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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Drawn comb on a frame

Often I like to go out to the Honey House after work, or any chance I have. We both really love that we work and live on the same property so we can enjoy this luxury. I was intrigued by the lovely beeswax the bees had drawn out on this frame. We have pretty much run out of honey supers for the girls to fill up. This happens when we have grown in the number of hives we have AND it is a good honey flow year AND the honey is slow to dry out so we can’t extract quickly in order to reuse the supers. If you don’t continue to provide adequate space (supers in this case), then you slow the girls’ productivity and essentially can miss out on prime honey making opportunities.

We are taking this as an opportunity to just let our bees draw out some comb on more frames which will be useful in the future. Sometimes people say or ask how we feel about forcing the bees to make honey by continuing to put supers on. Mark, who has kept bees for over 30 years, told me that people who ask that have never likely kept bees or they’d know whether we provide the supers or not, they bees WILL make honey. That’s what they do. And it is a real mess when they don’t have adequate space in their home to store the honey. I am always learning new things when we discuss things like this and he is always good about answering questions that come up that I raise to his attention. He’s so busy tending to the bees as well as managing the business that he doesn’t see/hear all the social media, email and phone activities since I try to field those for him. Back to honey-making…don’t worry, we are pulling some supers when possible but we are simply taking our time and letting nature take its course. Rushing never works great in the long run. Here’s a beautiful frame the men brought in last week.

Honey harvest June 2016

Do you like persimmons? I love them. Have you seen them in the wild? Out in a field in the middle of nowhere? On a ranch? On the side of some old dirt road you’re cruising to look for wildflowers or wildlife? Here’s another thing I learned about bees and how persimmons come into play.

Aphids on wild persimmon limb

Have you ever noticed bees going to a wild persimmon bush or tree? But you look and think, hey, there aren’t any flowers right now. That’s odd. This happened here in our area a couple weeks ago. The wild persimmons had already bloomed out earlier this year and Mark knew that but saw bees on the big bushes so he took a closer look and watched patiently to see what the bees were doing. He took that picture for me and for us to share with you. Those are aphids and I missed them at first. He told me that the aphids secrete a honeydew on the wild persimmon bushes and that the bees must be gathering it. You can’t find a lot of writing on the matter but I read a post somewhere that people say they gather the honeydew there for different reasons – some say they do it when they are desperate while others say they collect it regardless of what else is out there because it’s just what they do. Whatever the case is, our bees were seen on the wild persimmons. Good eye, honeybee!

Bee gathering honeydew from leaves of Texas wild persimmon bush

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Bees at the Bee Ranch bringing in lots of pollen

Here at the Bee Ranch, we keep ten to fifteen hives on-site for learning purposes and just to enjoy having them nearby so we can watch them whenever we want. Last Saturday during shop hours, it was a pleasure to share the bees (as always) with our visitors. The girls were bringing in plenty of their own pollen which was super nice to see. As much as we like to help the bees and as much as we do to make sure they are not starving for food and water, nothing beats the real stuff they themselves bring in on their foraging expeditions. Yay girls! BUT, when in need in bee yards that haven’t as much abundance in food, we don’t hesitate to give our girls a pollen patty until the wildflowers get here. Speaking of which, Mark saw Huisache blooms and an actual Bluebonnet in the bee yard last week south of town. I guess spring is pretty much here. We are in the upper 70s and low 80s lately. Where was winter?! lol

While most of our hives are doing just fine and many actually having the best winter ever (since we started GBR some six or seven years ago), a few need some TLC. We fed sugar/water feed and or added a pollen patty supplement with our pollen and a little sugar water to make this paste. Should be enough hopefully to get the girls to the wildflowers and other blooming plants just about to come out. With about ten or eleven bee yards located across the area, we see different developments with our hives. It’s a good way to learn and practice different things Mark continues to read about.

Pollen patty supplement on hive frames

Meanwhile, I totally enjoy watching and shooting bee shots any and all the time. This was out at Elm Creek last week as Mark checked the hives and completed his mite treatments.

Bees on backlit frame

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Bees at entrance

Well, here we are into November and there’s only 5.5 more Mondays until Christmas. Yikes! I might as well cover the next two months in case I don’t have a chance to post until 2016!

Today it is once again cloudy as our slightly rainy period began about a month ago. Prior to that we were bone dry and our ground had severe cracks all over the yard. I shot the above photo several weeks ago on a Saturday morning during our Honey Store hours. The bees were flying like crazy after a rain spell and they brought in such beautiful and bright pollen – it’s always so awesome to see them like this. Amazing and mesmerizing to me.

Beekeeping supplies

On the Honey House front, we have lots going on as we shift our focus more on all the new things we want to do and offer at the Bee Ranch. Our beekeeping supplies and equipment have really grown and we’ve even added a storage container in order to make more room inside for new things arriving weekly. We now have everything a new or an experienced beekeeper might need – from bee gear (suit, gloves, etc.) to bee equipment (extractors, smokers, bee brushes, etc.). Need a book about beekeeping? We have it. Need some frames? Got it. Can’t decide which smoker you want to buy? We have two and we can talk about which one Mark likes best and why. We are thrilled to have this opportunity to explore new products and to share what works for us and why with new beekeepers. We’ve been able to conduct more classes than in the past several years and we love that! You know we both like to help others and we both enjoy teaching. And of course, we both love to talk bees and honey so this is really becoming a dream come true for us – sharing what we love right at the Bee Ranch, which we love so much and love to share with visitors. We hope to see you sometime soon!

Happy to be home and working on new products!

On the Bee Crafts front, we have a lot going on as usual. It’s amazing what we keep learning and our biggest desire most of the time is that we have more time to explore, learn, try and try again! haha I’ve been reading up on bee crafts such as body and home care for about a year and have been experimenting with different products the past six months. Mark and I are so excited to have three new products we are rolling out: our first lip balm, a traveling tea light, and a tin of sweet tea lights for a delicate way to ease into cold temperatures and before we bring out the big pillars to warm up the house. We are working to get things listed on the website so be patient a little longer and give us about two or three weeks to get everything up and running! Meanwhile, here are some sneak peeks in case you don’t follow us on all the other social media outlets where I typically share day-to-day work. Enjoy and talk to you soon, I promise. There are some new workshops we are hosting at the Bee Ranch every Saturday starting in a couple weeks and I will definitely need to post the topics here. Free and open to all during our shop hours.

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

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We got about an inch and a lizard of rain Saturday. Lol he's so cute!

Well happy October, everyone! I can’t believe it’s here already but what a welcome change in terms of weather patterns. Mark caught this little guy in the rain gauge last week when he was checking on the rain we had gotten. Over the past several weeks, we have seen maybe 1 to 3 inches of rain each week and it’s made everything around here green again. The bees are flying heavily and bringing in tons of pollen. They’re also making some good honey for their winter stores and we are so excited about the potential for another great season next spring. Yes, we are already thinking ahead. This good soaking of the ground is what the wildflowers need NOW in order to bloom beautifully LATER.

In other news, we’ve been getting honey supers cleaned (with help from the bees as well as Stan and Mr. Savior), getting the home better organized (finally unpacking books and such now that we found some shelves), and preparing for upcoming holiday events! It’s about that time, right? We are busily getting wording and pictures updated so we can get the website caught up – we are so behind in terms of all the new products we haven’t had time to get listed. Well, we are now working on it and hope to have information to our friend Troy soon. He’s our awesome web designer who also happens to now have his own hives (yay Troy and family!)!

GBR Product Shoot 2014

Last Sunday we hosted our first vendor/member for our Pearl FM family! It was a great turnout and we look forward to having more of these so that we can all get to know each other better, away from the hustle and bustle of market. We are all so busy there that it’s hard to have time to visit with each other. This event was so much fun and we appreciated folks making time to drive to the Bee Ranch to see the operation. Can’t wait to see where we go next time!

Pearl Vendor Get Together

One more thing before I go…this is Mark’s third rattler killed. Thankfully only one has been at the house and now that we have spotted the family of gray foxes, we haven’t noticed snakes. Anyway, this one was at the Carolina bee yard which is located at the Moo Jesus Dairy Farm. Mark said it was headed into the garden the family keeps and he sure did not want it surprising them so he grabbed his handing garden hoe and took care of it. Thank goodness he had his snake boots on this time! Yay, honeybee! Good job, love. People have been telling us that they notice more rattlers this year so be careful out there, friends!

The only good thing about this is that I get some pics without worry about it being alive. It does, however, still move from reflex and that's a little creepy. #texas #rattlesnake

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Queen cups

Good morning and happy Monday. We survived one of our biggest weeks and weekends. Yay! Thanks to all our friends and family who helped us through it all, from working the bees with Mark to going to market so we could distribute nucs and conduct our advance class. Overall it was great and we appreciate people being so interested and eager. We did learn some things from a few interactions we had and we’ll be analyzing things moving forward from this year on.

I wanted to post and since I want to keep things positive for our week kick-off, I thought I’d just share some recent photos that make us happy, amazed and thankful we get to work with such amazing creatures. In the picture above, those are queen cups the girls have prepared in the event the need to make some queens of their own. I love seeing queen cups and queen cells. It’s so neat to think what’s happening in there – a little bee could be growing up to be the mother of her own hive. Think about how many babies she might have and how much work they’d accomplish in their life. Pretty amazing.

Next I wanted to show you a cool shot Mark got out at Coyote Creek a couple of weeks ago. This has never been one of our stronger yards so we are pretty excited to see how booming the hives are this year already! Maybe this will be the year these girls take off over there in Kingsbury (not too far from us). This particular hive was growing so fast that the girls made cells on the lid, using every bit of space available. The queen then laid eggs in those cells, which is what you are seeing now.

Booming hive out at Coyote Creek bee yard

Sometimes, when you break open the cells accidentally, it does allow you to see and learn even if it means those few bees won’t make it. Sometimes we purposely open cells to check the larvae to see if mites are on them so we can take action. In the picture below, however, I was thrilled when Mark showed me the teeny, tiny eggs in the cells! Loved it. It just totally mesmerized me to think about those tiny girls.

Eggs in broken cells on hive lid

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

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

Dirt on mushroom top

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

Cutest little acorns ever

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

Bee boards

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

Bees drinking water

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

Vertical view of powdered frames

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

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

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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. 🙂

cow sniffs hive gonzales

And all the lovely flowers, too!

Wild poppy

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4.5" in about 90 minutes

Well, it’s quite the flood this afternoon! At last check, Mark reported about 4.5 inches in about 1.5 hours. Amazing. What a lovely sound, too. The hard waves of rain and then some lightning and thunder. The line of storms looked pretty wide-spread and long running north-south so we feel like almost all areas where we have bee yards will benefit from this rain. Yay!

In other news, we are prepping for market again as we listen to the beautiful rain come on again. We’ve also had more orders for gifts and other things – it’s wedding season. Heck, this entire year seems to be wedding season as friends, family and customers’ families get hitched. We are thrilled that more and more people are thinking of using our products as either wedding favors, gifts or decorations. What an honor to be a part of such an important event! Thank you very much everyone! Here’s one of the testers for table decoration –

Mum in a jar

These lotus candles are destined for cellophane gift packaging for wedding attendant gifts and the hearts were part of an order for 24 to be picked up later. Not sure what the customer’s going to do with all of them but I’m sure they’ll let us know when they pick up their order.

Wedding favor ideas

And opposite of the dark, cloudy, thunderous outside is this lovely burst of sunshine inside. I got some sunflowers for Mom’s little prayer table because they remind me of her big bright smile! I love to watch the pollen fall sometimes – it’s so peaceful and lovely. A quiet activity you don’t notice in the field but is quite a sight indoors. I am thrilled at the thought that I have Monday off (Memorial Day here in the states) and that we will likely go to check the bees in Medina County at Comanche Creek. We have to pass through Castroville and Mark said that the sunflower fields should be beautifully open for me to photograph! I am so excited because I was told about that a couple of years ago but when we went to hunt down the fields, the blooming season had already passed. Now I have a chance to see them. Charging up camera battery NOW.

Sunflower dropping pollen on the table

In other news and activities, it was Canopy-Check Week around here. We go through them pretty well and it was time for the men to haul them all out to see which tent needs what part. Helped us reduce clutter in our little garage. Still no serious movement on building of the Honey House, which I now have the urge to rename House of Honey. :-p

Looks like a scifi spider to me. Canopy check in progress.

Well, I better get back to wrapping candles for market. Hope you have a wonderful evening, weekend and holiday! And that we see you at one of the markets. 🙂

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Black Brush in Frio County

Well, it’s been busy! Before we go to bed, I wanted to do a little update. First and foremost on my mind – we got 1.25″ of rain!!! It sounded like a train ran over our metal roof and it was loud like I have never heard it but it was awesome! I was so tired from work and then market and an evening event that I registered the thunderstorm, gave thanks for it and then went right on back to my slumber. Poor Mark apparently was up most of the night and then next thing you know – we were up at 5a for market. I don’t care what the sprung forward clock said, it sure FELT like it was 5a. Painful the first night especially when you are already beat. Anyway, we were happy for the market and then rain and the friends who joined us to help. We appreciate it all!

Secondly, things are really starting to come out – from leafs to buds to blooms. The top picture is of Black Brush Mark saw while visiting the Youngbloods down in Frio County. Todd says the bees don’t go to this even though you’d think they would, right? I’ve never seen a plant such as this – bursting with blooms. Wish I could have show my mom all these blooms coming out now. She would have enjoyed it as she has an incredible green thumb. Now here’s another shot I loved because I want to see it in full bloom and to see the fruit would be fun – the Wild Persimmon! I have a fondness for Persimmons as it is so these hold a special appeal to my heart.

Wild Persimmon

So pretty! That was in Frio County as well and I can’t wait to see if we get any in our own bees yards. With so many scattered across several counties, I’m hoping we’ll have a chance to see them so I can photograph some of them for myself. I love doing that. Next post, I will post some of the shots I snapped at Comanche Creek of blooms we are uncertain of so that perhaps you all can help identify them. 🙂

For the coming week, we have a lot going on. In a nutshell and just so you know what’s going on with the bee part of our world, Mark’s schedule is about to get real tight again. It’s the feeding, nurturing and checking of the bees time of year. We have to make sure the bees are as ready as possible for things that are about to burst. We need them out there foraging as much as possible but in the meantime, he’ll spend a good part of this week feeding the bees and treating for mites. We have been happy with the state of the bees and we are encouraged about the coming honey season, especially with the rain we just received. It was widespread and long enough a storm cell to cover most all of our dozen or so bee yards. Just have to wait and see how it plays out. Just like farming sometimes. 🙂 Even our nucs are doing well with their adjustment to Texas. We have them all pretty much spoken for and we look forward to our class and pick-up day on the 23rd of this month. It’s always exciting!

Later in the week, we prep for our markets as usual. We have a new employee we are training. Jessica (Or Little Jess as we affectionately nicknamed her – she’s shorty than I am. It’s true.) is our newest addition to the team since Lan will be leaving us soon. 😦 Won’t think about that right now. I realized we need to introduce y’all to our growing team (if somewhat fluctuating) so I will snap some shots of Stan, Jessica and Allison so you can say hi if you visit us at markets and other events. We don’t have a formal training program so a lot of what they learn is on-the-job. Hopefully they’ll not think we’re too crazy and will stay with us a looooooooong time. lol Seriously, though, we couldn’t do what we do (without really killing ourselves) if it wasn’t for our dear family and friends. They all really are amazing and we are blessed they believe in what we are doing enough to want to help us when they can.

Y’all have a great week ahead and enjoy the weather – it’s suppose to be a pretty week, warming up as we progress towards Friday. Yep. We keep up pretty well with forecasts since bee work is kicking into full gear. Good thing they have apps for weather tracking. Okay, goodnight. Sleep tight.

OOOH! PS – forgot to mention I am learning to be a candle-maker! 🙂 Mark is going to be too busy with bee work for candle making so I offered to take over. We’ll let you know how it goes. hehe

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Major Peña in Afghanistan with GBR honey

I don’t think there’s ever a time when I don’t tear up when I hear our national anthem. Ever. I came to America with my family in ’75 when Saigon fell to the communist regime. We love America. I wouldn’t be the person I am if I wasn’t here. I try and thank soldiers, active and veterans, for the service they have given on behalf of our great country. And if I’m lucky enough to meet Vietnam veterans, it’s even more special to me because of all they went through in Vietnam and then when they returned home. I want them to know that they made a difference and that they helped provide me with so many opportunities in life – many I probably wouldn’t have had if I was still in Vietnam. So here’s a chance for me to thank another soldier and for me and Mark to feel great about being a small part of making his day.

This is Major Peña and he is stationed in Afghanistan. His mother-in-law, Ms. Medina, wrote to us and said that Major Peña was so excited when he saw our jar of honey in the break-room. The label and honey gave him a touch of home when he read that it was Seguin, Texas. OMG! Did you just grab a tissue or your shirt sleeve? It’s okay if you did. When we first learned about this, I did tear up. I was so happy that we gave Major Peña that little moment and a slice of home when he is so far away. The amazing part about all this is that the honey wasn’t even his – someone else had put it in the break-room and he saw it there. Can you believe that? What a small world it is. 🙂 Mark and I are soooooo thankful that Ms. Medina shared this family story with us – thank you, Ms. Medina! We look forward to meeting you soon. And when Major Peña comes home, we hope to have y’all visit for a special honey tasting. Until then, we will pray for him and his fellow soldiers to come home safely and soon and we thank you for your service to our country. You are all amazing!!!

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