Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘honey’ Category

Scenic drive on Highway 118

Hello everyone! Sorry it’s been so long but we took some time off to visit our grandbabies and kiddos out in West Texas. And then it was bam, bang, boom as soon as we got back so I haven’t had time to catch y’all up on stuff. So much at work, home AND GBR. Be patient with us and I’ll do a fuller beekeeping post as soon as markets are over. Meanwhile, here’s a quick rundown of a few things.

We had a great visit with the kids, fell in love with the grandkids and witnessed a lot of beautiful skies, weather and landscape. Oh yes, and then there was the rainbow. Two of them. We were blessed to witness an amazing double rainbow the last night there and just as we finised dinner at the Lodge where our son works. Gorgeous and breathtaking!

Double Rainbow over Fort Davis Lodge

Back at market today, we introduced our creamed honey and it was met with great enthusiasm and sold out by 11am. Nice. We’ll continue to work on the formal packaging but we have my handmade tags for the time being. Doesn’t seem to be stopping people from enjoying the smooth creaminess and spreadability of the new product. If you haven’t ever had creamed or whipped honey, here’s your chance to grab some. We’ll have a few jars at Quarry tomorrow and try to get more together for next weekend. Hopefully, our project with Maeve for the label will move along quickly and I won’t be making the laborous tags much longer. Not that I mind crafting but there’s too much to do for me to be crafting! ๐Ÿ™‚

Earlier on Instagram and Facebook, I posted a shot of three of the new holiday ornaments we are working on so that they’ll be ready in time for holiday shopping – so exciting! We’re trying out molds and seeing how the wax might or might not develop a bloom over time, causing a little bit of haziness on the ornaments. You can easily wipe off the bloom and it doesn’t impact the scent or quality of the ornament at all but we still work on the bloom not happening at all. Anyway, we are just super excited to work with Maeve to develop just the right packaging for the formal introduction of these ornaments. Can’t wait!

Just love the sweet ornaments we're developing for the holidays! Sneak peak  for you.

Read Full Post »

Comb in the uncapping tub

While I do tire of the non-stop 3-digit heat days, I never cease to be fascinated by the beautiful work of the bees. Not just the honey but look at the wax they create, like art to me. I love to visit the shop and see what’s happening out there. I shot the above photo because I just love the different colors of the wax. Some darkened with use, age, light, etc. Still good, all of it. These are bits of the cappings we shave off the tops of honey frames so we can get to the honey. We still do it all by hand with with bread knife. We have a heated knife for this purpose but found the bread knife works just fine in the blistering heat (natural heating ๐Ÿ™‚ ). There’s a lot of honey still left on the comb so we just let it drip down into the tub under this for a couple of days and then we’ll run that through our fabric filter to catch debris. It’s amazing how much honey you can harvest from the cappings alone. We never waste a thing if we can help it. The cappings are then stored in buckets until Mark is ready to clean the wax for our beeswax products. We love it and I always tell Mark that even if we never sold another candle, I’m sure our families and I could use up all the candles he makes. We love his work! We can’t wait to show you some of the new things we’re working on for the upcoming holidays. Some new beeswax ornaments for the gift-giving season – you’ll like them I think. Stay tuned.

As I type, I see the clouds have rolled in – yay! Some relief from the scorching sun! It’s been a brutal stretch lately. I believe yesterday Mark told me we’re going on our 13th straight day of 100+ heat. Not unexpected here in Texas this time of year but I think we all still long for fall to hurry on up already. Anyway, whenever there’s a change in the sky, you get excited. lol even if, like yesterday, you don’t get more than 45 drops of rain, the claps of thunder and dark skies make for a welcome change. Sounds like I’m in a bowling alley. Very nice sounds.

Prior to the change just now, we turned on the drip hose for the new hives out back. We’ve been doing this since they got here and the temperatures have been so high. The girls seem to be holding up just fine. The bit of water does a lot to cool them and also provides them with what they need to cool their hives down. They fan water in the hives to create their own cooling system. Pretty awesome, those bees.

Watering divides at the Bee Ranch

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

GBR Check out page

It’s back and better! When the shopping cart went down on us a couple of weeks ago, the company that ran the back end didn’t even notify clients. Really! That is crazy business. Thanks to Troy and Mark working away since that time, we now have a brand new shopping cart with lots more for you.

Here are a couple of things I wanted to point out real quick since I need to go to bed for an early drive to SA markets.

You like the honey? You want to tell us how you cooked with it in a wonderful recipe? We now have a review feature – tell us what you liked and didn’t like (hopefully you’ll call us on this one so we can work it out together)!

GBR Shop Cart Reviews

Need to do a quick search since you don’t have time to browse? Check out the new search capability as well as the featured products for that time period.

