is to humans. Pollen is the bees’ protein. Mark says it’s their burger and I love that.

Smearing pollen patty on wax paper

This is my favorite shot of a good ole hardworking honeybee coming in with her pollen loads but she stopped and kept checking out the dropped pollen at the entrance. I guess she was thinking it was a shame all that good pollen is being wasted there. The different colors simply mean that the pollens were collected from different flowers out in the fields.

What a hardworking girl she was this afternoon. #beekeeping #texasbeekeeping #pollen

Remember that honeybees will forage up to three miles from their hives. They work very hard for all the nectar and pollen they collect and bring home. It’s quite amazing to watch them flying about, carrying their pollen or sitting at their entrance and watching them land and carry in the colorful loads they foraged. Very cool. I videoed a short look at one of the entrances for you:

The pollen traps do not harm the bees although when they find a way in that they’re not suppose to find, then things might happen. Like this. Mark opened this trap and we saw a bunch of dead bees. He’s not sure what happened, perhaps they got in that tray and then could not get out the same way in which they came. We just don’t know yet but he’s going to work on that trap for sure.

Mishap with pollen trap

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New beeswax ornaments - testing heat factor from Christmas lights
This is us testing the impact of Christmas light heat on the beeswax ornaments. So far, no impact. Good.

I never know where the days melt away to from Monday to Thursday night. Isn’t that interesting? Last thing I recalled, it was Sunday evening and I was relishing the relaxed hours after market and before the official work week kicked in the next morning. Anyway, here we are. Time to get tags together for Creamed Honey jars, prep supplies such as spoons and postcards, box up the bottled honey Stan got ready for us during the week…oh yea, and gear up to do a new DOUBLE TENT set up at Saturday’s Pearl Farmers Market. We are thrilled to give it a try and now we’ll have Sunday to rest a bit. We are on Quarry Market sabbatical until further notice. We have got to have a little rest now that the harvest is over and we just really want to be back with our church family for a while. We really miss them. So while we will enjoy sleeping until at least 7am one day out of the week, maybe even 7:30am (!!) and seeing our church family, we will surely miss our Quarry market family for a while. We’ve met some wonderful, wonderful people and feel so blessed.

On the beekeeping front, Mark is doing really well with his requeening project. Down to one yard left to be completely done. Yay! He’s been pushing it and is pretty much tired out by evening time each day but I’m so proud of him. Besides the bee work and candle work and beeswax testing, Honey House construction and some administrative work, Mark found a little time to check out some merchandise at our favorite home goods and gift shop here in town – Gift & Gourmet. They had a big warehouse sale today and boy did we strike it rich! Mark actually was taking some stuff to store there at the warehouse Mary graciously is letting us use and he couldn’t get in. Tough luck. lol BUT in the process, we scored a couple of awesome display shelves – one with lights even! That will show off the products very nicely we think. We also purchased several very lovely display racks and ornament trees. What a gift – we didn’t like what we’d seen last night during our research of ornament display trees and this serendipitous shopping excursion pretty much has us set for a while in terms of product display furniture. Nice. Oh yes, in the picture below, I did a collage of the three cabinets Mark sent pictures of for my input. We didn’t buy all of these but I still couldn’t get over the fact that they were so affordable and better yet, that we’d have many pieces of our favorite shop in our own shop. That’s so special to us. We love Mary and her staff and all the wonderful things they do for us as well as for the community. They are just awesome folks. The bottom left picture is the ONE shot I thought to snap of a display rack and the mini-crockpot is actually for wax melting. Smells lovely and will be going with us to market since our double tent will now have electricity! woohoo – we are moving on up, eh? I was so excited about personal shopping that I totally forgot to shoot anything of all the other super cool pieces we bought for the bee biz. haha, I am bad! By the time I got there and saw the outrageously low prices, I went into Christmas gift shopping mode for family and girlfriends. It was awesome. And fun. Things and people were everywhere. To get out from “behind the scenes” where Mary treated us to some special treasures, we actually climbed through the bottom shelf of a display cabinet. Talk about fun. And even Mark did it. He said it is a good thing he’s dropped 40 pounds recently. hehe Wish you could have seen us.

Shopping for GBR

Late afternoon brought a few customers to the Bee Ranch. This is a fairly new beekeeper who’s enjoyed his two hives so much, he is on the list for several more nucs come next spring. Love to hear that. Today he was picking up two queens so he and Mark discussed the direct introduction method for his new queen installation. Hopefully he will have as much success as we have had with that way of doing the queen intros.

Queen introduction discussion

Later I will share with your our other visitor – a florist from north of Austin. We have partnered with them and are honored and thrilled they want to share our honey and beeswax products with their customers. Can’t wait to post about that when the time is right. ๐Ÿ™‚ For now, I bid you a goodnight. Sleep well.

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Honeybees carrying in pollen

These bees were spotted carrying in some pollen earlier this week – yay! We’ve actually gotten a bit of rain here and there, definitely enough to make a difference since they’re finding pollen somewhere out there. Just this week, we’ve measure about 1.25 inches in the gauge. And Mark reported earlier today that Bigfoot got about two inches down there in Frio County. Nice! A fellow Texan commented on one of my Instagram shots that it is funny how excited we get over rain here. Well, it’s true. We do. We just don’t always get rain consistently so we get excited in drought years. ๐Ÿ™‚ And then we run outside to pull our potted plants out far enough so they, too, can benefit from the natural watering from above.

Rainy evening

Next up and in light of some cool (though not really cool for our bees) pictures the beekeeper gets for me when I’m not with him in bee yards and the fact that people have questions about what dangers face the honeybees, I thought I’d show you some of the things we’ve seen in our beeyards that might impede the progress of the bees (besides man). First, here’s the very gorgeous Lynx Spider. Though not poisonous to humans, I read their bite does cause pain. Quite a bit. My awesome older bro pointed out to me, when I told him this, “All bites cause pain.” Well, that’s sort of true isn’t it? Put it in perspective for me. haha

Got another one for dinner

Back in 2006 we had our first but not our last sighting of the awful Robber Fly – nasty and reminds me of several alien-related movie creatures. Poor bees – these guys prey cleverly, following the bees around the area as they forage. And when the bees least expect it, they pounce! Grabbing them and then doing their thing. I read that they pretty much drink the life out of the bees. 0_0 Mark has gone through several robber fly swatters as he smacks them whenever he can in the bee yards.

Something wicked this way comes...what is that?!

Back to spiders – the Black Widow seems to really love hanging out in the boxes. Not sure we’ve seen them feasting on the bees but Mark’s pretty sure they want to feast on the beekeepers. Thank goodness for good gloves and that the beekeeper and crew are wearing them more this year. They get in the way and slow down work at times but it’s better than getting a kiss from one of these ladies. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Biggest Black Widow I've ever seen

This one has got to be one of my favorites only in the sense that the spider is pretty awesomely unique. I mean look at those fangs and that helmet head!

Spider's dinner

One last one to show the cleverness of the bee predators – building a web right outside the front door! Poor bees don’t even see the web until it’s too late sometimes, although I did watch as several of the bees were able to disentangle themselves and scoot on inside. After a shot this, Mark got rid of the web since he had to open up the hive to tend to the bees. Good job, love.

Spider web at hive entrance

Okay, so there’s a tour of some of the dangers awaiting bees and beekeepers here in South Texas. Besides these things, we just have to keep one eye out on the fields around us – no bears but sometimes there are snakes, wild hogs, skunks, and such things. The fun things include wild turkeys, road runners, deer, fiesty donkeys (thinking about the hilarious one at Deadman Creek), lots of gorgeous birds, weird looking caterpillars and an occasional coyote or fox. Pretty awesome stuff to see. I’m sure in different areas, y’all have different threats and all sorts of loveliness to see as well. That’s one of the many rewards of beekeeping I would say.

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Tony & Mark unload burlap bags

That’s right – Facebook. Haha. One of our fellow vendors at the Pearl market is What’s Brewing, artisan roasters of gourmet coffee located in San Antonio (near the airport), and I follow them on Facebook. Good thing! I have wanted to craft with burlap in the past but found it difficult to lay my hands on some real burlap that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I know they sell rolls of it now hobby stores and even at Walmart, but I wanted some with character. In other words, I wanted burlap with a story, even if the story is that it held coffee beans. ๐Ÿ™‚ But what if the coffee beans traveled all the way from South America? Or Hawaii, like some of our queen bees? And how many people handled the bags and what are there stories? That fascinates me. Anyway, I saw What’s Brewing post that they have TONS of these jute bags and they were for sale. What? Cool! Mark had mentioned in the past that he’d like to use burlap if only he could find them. And like me, he didn’t want to pay too much since he’d be using the bags in the smoker. Burlap provides a nice, slow, cool smoke that won’t hurt the bees. He used to use burlap in the past but it became harder to find. Currently, in case you forgot, we use cedar bark which also provides a nice cool and slow burning smoke. Smells nice, too, and even though I had severe cedar allergies in the past, I have no problems being around that smoke, even when it blows on me in the bee yard. Anyway, we want to give this burlap a try. We’ll let you know how the smoker business goes. This burlap does have a vegetable coating on it, which may help prolong the burn and smoke but hopefully it won’t cause any problems. Today Mark did try a round with it but we’ll want to see how it does over several uses before the verdict is in.

loading up 220 burlap bags

You know what my advice is for you if you’re going to go get some burlap – account for it being bulky and dusty. And maybe you should wear long sleeves. I know that’s really hard to do when it feels like 100F degrees but man my arms and face got itchy. I think I may just be a wimp because Mark took it all in stride of course. He’s my macho man! I don’t know what I was expecting but the bags were bigger than I anticipated so I was a little surprised by the bulkiness. Just keep that in mind and clear your trunks if you’re heading to SA to pick some up. Mark got 200 and I got 20. With our market equipment and supplies in and on the truck, we sort of pushed it getting everything loaded but he strapped us in and back we went with our bags. And then we had a lot of fun going through the pile and pulling out the ones with graphic designs on them. I can’t wait to do some things once I have some time. I picked out some extras from Mark’s pile – love them.

Burlap coffee bags

They are so unique and some quite lovely with the details. I even love the information printed related to weight and so on. I like this for it’s unique blue, the only one in the batch I got. And the design reminds me of Matisse, one of my favorite artists.

Burlap coffee bags

And I like this one for the details:

Burlap coffee bags

Okay, so I think I should actually include a shot that is related to beekeeping. Sorry I got carried away with how pretty the graphic bags are. The majority of Mark’s 200 bags did not have the graphics but some did. We stopped by Home Depot and got a new little ax and then he rolled up a bag and chopped these rolls and now they are ready to pop into the smoker. Less messy for sure than the cedar. Day one went well; more to report later. Good night, all.

Pop in the smoker and see how it goes tomorrow #smokerfuel

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New divides check

Now that the summer harvest is over and equipment’s been cleaned (thanks to the awesome work of our Belinda!), it’s time to tend to the bees to make sure they are ready for fall and winter. We tell people who go through our classes or who buy our bees – treat for mites, feed when they’re hungry, check on the bees. Do it now.

In the above picture, which I snapped right before dinner this evening, Mark is checking on the new divides we have out back to make sure things are going well. He’s looking to make sure queens are accepted; he’s feeding hives that look like they might need a little boost (nothing much for them to feed on lately); he’s making sure he doesn’t see some problem that needs to be handled immediately. Happy news is that they are looking good so far; strong and doing well with their new queens that were recently installed. This makes us feel more confident that they will head into winter months able to sustain themselves into next spring. It’s what every beekeeper wants, right? To know that their bees will be okay over winter. So far, so good but some rain would sure help the girls make some honey for their winter store. We’re always hoping. At least there are more clouds in the sky lately. That helps keep us below the 100 degree mark which makes a big difference believe it or not. The mornings seem more pleasant and actually a bit on the cool side (don’t want to say that too loudly for fear it will change on us suddenly). Today only got up to about 94 I believe. Cool front! lol

In mite news, Mark’s been treating with Apivar right now and he’s completed Cibolo Creek, Elm Creek and Big Oaks bee yards. Each hive had to be opened and each box of the hive receives two strips per brood box. It’s much easier to handle than Hopguard and has proven to be very effective for our bees. He’ll continue with treatments with each yard; he’s got quite a few more to go.

In addition to the treatments, he also had Stan help him move emptied honey supers and other equipment out of the The Farm location and into a new storage facility – a temporary solution until we get that honey house built. Here’s our new storage at the warehouse our friend Mary is letting us use – we’re only taking up a small portion of the space but it’s a huge help to us!

G&G Warehouse

Another view:

G&G Warehouse

It’s going to be so nice to have our own space one day soon! I love it when things are neatly piled in their places. Of course, you can necessarily tell that by looking at our house right now but I do. lol Okay, here’s a look at the before shot of the former storage space at the Farm (this is just one side of the space we used so there’s some equipment to the right of the picture you cannot see here):

Moving out of The Farm storage space

And here is how Mark and Stan left it – nice and very clear, ready for whatever new adventures await the spooky-ish greenhouse:

Moving out of The Farm storage space

In Honey House news, it’s moving along! Engineers and drawings completed, septic system designed, building purchased and plans in review…things are getting lined up. At this rate, we are hopeful that the HH will be ready (enough) to host our annual Holiday Open House, which is usually in November. Keep your fingers crossed!

In market news, we had to drop Southtown market for several reasons but we are rooting for the other vendors that the market will be successful. We’re just pretty worn out, to be honest with you. The 7-day work week in the heat is wearing on us and let’s face it, while we’re not in our golden years, we’re not spring chickens anymore either. ๐Ÿ™‚ We need some kind of rest that’s more than the Sunday afternoons after markets are done. Anyway, we’re still at two markets and we hope you’ll continue to support all your local farmers, ranchers and producers no matter which market you support. We have an entire new level of appreciation for the growers of our foods and we feel blessed to have had the chance to meet all these fine, hard-working people who we now consider friends. Please support them as best you can. Thanks!

Random market story: We met a young group of friends last Sunday at market and one of them was Vietnamese and she asked me if I’d heard of or sampled a new trendy delicacy – bee larvae in puddings or porridges. No. I can’t say I’ve had it but I have heard of it and not too long ago, actually! A beekeeper in Hawaii that I follow on Instagram posted about the protein provided by bee larvae and how people harvest some of those for that purpose…that’s about as close as I’ll probably get to consuming them. I don’t see myself trying that since I look at bee larvae and I see a honeybee to be. Oh well, still interesting to learn new things.

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Gonzales Bee Yard

As the men drive to Gonzales and to our original bee yard there, I can’t help but be a little nostalgic this morning. While it had been a good place to start with, it has become so dry in that county that we need to move the bees in order to same them from continuing their decline. There’s simply not enough to sustain them on their own there so they’ll be moving to the Cibolo Creek bee yard as that location’s hives seem to be thriving. So in tribute to the good years we had at this yard, here’s some of my favorite shots.

In greener years, we got some of the BEST honey ever tasted from this bee yard!

Frame full of honey

Here Mark was checking on the honey flow of 2010.

Gonzales bee yard

We’ll miss the dogs and horses and cows. ๐Ÿ™‚

cow sniffs hive gonzales

And all the lovely flowers, too!

