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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

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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All set (mostly) for tomorrow's Open House

Well, we are finally cleaned up and ready for bed. But not before I post a little on what we’ve been doing. I was wondering earlier about all the “famous and successful” businesses that started out in garages. You know, I’m too tired to go Google it and I have set a time limit on how late I can stay up to write this so I’ll keep moving. You know what I mean about the garage. We all have to start and sometimes restart somewhere and here’s where we’re at – our new Bee Ranch at 2745 W. Kingsbury. We’re now on the edge of town. Feels like the country sometimes since we are no longer about ten feet from our neighbors and we regularly have deer grazing on and running through the front to the back yard and then on to the eleven acres behind our property. 🙂 We will miss the good ole house on Krezdorn and people will have to adjust their coordinates for picking up our products, but we are really just ten minutes from where we used to be and right down the street from Interstate 10 AND Granzin’s Meat Market. What more could you ask for?

So, here’s your chance to see our restart. The Krezdorn house is under contract now, which means we seriously need to start emptying out the Honey House (not to mention our attic, still). When it came time to decide about events such as daily drop-bys from customers and the open house event, it seemed like the right time to go ahead and transition things over to the new Bee Ranch. We are happy to say we had our first shoppers stop by for BLACK FRIDAY shopping – we weren’t even having any specials but they sure didn’t mind. We appreciated their support as well as another big order I took over the phone. It’s that gift-giving time of year and we’re happy people are picking up our honey and wax products for family and friends. Tomorrow we’ll open our garage doors for any of you who’d like to do a little shopping, a little visiting and a little munching. We’ll have light snacks and some hot cider. Mark and I will be happy to show you our vision for the new Bee Ranch – Where will the honey house sit? Where might the retail shop be located? Where will Mark make his gorgeous candles? Where will Stan bottle honey? Which boots will I wear to tromp around the property in search of photo opportunities? If you swing by here tomorrow, we can show you where all this and more will happen. AND Smokey will be so happy to see you! He may run around the yard in a frenzy from the joy of having people visit us again. I think he’s really missed seeing people for classes and drop-by customers. Poor cat, like Lan and I don’t give him enough attention and snuggles.

Here’s a look at some of the handiwork from setup activities this evening. We just want to say a great big THANK YOU to my sis Lan. Boy, she is a worker bee to the max. Helped us out at the Pearl Farmers Market then came to Seguin in the evening to hang out and help us set up for tomorrow. We love working with family members and have enjoyed her feedback in addition to her hard work. We even had a video call with my other sis Thuy in NC to show her what we were doing – she loves our products and events as much as we do although today she told me that she thinks she gets more excited about our Pearl adventures than I do. How lovely that so many people, especially family members, care so much about what we do and how we do that they text and call afterwards to see how things went. It’s so awesome!

3rd Annual Holiday Open House at GBR

Okay, I’ve exceeded my time limit by three minutes. Oops. Gotta go to bed now so y’all sleep tight and come visit us!

Oh! The bees are here also! I know a lot of you love to see them. So there. Okay, this time I am really stopping. 🙂

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Lan talking bees

After another busy week and another two-event day, I am in my pajamas already and Smokey is crashed out on his current favorite spot while he is recovering from some injury he picked up while I was gone. Poor little guy. I bet if he was able to join bee class this morning, that would have cheered him up. Lan and I handled the Pearl market as Mark had seven students join him for class here in Seguin. Ah, I miss doing the classes with Mark. While we are blessed to be so busy and to have so many new opportunities, we always miss working events together. Sigh. The price of success I guess. 🙂 Here’s a shot from class today.

