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Archive for the ‘Move’ Category

February 2016 Agarita blooming

Well it appears spring is pretty much here to stay. That’s Agarita in bloom in the above picture. It’s a great early spring plant for the bees and they are all over it. Very awesome to see this. I was hoping for a little colder weather still as I do miss it even though I’ve been here 20 years and I know what to expect but I still hope for some crazy cold, long lasting winter. HEHE I know that’s not what the beekeeper might want and likely the bees wouldn’t either. Speaking of beekeeper, Mark continues to make his rounds to his bee yards, checking their statuses and feeding whenever necessary. Some hives are doing really well while others need a little help until the flowers really bust out. He’s also continuing his mite treatments as he continues to see mites in the hives. A follower on Instagram asked us if we do that preemptively or if we actually have mites and know it. I told her we have mites; we know it; most beekeepers, if not all, have them; and she’d be wise to start reading up on all the research out there on multiple treatments available. No one yet knows the best answer but it’s a raging topic and a debate at times among beekeepers and sometimes even with bee supporters who don’t know much about bees or this mite issue. I can’t tell you how often people judge beekeepers who opt to use ANYTHING UNNATURAL on the bees. We’ve now gotten to the point where we just tell folks that if we were really sick and had a palm-sized tick sucking the life juice out of us, please give us medicine and help us. We don’t want to die that way nor would we want to let our bees die that way. It’s a terrible issue and we will do what we can to help our girls. Okay, on to more positive news from the Bee Ranch and Seguin.

Overall and especially in Guadalupe County bee yards (this is the county where we reside so most of our bees are here), Mark’s been really pleased with how almost all the hives are looking at this point. Strong hives with lots of bees, brood patterns starting to thicken, more and more pollen coming in and good looking queens. This may be the strongest he’s seen the majority of his hives at the end of winter and rolling into spring. We are very excited about this!

That's a lovely queen we got there

Here are a couple of projects and developments that have us super excited.

Beeswax lotion bars. I’ve been working on this formula for some time now and I think I may have it the way we like it. I’m so excited to get a label for this soon and start offering it! I am so in love with learning how to make these new products with Mark and making it for us, our family, friends, and soon our customers.

Beeswax Lotion Bars at the Bee Ranch

Hive Kits for sale at the Bee Ranch

Our Bee Gear and Equipment retail area continues to grow and Mark is happy he can supply local folks with things they need to get started to get going. These fully equipment hive kits (three levels) have become quite popular now that spring is upon us and busy people just want to pick up the complete hive and not sorry about piecing it together, which they can do if they choose to here. It’s been a good learning experience but also a lot of work for Mark but if you know him, you know it also makes him happy to help people starting out in beekeeping. He’s a great teacher and mentor.

Okay, I am off to do some more body care product development. We both wish we had more hours in a day to do all the fun things we want to try! πŸ™‚

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First Bluebonnets of the 2014 in Seguin

These are the things I want to tell you about in this post. I have to make this list of three or else I will be all over the place since I have a million thoughts that want to be written.
1. Spring
2. The Honey House
3. Spring Open House

This could apply to many, many things right about now. Sometimes I have so many things I want to tell you guys that I don’t even know where to begin. Which reminds me that lately, Mark and I have so much going on that we sometimes feel on the edge of being overwhelmed and then we tell ourselves (and each other), okay slow down. Take a deep breath. Don’t freak. Make a list of the top three things you MUST do and go from there. Remember you cannot do ALL the things you have on your list/in your head to do.

Crazy eyes

Okay, it may just be me having those last thoughts. haha Mark is much calmer and cooler than I am like 99.9% of the time. I’m more of the Daffy Duck to his Bugs Bunny. That image came to my head as I was typing this.

Okay so did you see the Bluebonnets?!?! I spotted them not too far from the Bee Ranch but I had not been able to stop for a photo because the batch was at a pretty busy and somewhat dangerous intersection on Highway 725 and Interstate 10. BUT yesterday, I showed Mark when we were coming back from errands and he found a good safe spot for me. He’s so great to me. Anyway, it’s really exciting to see signs of spring – the Mesquite is even budding out now and many people believe that once the Mesquite does that, well, there are no more freezes coming our way. We will see and hope for that because the up and down weather patterns have killed back early bloomers quite a bit and people are sad about those losses. I was remembering last year when we brought back the nucs that all the Huisache was in full bloom and looking gorgeous (see picture of that loveliness on Flickr). This year? They still look dormant because what did start budding out pretty much froze off during one of the weird temperature dips. Oh well. They were so beautiful and abundant last year but still the bees didn’t touch it.