GBR Shop Cart Search

Take a look around and tell us what you think. We’ve been working and testing but nothing beats real user testing. We also added several free pickup locations in the “shipping” section. Thanks for your patience and support as we worked through another little hurdle in running a business and having an online store. When a server crashes, sometimes you just have to sit and eat honey until the next solution is ready. ๐Ÿ™‚ We’re ready now.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner Sandwich

It is seriously hot out on the asphalt, in case you don’t know that. ๐Ÿ™‚ While we love going to market, it sure can get like an oven during Texas summers. I was pretty wilty out there today but I remembered to bring a water bottle mister that my friend Laurie gave me and it really does the trick for cooling down roasting vendors (I even shared with some other ladies). You can put ice in the bottle and that’ll keep the water cold so that when you pull the trigger of the mister, it’s the same concept as a regular spray bottle but its value pretty much sky rockets when it’s in the upper 90s and we’re all a hot mess. Anyway, something to think about if you’re thinking you might want to get into markets in Texas. It’s hot and it’s hard work but for us it’s also a lot of fun because we get to meet such awesome people and it’s a steady income for our growing business. By the way, I’m eating a delicious concoction from our friends at the Original Winner Winner Chicken Dinner food truck. It. Is. So. Good. The crew rocks so if you ever have a chance to try them, do and tell them we sent you! We love Adrian, Kenny and Mae!

Yumminess from Chef Luis of Humble House

The above picture is one I shot yesterday at the Pearl market after our neighbor Chef Luis of Humble House Foods (graduated from the Culinary Institute of America of SA and located at the Pearl complex) brought it over to our tent – talk about getting spoiled! This sauteed vegetables dish was so great with his tomato sauce. So put them on your list to visit as well. We’ve had their Pesto and love it but had not tried this tomato sauce just yet. And guess what – it’s got our honey in there! We are thrilled to have him use our honey in his product and even happier we got to sample the goodness. Now I have another dish I can recreate here at home for us. By the way, that’s red potatoes and bell peppers sauteed with a bit of the sauce.

Roasted Tomato with Asiago & Almond

Here is the Humble House tent on a busy day yesterday. Happy every time we see fellow vendors busy and selling out.

Humble House Foods

Finally, before I go check on Mark in the Candle Shop, I wanted to share this thought with you. After the truck gets unloaded, groceries and bees are put away, and while Mark balances the books, I got us a snack and thought of how lucky we are to have access to such delicious, healthy and clean foods. So blessed! And as I cut up the fruit for our snacking, I think, “Thanks, bees. Because if you don’t get out there and pollinate these fruit plants, I wouldn’t be enjoying this goodness right about now.” Yep. Feeling pretty awesome about the bee work Mark and his friends help him do. Thanks, everyone.

Why we need bees...

Read Full Post »

Hoang girls at Comanche Creek #2

All that and a visit from our North Carolina sister. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a happy, happy week at the Bee Ranch as we got to share all we do with another family member. Thuy went everywhere with us and did everything we needed to do as we worked with the bees, prepared for markets, made candles and so on. We had such a great time and we appreciate all the expert help and advice she gave us on the administrative side of the business. Thanks, Thuy! Come back soon please.

Now here is an update on things related to bees and honey-making – things are looking much better than a couple of weeks ago. Most of the hives in each bee yard are making a good amount of honey. With several days off during Thuy’s visit, I got to tag along on the yard checks and here are a few shots I wanted to share.

This is a shot of some limited frames of comb honey we hoped the bees would be able to draw out. Looks like they did it!

2013 honey

This gorgeous lady is holding a lovely frame of capped honey. This is what the bees do when they determine they’ve dried out the honey to their liking. ๐Ÿ™‚ That means it’s good for us also!

July 2 visit to Bigfoot bee yard

Then we let her try this year’s honey. It was quite awesome.

July 2 visit to Bigfoot bee yard

When we taste the honey, we do a little damage to the wax but the bees will fix this right up within a few days and we’d never be able to tell it’s where we dipped into the frame. Each year, whenever possible, you want to return frames in good or great shape so that it reduces the amount of work the bees have to do next year. They mend all the cells and reuse these frames. They are the ultimate recyclers.

July 2 visit to Bigfoot bee yard

In this shot, Mark is using the refractometer to check the moisture levels of random honey frames. Looking great – many are below the 18% point. Once the majority of the frames are capped, it’ll be harvest time.

Comanche Creek bee yard

Here’s some fantastic news for you Mesquite Honey fans – it’s blooming all over and has been for some time and will likely continue to bloom more. You know what that means, right? There’s going to be a nice bit of Mesquite in the honey, adding a nice, smooth flavor. Yay! This year’s honey has a healthy mix of all the wildflowers that bloomed on and off all spring and now into the summer – from early Bluebonnets to Indian Blankets to Mesquite and Haujilla. We are hopeful about bringing in a decent amount of local honey and we can’t wait for you to try this year’s harvest!