Nov 17 2012 Bee Class in Seguin

At least we have the evenings together. Tonight we were suppose to go to a Chucho Valdez concert and we were both so excited but unfortunately, I was really exhausted and an earlier migraine post-market really wiped me out (even after sleeping it off for three hours). Mark is pretty beat as well so we thought it’d be best to not push it by rushing to SA to catch Chucho. We’ll have to catch him again when we can. 😦 Instead, we had a nice, quiet dinner out and now we are both doing a bit of administrative work as we watch the Spurs beat up on the Denver Nuggets. AND we are sipping on some yummy hot chocolate topped with marshmallows and a touch of cinnamon AND we are nibbling on the delicious Texas Honey Caramel Truffles that Ms. Chocolatier dropped off at our booth today at market. They are a fellow vendor at the Pearl and they used some of our honey in this magnificent creation. Has a touch of sea salt on top – SCRUMPTIOUS. Is chocolate on chocolate too much? Impossible.

Chocolates with a touch of our honey

One ore thing…guess what time it is? Besides turkey time, it’s time for our annual Holiday Open House! I know, it feels like it was just yesterday that we were all trying to keep warm and dry in the tiny little Honey House on Krezdorn while it poured down cold rain on Seguin last year. Right? Well, here we are again. Gearing up for holiday shoppers who have already started placing their orders. We’d love to see you here at our new Bee Ranch on Kingsbury. We’ll have some yummy, light snacks and plenty of time to talk gift-giving ideas with you if you have time to shop local with us.

2012 Open House

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Mark showing bees at Pearl July 21

It was another great and super-busy four hours this morning at the Pearl Farmers Market and I didn’t fail to look at the clock two hours into it but feeling like it must be at least three hours into it. Not that we didn’t enjoy ourselves – we did! Especially with my sister Lan now joining us at the market when she can. We sure did appreciate her help because we were bless-fully swamped!

Here are a few things we noted from today’s activities:
1. The observation hive continues to be a huge hit and draws people of all ages to the booth. Nothing beats watching the queen bee lay eggs and for us to be able to point to the frame and explain how the honey goes from there to a tank to a bottle gets the point of freshness across quite easily. It’s fun to educate people.
2. Lan really knows how to sell! Not that I’m surprised because I know she has tons of retail experience and she’s also been working in the hotel industry so she’s all about great customer service. We both really appreciate her attention to detail and her products display skills. What’s awesome on top of all that is that she hasn’t been to one of our classes yet (though she will in the fall when we resume) nor has she had time to spend a great deal of time working the bees with us. But she sure can listen to what we say to customers and then repeats it herself and sounds like she’s been doing it for years. She rocks. She’s as outgoing as David is so we can’t wait for them to meet and work together. We think on those days they will probably sell out of honey and beeswax.
3. Speaking of beeswax, it continues to be a great seller at the market! Who knew? Typically, consumers have not bought a lot of beeswax during the summer. Not sure why but we suspect it’s just hot and how really things of burning candles or melting beeswax in 100 degree weather, right? Besides candle-making beekeepers. Well, people in SA sure do like their beeswax and beeswax candles. We sold quite a bit last weekend and we did so again today. Below is a shot of some of the wax products we took to market today.

Beeswax at the Pearl July 21

Finally, here’s a parting shot for the evening. I went with Mark to return the observation hive bees to their home at Deadman Creek so I decided to start practicing with my new tiny macro lens I got last week for the iPhone. It cost about $11, compared to a $1000 Nikon macro lens. Yea, we’ll be okay with the iPhone lens for a while. 🙂 I think it’ll be fun to shoot with it for a while. It’s not perfect or even super-awesome, by any means, but it will allow me to get some close-ups of bees, wax, and super-tiny flowers like the Bee Brush, which is blooming abundantly right now after last week’s rain. I usually can’t get a great close-up of the blooms with my regular Nikon lens because it’s hard to capture white and the flowers are very small and bunched together. I’m happy with this shot for now. Hope you like it and that you sleep well tonight.

Bee brush macro July 2012

Thank you so much to all the fine folks we met today. We had a blast making new friends and also getting to see more and more of our dear SA friends. I have really missed a lot of you and I am so happy when y’all stop by the booth to see us. Really makes my morning so thank you, thank you! Okay, before I got to bed, I have to share with you one of our favorite vendors (already) – the crepes folks of Crepelandia. Oh my. We are addicted.