The Honey House on a drizzly night

And now a little update on the Honey House. It looked particularly special Saturday night when I went out there to get Mark for dinner. You see, it had been drizzling and/or raining pretty much all day! Talk about wonderful. We loved hearing it on the roofs of the house and the HH because the metal roofing sounds lovely. We just can’t believe it still – all that space is actually ours and it’s actually done and inspected and passed. And all we have to do is figure out work-flow and organization and then get our stuffs in there. We are SUPER excited about it and feel very blessed of course but it is causing some stress from time to time for the beekeeper. Poor man. So much he wants to do…tend to the bees, make candles, move into the HH, taxes (yay, almost ready to check this off the list), and then there’s life stuff. You know, we do try to have a little down time (a few hours here and there) once in a while. Here’s a peek inside (and no we do not have temperature control in there):

Visit to the Honey House one evening

Finally, I just want to mention we decided to have a Spring Open House since we had so much fun at the Holiday OH! Plus we hope to have things set up in the Honey House so we can tour y’all around. So, save the date and come visit the Bee Ranch! That’s a Sunday and the Open House will be the usual 2 to 6 p.m. More on that later this week (once I finish the flyer). Okay got to run, ciao and have a great day!

Update: Sorry, I got excited and forgot to say the Open House is APRIL 6. hehe

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Enjoying the kitchen window

When I am cooking at the Bee Ranch, I love gazing out the square window above the sink, especially if Mark’s out there working the new hives. When Mark’s on the phone, he often watches the activities outside also. It’s a great view of the trees and sky. Now I’m already missing some of the hives out there. When I was cooking lunch today, it hit me that many of the new divides were moved to their new and permanent home (unless they aren’t doing well, we don’t move hives around).

Moving 12 of the divides

Yesterday Stan and Mark got an early, early start and moved twelve of the new divides from the back yard to their new home, which we are so happy to introduce to you today – the Carolina Bee Yard! Mark chose that name because he said the tall trees at that location reminded him of the tall trees of my home state of North Carolina (GO PACK!). πŸ™‚

Here’s a look of the new hives out at the MooJesus Dairy Farm, which is actually part of the EverythingJesus! Ranch. Actually, they do a whole lot of a lot out there so if you ever have a chance, do take a tour out there. They open back up to the public September 18 according to the website. We love our friends there and what they are doing with the learning, growing and fellowshipping. Happy to be out there with our bees, also!

Our newest bee yard was established today: the Carolina Bee Yard

Here’s a closer look at the hives Mark and Stan set up out on the ranch.

New bee yard out at MooJesus Dairy Farm in Seguin

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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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

cow sniffs hive gonzales

And all the lovely flowers, too!

Wild poppy

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Small swarm

Since I am fielding calls quite frequently about bees swarming here and there, I thought I’d do a quick post on a few things that I have found interesting so far this week. First of all, a few words about swarms – they are not necessarily cause for alarm, folks! Bees are actually quite gentle in this state for several reasons. Simply put, they have no home at this point to defend and they are actually quite full of honey so who cares about stinging people. They’ve got to look for a home all while clustered around their queen to keep her safe. That’s right. She’s in the middle of all the bees you might see hanging from a tree, fence, building, air conditioning unit (yep, remember when Mark removed one a few years ago?) or some such place. Usually they will stay only a few days or until they find a new home. While most of the bees are clustered, some scout bees will venture about seeking the perfect space to make their home. Somewhere closed typically so that it’s easily defended. Anyhow, just wanted you to know this is happening right now so you know what it is and why you don’t need to panic. Next topic…

Isn’t she adorable!? When Mark showed me this picture, he knew what my reaction would be – delight. He knows me. I was delighted for sure. She was covered in pollen! She must have rolled all around the flowers. lol They can be so silly and so much like children in my opinion. I love to hear about them and see what they are doing. If you can’t see the bee with pollen dust, look in the upper left quadrant of the photo and see if you can spot the one bee with wings that look mustardy. That’s her. πŸ™‚

That's a dusty girl

In other bee-related news, we got moves going on left and right. Yep, the bees are getting shuffled around. We don’t actually move our hives around too much but when conditions warrant it, it happens. This particular move below was several hives going from the Big Oaks nursery to the Gonzales bee yards. You know how we love the Gonzales honey so here’s hoping they have a great year. I just had some Gonzales Wildflower in my cup of coffee – oh my it was delish. I sometimes forget just how smooth that county honey is – not sure why but it doesn’t seem to crystalize as quickly either. Too bad we didn’t make a lot of it last honey season – this jar was in my reserve. It pays to know the beekeeper, eh? By the way, the ice you see helped keep the bees cool during the drive as it was in the mid-80s that day. We don’t want them overheating while sitting on the truck. They made it just fine.

Moving more hives

Tomorrow Mark and Stan will move more bees – this time from Runge to a new yard they will establish in…wait for it…wait…BIGFOOT!! Finally! I get to write about Bigfoot; got to love that name. Here’s the sign I snapped when we visited the first time –

Bigfoot, Texas

It had such a neat feeling to it. Can’t wait to see what honey is like there. The farm we will be on is amazing. Well, the owner and his crew are what make it amazing. I have a Frio County Farm Visit Flickr set (of course) in case you want to see what the area looks like. We loved it and we can’t wait to work the bees down there! And a word about why we’re moving the bees: There isn’t much for the bees to feed on right now in Runge and they are looking pretty sad. We need to move them somewhere they’ll have some food so they won’t starve to death. This is what you do. You watch and care for them and you help them when they need you, which may not be often but this is a prime example. Sometimes we have people call us and ask our opinion about their hives. Sometimes we can help, sometimes it’s too late. Sometimes something could have been done to help the bees if intervention came sooner. So, here’s some advice for our new beekeepers – get in your hives on a regular basis. If you don’t know exactly when to check on them, at least read this blog or other beekeeper blogs and do what they do. When they check hives, you check hives. When they feed, you feed. When they treat for mites, you treat for mites. πŸ™‚ One of the best ways to learn is to do. So open up those hives and keep an eye on your gals! And few guys.

Okay, I think that’s about it for now. Not bad for a mid-week post. πŸ™‚ Now, I have candles to wrap for market. Lots of candles. Yay! OOOOOH! Forgot to tell y’all that we sold our first bucket o’ unrefined wax to a company that specializes in some very nice looking beauty care products. We’ll let you know how things progress. ALSO…we have signed on to be a participant at the Artisan’s Market being hosted by the La Cantera William-Sonoma! Exciting! More on that soon. It’ll be on a Saturday (April 27) from noon to 4:00 p.m. Can’t wait to share all the varieties of honey with folks and we hope to see as many of YOU ALL out there! That’d be awesome!

Okay, for real this time. Goodnight. πŸ™‚

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Nuc bees in flight

After a long, cold, soaking ride from Florida to Texas…the girls are home! We got them to Big Oaks with enough light left for Stan and Mark to unload all one hundred nucs. What a relief to get them off the trailer and set on their new homes. After they get settled a bit, Mark goes back out to transfer the frames into the boxes and then feeds them a supplement to give them a little boost – sort of like a welcome party for the newcomers. πŸ™‚ I loved hearing them buzz – so glad they survived the ride. We drove through some pretty rough weather – tornado warning and all the excitment that goes along with that (like a tree falling across the interstate due to the totally soaked ground, which we wouldn’t know about here in Texas). To see them flying was so thrilling! They were spilling out of the nuc boxes when Mark and Stan opened them up. Also fun was to watch them do their first flight right in front of their hives in order to get oriented. After that, they just take off and do their foraging thing.

I am still working on loading more pictures but it’ll take another day or two to finish. We had to get caught up on orders we got while traveling, not to mention all the house stuff (like groceries) and so on. Life. It’s just packed! But not too packed to enjoy these lovely sights – the Huisache is about to really burst with blooms everywhere. It’s so gorgeous.

Blooming Huisache

But here’s my favorite treasure that I spied while wandering around snapping photos:

Bird Nest in Huisache

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