Wild poppy

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Ebert Queen introduction

One of my favorite times of any weekday is when Mark and I regroup in the kitchen and we’re winding down while we prepare dinner. During the week, I don’t often get to go on beeventures with Mark and I always feel like I am missing out on stuff. I try not to think about it most of the time and he’s really great about texting status updates and pictures to me and other family members. We are blessed that our families enjoy learning about what we are doing and they are constantly asking for updates. I use those updates for everyone on our social media outlets and I especially love it when Mark shares pictures, and sometimes videos, with us (lately my favorite it still the two fighting bulls out in a field). So here’s the story on our sweet little Ebert queen in the above shot. Mark casually told me this story while I was peeling shrimp or something like that and I couldn’t wait to tell y’all. Hopefully it’s as interesting to you as it was to us.

The twenty Ebert queens are tucked away in their queen bank and as Mark needs them, he can quickly and easily retrieve them from the back yard. There are currently about thirty newly divided hives back there along with the queen bank and the hives are grouped together based on when they were divided and when they need their queen introduced. The other day, Mark was introducing queens to two hives that he had not gotten to the day before. He opened up the plastic cage so that the queen could crawl out and onto the tops of the frames in that box. Well…this one decided for whatever reason, she needed to fly about for a bit. So Mark watched as she took flight and circled the hive in the area up above his head a few times. Now this part I don’t know that I would ever catch with my own eyes, but Mark caught sight of her a couple of times as she rounded so he stepped back about six feet and into the tree line in front of the hives. He watched as she landed at the entrance of the very hive he had opened. Then she calmly walked into her new home and new family. WOW! I guess she just didn’t want to be dumped there. That queenie was determined to make an entrance. She did it her own way. What a queen. He checked her two days later and the above picture is what he saw when he picked up one of the frames.

Here’s a shot of new divides in the back yard. I like seeing them lined up back there and I’ll miss them once they are ready for a permanent home.

Backyard divides 2013

Now I want to finish off with dinner, which on a market night is either leftovers or pizza or the buffet, whatever our energy levels happen to be. Tonight was actually leftovers we knew would be great because the jambalaya gets better with a few days on it. The okra was from Engel Farm at the Quarry market and I got it last Sunday. The chicken was an entire chicken that I got from Parker Creek Ranch who are at both Southtown and Quarry markets with us. I just love Travis and Mandy – really great young couple doing a great thing out there in D’Hanis (y’all look them up and try their beef, eggs and chickens – we have and it’s all been GREAT). The funny thing about the chicken is that Mandy called it “deformed” because though it was a very good chicken, it was missing one leg. I didn’t have time to ask for the back story on Deformed Chicken but I needed a small chicken since I wanted dark meat in my jambalaya so when she held it up to me, I thought I just had to have it – a small chicken with a story. That’s bound to make my jambalaya good. And it did. Thanks for the deformed chicken, Mandy. You are my favorite poultry vendor ever. See you tomorrow!

Jambalaya part 2

PS – The garlic toast was made with Cheddar Dill bread from Biga on the Banks, a wonderful restaurant on the SA River downtown. Their awesome pastry chef, Lila, is a vendor at the Pearl market. This was delish!

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2013 Mesquite comb honey

Above photo: Every time I see comb like this, I simply want to glob a big fat piece of it into my mouth. Yuuuum.

Ever feel like there’s so much going on that you don’t even know which way to turn. And then the next thing you know, it’s bed time. And then you the alarm goes off and you are at it again. LOL that’s us right about now. We still try and make time here and there to just sit or to visit with friends or to go hunting down historical STUFF…but it’s a crazy time for GBR and most other beekeepers are in the same boat, we’re sure. It’s harvest and dividing time so that’s what we’re all about. The weird spring turned weird summer means it’s totally different from last year, when EVERYTHING was pulled at the same time and we killed ourselves trying to extract before the honey went bad on us. This year it’s more like a little here is ready and then maybe a little somewhere else might be ready. Crazy year for sure.

Okay, here are some of the highlights as of late:
1. We got more queens in, this time from Ebert out in Iowa. Mark’s already used six of them.
2. With dividing of hives in progress, he now has 30 new hives, quite a few in our backyard awaiting queen introductions.
3. Went to the Marriott yard today in SA and pulled a few supers. Sponsored hives are looking pretty good and I got some shots of the activities in order to send out an update to our sponsors.
4. We’re still working on getting the word out about the Southtown Farmers & Ranchers Market down at the Bluestar Art Complex (Saturdays 9-1p) so help us out if you can. Sonia and Danny are working it for us and doing a GREAT job. Sure appreciate them!
5. Belinda’s rejoined us and we’re happy to have her help and her smile back.

Here’s the second queen bank Mark built for the 20 Ebert queens. They came in plastic cages.

New queen bank for the 14 Ebert queens left, 6 introduced.

Finally, I wanted to just tell you about how happy I have been to put all the blazing heat to good use out here in Texas! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s in the 3-digits these days and the sun is hot enough to fry eggs on the ground. Really. I saw a little egg drop from above onto our pavement and though it was not of the eat-me-with-a-biscuit quality or quantity, it was cooked. Poor baby birdy. Anyway, a friend of ours (hi Pete!) asked me about decrystalizing a bottle of honey he had gotten a while ago. I explained the typical hot water in a pan technique and then I said, you know what – just go set it on a table outside for a couple of days and it’ll do the trick. I have had our various crystalized jars out there (Remember my cabinet full of honey? Some of it had crystalized and while I like it, it’s hard to get the honey out of the plastic squeeze bottles.) and most of them have been successfully decrystalized now. Free. Easy. Pretty fast. Done. And so am I. Goodnight, friends.

Solar heating

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Attention to detail

I visited Mark out in the candle/honey shop yesterday and as always, I enjoyed looking at the bucket o’ beeswax, thinking about how that bucket you see below turns in the lovely creations we take to market, ship out in orders and gift to others. How amazing, right? That’s cappings you see in the bucket – this is what is sliced off the tops of honey frames during honey extraction. The bees seal up each honey cell once they have dried out the honey to their liking. Remember the 80/20 rule? If a frame in a honey super is about 80% sealed, it means the honey is pretty much ready for harvesting. Anyway, we have to remove that capping in order to open up the cells so that the honey will sling out when the spinning extractor is turned on. The cappings sit in a tub that allows honey to drip off into a tub that we later filter to remove big chunks of wax as well as bees who have gorged themselves silly on honey (what a way to go). But not all the honey is completely gone so when we melt down the cappings and run it through the micron filter to remove dirt and debris, there is enough honey left in the wax so that when you light our pure beeswax candles, you will smell the sweetness of the honey. It’s very subtle (unless you are like me and light about five at a time, or ten during winter months) and does not overwhelm a room like traditionally scented candles might. We love it and we love it when customers come back to pick up more as gifts because they enjoyed their candles so much. Great feeling. Still, I’m just always amazed that this is what it looks like at one point in the process. Of course, it makes me think of cookies and I want to just grab a glob of it as if it were cookie dough. Sigh.

Beeswax post extraction

Today during lunch, I treated us to a delicious new sweetness I’ve been wanting to try since I saw it last week. I picked up some delicious figs at the Quarry market Sunday and while they are quite delicious just washed and quartered, today I caramelized them in the skillet and then put them on my plain Greek yogurt and then added a big of Gonzales honey on it all. Oh. My. I liked it. Mark liked this fresh fig and liked the caramelized figs even more. We love finding new ways to enjoy honey and we also appreciate the opportunities to try new foods – wouldn’t be happening so often if we weren’t at market. Yay for local farmers we meet! I got these from 9-1 Farm at the Quarry. Fernando is super nice and hard-working, like everyone else. Can’t wait to tell him how much we enjoyed his figs. I’ve gotten lots of other produce from him in the past, including that super awesome purple cauliflower. Loved it. Can’t wait for it again next year. Tomorrow’s fig adventure will include comb honey and Brie!

Figs and yogurt

This was the finished product this afternoon. I adore fig preserves so that’s going on my list to learn and we’re wondering where we can plant a fig tree or two on our little Bee Ranch. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just a random comment about figs – I was at HEB today after work and I noted there were no fresh figs to be had. Made me wonder why they didn’t have any.

This little figgy

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