Old and new Mesquite blooms at Elm Creek yard

LOCAL HONEY ALERT! I found two locations where our local Guadalupe County Wildflower Honey is still available in case you need some before this year’s harvest is ready.

In Seguin, you can find several bottles of our Guadalupe County Wildflower still on their lovely display! Be sure to stop by there and tell them we said hi. Mary and her entire staff are wonderfully friendly and helpful. I love shopping there so if you ever need a gift, check them out!

Gift & Gourmet of Seguin

In San Antonio, I saw at least ten 1-pound jars at Melissa Guerra at the Pearl. That was last Saturday so call ahead and check that it’s still there before you head there although I must say parking is quite easy there at the lovely Pearl complex. Also ask them for the current pricing as they price differently from us (just wanted to give you a heads-up on that).

Local Texas Honey still available at Melissa Guerra at the Pearl

Read Full Post »

Local honey stock

…call for cautious hoarding. ๐Ÿ™‚ Of honey, that is. In case you have forgotten or you’ve only recently started reading our blog, I am not from here and after five wonderful years of only having to adjust to the long heat months, I was slammed pretty rudely by all allergens in the area. All of them. Like if I spent 15 minutes outside gardening, walking or anything, it’s more than likely I got a severe allergy headache within the hour. It had gotten to the point that I would forget about my allergies and plan an outdoor activity, only to reach for the door handle and suddenly realize, I’d have to pick between working/playing outdoors and wasting the rest of the day feeling miserable or just staying inside. Not happy. So…when Mark started hives again at the Krezdorn house so we could have some local honey, I was thrilled that after some time of eating honey, my allergies were very manageable. No more shots and steroids and antibiotics needed, not that they remained effective for me after a couple of years.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, see the picture above? It’s our honey cabinet (I stashed some vinegar in there since I ran out of reachable space elsewhere in the kitchen) and yes, there are lots of jars there. ๐Ÿ™‚ Last week, Mark pointed out to me that there were quite a number of local honey jars up there…AND?!?!? haha I must have them! I must! It’s my medicine and the thought of running out before we harvest this year’s crop was not a happy thought. I take about a teaspoon a day in my coffee and I can tell when I skip out on the Guadalupe County honeys. While the Wildflower does the best work on me, I am particularly fond of the Mesquite from both Guadalupe and Gonzales counties. Imagine my joy when I rediscovered a bit of it when I perused the honey cabinet with Mark. I think it’s funny we have a honey cabinet, as opposed to most people having liquor cabinets. Anyway, random thought thrown in for fun.

One of my most fav honeys

I LOVE this Mesquite. We don’t know if we’ll get any this year – it just seems like everything overlapped in blooming so it’s probably going to be all mixed in with all the other wildflowers, from Bluebonnets to Indian Blankets to Primrose to all the bloomed out trees and brush. Not that this is a bad thing – a mixed pollens honey actually is even better for allergy relief! But, I do love the Mesquite smoothness. When people ask us to describe honeys we have, we always qualify it with the statement that everyone’s tastebuds are different. And what you like right now may not be the same taste you like two years from now. Our tastebuds change over time. But if I had to describe Mesquite, I go with the description that it’s one of the smoothest honeys I’ve ever had – a little like caramel, little like butter…sweet but not floral. GREAT in coffee. Which now makes me really want to brew a cup of my favorite Dunkin Donut Coconut. Yep. It’s gonna happen.

I have to fess up…this stash is on the stove below our honey cabinet. lol

Local honey stock

Hmm…I’m trying to use up jars with a little honey left but you go with the honey that is best for what you are planning. If I cook (and depending what I cook), then I go with a bolder, usually darker honey such as the Huajilla or Blueberry. For coffee, I like a light one such as the Mesquite or Montana Clover. For Pecan Pie we’ve tried Blueberry and Orange Blossom and both have been very good; great flavor. I try and do Wildflower daily when my allergies are starting to irritate me though when I first started taking honey for allergies, I was strict about Wildflower always. Over time, I have had the luxury of switching it up. Besides, I enjoy all the other flavors so much!

Finally, I just want to say that we always appreciate our families supporting us in all of this. They help out, they order honey, candles and baskets, they pass out GBR postcards to friends and teachers and anyone who mentions they are interested in bees or honey…we are so loved and we sure appreciate it. We had commissioned one of our sweet nieces to paint several flower paintings for our new home. I told her to think about her commission, considering painting time, energy, thought and planning, materials, etc. She wrote back that all she’d like is some of the good honey her Uncle Mark makes. OMG, tear-fest. Seriously. What a sweetheart. So this is what we’re sending her. That darling girl. We are blessed beyond belief.

Bartering for art

Read Full Post »

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »