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Archive for the ‘Move’ Category

Boxes on palettes - ready for nucs

We will be picking up and bringing back 100 new hives this weekend so that means Mark is busily preparing one of the bee yards to receive the nucleus (nuc) hives. It’ll be like our little nursery while the bees build up a bit to prepare for the season. Keeping them all together makes it more efficient for him to care for them in a timely manner. Today he spent many hours getting 30 boxes fully prepped and placed on the palettes. Only 70 more to go. I told him I thought that was pretty great for a solo job while I go off to work in the IT world. And as we did last year, I will document the journey to get our bees and you will feel like you’re right there in the Tundra with us. All nice and snug. 🙂

So, with us otherwise engaged for the weekend, you know what that means – no Pearl or Quarry markets. Fair warning! Y’all make that honey stretch a bit till we get back the following weekend or if you really need some honey, don’t forget to look on the right side of this blog and check one of our retail outlets. They’ll have some of our sweet honey in stock for you (hopefully).

Something else we love doing that helps further our goal – teaching our Introductory Beekeeping Class. AND we got to teach together for the first time in many months (I guess since we started going to the Saturday Pearl market). I really have missed being here to meet the students and engage with them, many of whom go on to become awesome new beekeepers themselves. We always tell our students, we need help! We can’t replenish the bees around here all by ourselves. It’s wonderful when they get so taken with the bees they decide to take the next step. Speaking of which, we had a couple of students decide to try it out and we put them down for a nuc – yay! Here’s one of my favorite shots from class. I love how studious they look. 🙂 Mark was teaching them how to look for eggs that the queen recently laid – one way to tell if your queen is okay without having to lay your eyes on the queen. Why? Because it takes about three days for the egg to hatch into larva stage so if you see eggs, it’s most likely that your hive is queened properly.

Studying the frame to look for eggs

As part of class, Mark and the students also applied a mite treatment. If you aren’t yet treating your hives for mites around these parts, then you should get busy! This time around Mark is trying Apivar and so far, so good. There seems to be no ill-effects on the bees so far and it is clean and easy to apply, unlike other treatments we’ve used in the past. We’ll keep you posted on how things progress. Remember that he uses several different products and doesn’t rely solely on one treatment method. Read up on these matters to keep your bees as healthy as possible.

Applying mite treatment

Okay. I think I shall wrap it up. We sure have lots to do to prepare for our beeventure this weekend. I am the official travel agent for GBR. My dad taught us to route our trip, read maps, plot where pit stops will be (though with multiple drivers we rarely stopped during my youth) and other travel necessities. Mark and I make a great team. He takes care of the bees, vehicle and equipment aspect of trips while I take care of the comforts (packing, snackage, hotels, timing of when to stop and where, family visiting coordination, logistics for staying close to the pickup point for early pick-up and departure, etc.). Which reminds me, I need some good beef jerky for the roadtrip! Wish I had thought to order some sooner from my high school buddy who now runs Uncle Zip’s Beef Jerky. It’s good. Real good.

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Trucking on down the road with the bees

This morning, Mark sent some pictures of the final bee pick-up event of the year. They met up with David in Jasper – waaaaay over there in East Texas – and loaded up 52 healthy hives on the truck and headed on down the road back to Seguin. It’s about a 4-hour drive but with a heavy trailer, it may take a little longer. Last update they were already in Columbus so it’s the home stretch now. Once here, they will park the truck and trailer in the bee yard and then uncover and unload early tomorrow morning.

Below is a shot of the bee yard where the beekeepers all met up this morning in Jasper – it looks quite lovely and I notice there are the beautiful pines on the left. I love pines – reminds me of growing up on the east coast. Wish I could have been there with them.

Dec 2012 bee pick up in Jasper, Texas

Sorry the posting was so lacking this past week – we have been swamped with orders that needed to get out for Christmas. We were up way past bedtime several nights but we are grateful for the orders and the increase over past years. That being said, we are also looking forward to having a bit of a break on Christmas and afterwards. Hopefully it won’t slow down TOO much, but it would be nice to not be running on high-speed.

See y’all at the markets this weekend!

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No off loading of honey is nice!

We had a great weekend that capped one of the most hectic and stressful weeks in a long time; hence the lack of blogging for so long (sorry). First things first – we closed on the old Bee Ranch! Woohoo! Now there’s funding for the new Honey House and so we continue the process of platting the land and preparing to build. As much as we loved our last home, we sure are glad that’s all done and over. Hope the new owners enjoy it as much as we did! That was Friday morning. Then in the afternoon we did our usual preparations for market except this time, we prepped for two. In addition to the Pearl that we enjoy so much, we did our first Sunday morning at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market – had a GREAT time! We had as much fun as we do at the Pearl. As a matter of fact, several vendors from Pearl are also at the Quarry. And there’s always a parade of pooches. 🙂 Our favorites are currently at the Pearl, especially the Great Danes. Check out Harley in the shot below. If we saddled her, I’m thinking Lan and I could each ride her around. lol big, sweet Harley. We’re learning lots about dogs and their owners.

Great Danes abound at the markets

Okay, so about the grits – mmmmm! I love grits and it’s hard to find great grits. That being said, I can get the Shrimp & Grits Crepe on Saturday (Thanks, CrepeLandia!) and then a Kiss My Grits on Sunday (Nice to meet you Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!). I am one happy girl.

Kiss My Grits

And that brings me to the A-Team. Stan is joining us on an-ongoing basis at the Quarry so I can have a bit of a break. He and Mark make a great team and Stan’s learning many aspects of our little bee biz and we sure appreciate his help! Plus he’s so much fun so y’all be sure to swing by either market and meet and get to know Stan. Welcome to the family Stan (and family!). 🙂

Stan & Mark at market

And by break, I mean some time to tend to the home and things like groceries and so on. And though I still need things like breakfast juices and milk from the local HEB, we are really enjoying meeting and bartering with fellow vendors. The vegetables are amazing and now I have added handmade pastas, pestos and bread to the mix. What a wonderful life. What a pleasure to know who grew and made your food. It’s exactly what we want to do with our products and we’re happy people are so supportive and appreciative of our products and work with the bees. You can view more pictures on my Flickr page if you’d like.

In addition to all that, we have been trying to stuff as much “stuff” into the little brown candle shop at the new house and into the garage. Until we get the new HH built, things will be a bit crazy and spread out but at least it’s all at one house so that’s a much better situation – saves time since we don’t have to drive back and forth as we have been since September. We’re also developing new packaging, waiting on more candle molds (since Mark can’t keep up with demand between orders, walk-in customers and markets), filling orders, orders, orders, and planning for picking up more hives from East Texas…the usual stuff. 🙂 Busy, busy. There’s definitely an increase in orders and we are very thankful! Speaking of which, before I leave you, I want to share with you, a look at our new labels we just got Saturday. We love them! Easy to peel and stick and they add a very nice finished touch to our packaging. Okay, off I go to gift wrap beeswax hearts and Saddle Bag gift boxes. If you need host/hostess, coworker or teacher gift for the holidays, we hope you’ll give us a call. Heck, if you just want a gift for yourself, give us a call. :-p See you later.

New labels

Here’s the Saddle Bag gift box – $18 a box. I’m happy to say all the ones I made for the trial run at Quarry Market were bought up by some happy customers who needed ready-to-go gifts. Happy they chose us to gift.

The newly invented Saddle Bag gift set

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Wax melter is officially moved

Well, today is the official beginning of candle making activities here at the new Bee Ranch on Kingsbury – the wax tank is plugged in and heating up so Mark can pour his first round tomorrow! That’s good news because we can’t even keep up with the demand for some of the candles. It appears the floating flower candles are quite popular and after the weekend market and Yulefest, we were totally wiped up. As in, there is now a waiting list that includes me and my sister in NC. Can you believe it? I’ve been wait-listed! I’m happy for Mark and the business but a little worried about getting enough made for orders before Christmas. So…more molds have been ordered and nopefully they will arrive SOON!

It’s been sort of hectic what with the moving and cleaning of the old Bee Ranch. We close on the deal this Thursday so it’s crunch time on that matter in addition to the orders we’ve been receiving in person and online. Wonderful to be so busy but man, we are a little tired. Our goal is to get to bed by 11pm. Let’s see if that happens.

When we were at the old Bee Ranch, I loved having a kitchen window through which I could see the backyard and I could even see Mark working in the Honey House. I always enjoyed that. I’m happy that at the new BR, I can continue that practice though the temporary shop does not have a window. But still, I can see the hives and I can see Mark coming and going as he was when I was home for lunch today. It’s going to be really nice once we get the new HH built over here. And we can tell Smokey’s happy to have Mark and Stan working around the area; he loves company outside. 🙂

Okay, off to ready myself for bed. This beekeper’s queen is rather pooped tonight and must retire. Ciao.

Looking out back from the kitchen

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A gift in the bee box

And it’s about to get busier for a while. We are all set for tomorrow’s Pearl Farmers Market. If you are coming to see us, don’t forget we have relocated to the lot directly in front of the CIA Bakery (you gotta love that name – it’s really the Culinary Institute of America) and it’s only for tomorrow. After that, we’ll all move back to the usual spot on the other side of the stable. After market, we’ll load up for Yulefest here in Seguin at the Coliseum on Sunday – 10a to 4p. Great place to find some nice gifts for the family and friends. I want to get some of that awesome soup in a jar from Jett’s Jelly. Yum. Speaking of jelly, the box above was on loan and then returned to us by a friend. She also left us gifts inside! The eggs are from her hens and she made the most delicious blackberry jam I have ever tasted. I’m not even really a jam/jelly kinda gal but this was excellent. I hope she sells it one day so we can buy it all up. Danielle was a student in one of our classes and now has hives of her own. She also raises the yummiest chickens – I can testify to that. I am still talking about the chicken now. lol – just go check her site out if you want some great eats. Click here for Hanson Family Farm.

Mark’s been busy, busy. All week he’s been filtering wax and trying to catch up on beeswax orders and also stock up for markets. He sent this great shot the other day and I really loved it. Obviously he’s taller than I am and has a perspective y’all don’t get to see often in our photos since I see the world differently from my level. Ever thought about that? Tall and petite people shoot pictures differently. Anyway, here’s the awesome shot of his candle table. 🙂

The beekeeper's candle table this morning

Some of Mark’s other work this week included checking on and feeding some of the hives that needed it. Things are looking pretty good as he preps the hives for winter. He is also moving the Honey House over here bit by bit now that we have that new shed set up with electricity. He’s got to build a new candle table, however, and then we’ve got to move all those heavy buckets of honey! Looks like the garage will be our little honey shop until we can get the new HH built here at the new property. Very exciting! Somewhere along here we need to sit and plan out the space. I love doing that sort of thing!

Next topic: the “interesting” photos Mark sends me from the fields as he drives the country roads. I never know what he’ll send and sometimes he doesn’t warn me. Remember that shot of the wild hog’s head hanging from the tree down in the Runge bee yard? With the beer can in its mouth. Weird. I won’t post the two he sent this week but one was a headless hog (no one can figure out who would do that and why) and the other one was of a coyote sort of eaten up. Interesting. Made me laugh out loud literally. At work. Luckily I was alone. I think I may have screamed a little scream of shock. Maybe. lol

Oooooooh! I almost forgot! Tomorrow we are also delivering our first batch of Guadalupe County Wildflower AND Frio County Huajilla to Melissa Guerra! We are so excited to have a such an awesome new retail outlet in the downtown area. And besides that, we really like the look and feel of the shop, the friendliness of the staff and what Melissa does with the store. Looking forward to this new partnership. I’ll try to get a shot for y’all tomorrow post-market.

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Sue was a student with us

Well, we had a blast at Sunday’s Open House and already can’t wait for the next one! Hopefully by that time, the new Honey House will be completed as well as a retail space in the front of the property. We’ll see. 🙂 We want to thank everyone who came by to visit and also those who sent well wishes when they couldn’t join us. We really do appreciate the support and as Mark told a customer earlier, every single purchase means a lot to us as we grow our little business. Things are picking up now that the holidays are fully upon us. Even in our house I have Christmas tunes on as we work this evening. Smokey is out cold on the sofa. I love our cozy home.

During the Open House, we had fun showing folks our products and then of course the bees in the back yard. Everyone loves the bees and we love how gentle they are so that we can take people so close with little worry about attacks and stings. No one even needed a suit. I think that surprised many people. We love turning them onto to gentle honey bees. Nice when we can win fans over. We had one brave young man join us that day so that he could overcome his fear of them. He did fantastic! He said he’s no longer bothered by them and that made us happy to hear. Makes the work all worth it when people really begin to understand how gentle they can be if managed properly here in Texas.

We also enjoyed showing them where we plan to have the temporary bottling tanks and the beeswax equipment and candle making table. We’ve decided to keep the garage a fulltime shop. I’ve lived this long without a garage to park in, what’s another six months or so as we build the HH. I told Mark let’s go for it. It’s already a lot more room than we had in the honey house for storage and a retail space. We’ll make it work. If you would like to see the full set of Holiday Open House pictures, just just click here and have a look.

As I mentioned earlier, we are also gearing up for the holidays with more baskets and gift sets in addition to the usual honey and candles we package and ship. Now that we are at the Pearl every Saturday, we also regularly accept orders via the web and then people have the option to pick up at the Pearl. That’s working out well. Speaking of which, I have so much to share with y’all!

First of all, we are joining the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market every Sunday morning, 9a-1p. Yep! You can check out their website and then come visit us sometime. We are looking forward to it even though that’s about the last day we had free to rest, go to church and get chores done at home. However, Mark has heard my concerns about fatigue and he’s giving me a break – Stan will be helping us out at the Quarry so that I may take a break once in a while to get things done for the home. What a guy I have. 🙂 Lucky me. Hopefully, one day soon, I can help Mark full time and that would make it a lot better. Anyway – visit with us! It looks like a neat market environment and we are super thrilled to be accepted into the mix. We are totally enjoying access to fresh eggs, meats and veggies. AND awesome eats and then there’s the food (CrepeLandia’s at both Pearl and Quarry – woohoo for the Shrimp & Grits Crepe!)!

Secondly, we will be at the annual Yulefest at the Seguin Coliseum this coming Sunday. You can catch us there from 10a to 4p. We will have plenty of our products there as we have a double booth again this year. 🙂 I may even do some shopping myself as there are some nice vendors there with us. So, come do your Christmas shopping with some locals!

Thirdly, we got a new bee net! Our first one to own. In the past, when we’ve picked up bees, we borrowed friends’ nets. It was time to plop down some serious money for our own net. It was huge and heavy! I wanted to pick it up so you could have some relative size comparison. Don’t you love how Smokey photo-bombed me? Crazy kitty.

Our first bee net!

Fourthly (is that a word?), Mark went and got some more beeswax today! Thanks to the increased movement of our beeswax products, we’ve about doubled our beeswax on hand and in the coming year, we anticipate producing quite a bit of our own with our increase in hives. Mark will start processing it pretty soon as we need a LOT more candles for the holidays. Good thing more candle molds are also on order.

More beeswax

Okay, I guess that’s a good wrap of things for now. I don’t want to overwhelm people. I have gift boxes to make now. Goodnight and sleep tight. ❤

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Wild City Hive 3

I think you know what I’d say when my beekeeper asks, “Want to go with me and get some bees in a cherry picker?” That’s what we did early this morning on Seguin’s square downtown, just behind the courthouse. There was a wild hive that had formed on a pecan branch high enough not to bother anyone but not so high that officials didn’t worry they MIGHT bother someone. So…off we went on another beeventure. Don’t forget, Mark used to work for the City of Seguin so he wanted to help his friends out and besides, getting to ride the cherry picker must be fun! Sadly I did not get to go. Maybe one day. I’ve never been in one! I’ll put it on my bucket list.

Mark in the cherry picker 3

Up he went, high into the pecan limbs…

Mark up high at hive 4

He’s so awesome. I asked him to snap a couple of shots of the honeycomb up close for me IF he could manage it. I mean, I know he’s up there working and all…but I knew it’d make a great shot! lol Here he is, probably trying to snap a shot, balance the box, stay stable and not make the bees upset. And I want a shot. 🙂

Mark up high at hive 5

After cutting about four sheets of comb off the tree and setting them into the box, Mark brushed the remaining bees off the limb and came back down to Earth. He and Val worked great together and I thank Val for getting my beekeeper safely up and down.

Mark and Val unload the bees

The bees were then taken to our Deadman Creek bee yard and we’ll see how they do in their new home. They were quite gentle and Mark said he hated cutting them down but the first good rain would have likely killed them anyway since their home was totally unprotected from the elements. How odd of them to build out in the open like that.

If you would like to see the full set of photos of our beeventure, go to Flickr and see some of the shots I snapped. We loved our little beeventure before we both got busy with our other work.

I shall leave you with this – left to their own engineering, the bees made this perfect honeycomb with the perfect brood cluster in the center and then the cells of pollen and honey and edged with store, capped honey for later. They are so amazing!

Hive on the ground 3

We’re off to bed now (I know, it’s so early for us!) so that we can get up before dawn to get me down to the Pearl Farmers Market to set up shop. We’re expecting a crazy busy day (hoping, hoping, hoping) and luckily I have Lan and Cathy with me. Mark has a rather full bee class here in Seguin so we’re split up again. boooo…but there’s always the evening to regroup! Goodnight, y’all. xo

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