Mark’s choice –
Strawberry crepes

My choice –
Sunrise Crepe - tomato, spinach, avocado, etgg, cheese

Okay. Now for real, goodnight.

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Mark provides honey samples for customers

It’s another wrap on another busy weekend for GBR. We had a GREAT time at the Pearl – Mark and I worked it together and had a blast. Other vendors helped us with our single tent – we always have trouble! I told Mark we need to drill setting up and breaking down the tent. He said that’s a great idea…in our spare time, we’ll do that. haha Anyway, it was well-organized and people actually politely waited until the official start bell rang before making us work the money exchange. It was hot and humid which will make us really appreciate the fall and winter I bet. At one point when we had a breather, Mark relieved me and manned the booth solo so I could do a quick run around to see what we might want from other vendors. I wanted everything! But I stuck with only cucumbers, tomatoes and some awesome peaches. Mark later got us a very yummy gluten-free strawberry crepe. AWESOME.

Later, after we had a crazy spell of non-stop talking, honey-tasting and money-swapping, Mark and I looked at each other and wondered what time it was. We both thought it was past 11:00 a.m. It was 9:53 a.m. lol It was insanely busy compared to other similar events we’ve attended. We loved it. And at the end of the morning, another vendor asked us how we did and said it was sort of a slow day. WOW. We far exceeded our expectations so I can’t imagine what a “busy” day would have been. Next weekend we’re back bright and early and we’ll have the help of my sister – retail queen. We are thrilled to have Lan joining us when she can. So great when our family members get excited about what we’re doing and want to help. We appreciate it so much and we enjoy having them be a part of things. It’s so fun and exciting!

And finally a word about being a foodie. Are you a foodie? Do you know a foodie? Have you ever heard of the word foodie? 🙂 I’m a foodie and if you haven’t figured that out, then you just haven’t been through my full Flickr account, especially my food set. If you look up foodie, you typically find definitions around the idea that a foodie is a “particular class of aficionado of food and drink.” I don’t believe in snobbery so I define foodie as anyone who appreciates food – the fine art of creating something delicious, something good for you, something that just takes your breath away when you look at it. That’s me. I sometimes let my food get cold because I took too many pictures. 🙂 Anyway, all that to say we got a nice mention in today’s foodie article in the Seguin Gazette. Nice picture, double chin and wet hair from the downpour. But who cares?? We got some additional mention in the paper and that’s always nice. I do want to say one thing after reading it – here at GBR, we never decrystalize any honey in the microwave. When people ask about what to do about it, we always explain the hot-water-in-a-pot-with-a-lid-on-it method. Works but you must be patient. Microwaving is iffy – burning is quite easy to do and it’s just best if you don’t. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that we don’t use the microwave at all when it comes to honey. As a matter of fact, we don’t really have a problem with crystalized honey in this house. If you’ve read previous posts, you know what I do with crystalized honey! It’s the new “pearl cream” of the modern era!

Have a great week ahead, everyone!

GBR in the foodie section of the Seguin Gazette

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Honeybee on Purple Sage

It’s been a busy, busy week and we need to get ourselves to bed since we need to get up by 5am tomorrow morning but first I must do a quick post. This week was filled with some much needed and welcome rain! Lots. The skies were moody and the rain would sometimes be gentle sprinkles and at other times be torrential. And the rumbling thunder was so wonderfully exciting. I love rumbles. I must admit that yesterday there was a clap so loud above us that I screamed out as I was startled. I cracked myself up and had to call Mark just to tell him how silly I felt. 🙂 The Purple Sage bushes are all blossomed and bursting with color. This morning I paused to snap a few wonderful shots of the blooms as well as the bees buzzing all around the bush. It’s so neat when the bush is alive with bees.

Props shopping at Crate & Barrel

Earlier this week I went shopping at Crate & Barrel to see about things for the new house but instead I found some adorable dishes that would be super for photo shoots of honey and bee inspired photos. I’m already enjoying the ones I did purchase and I’m sure you’ll see them in future shots.

Tomorrow we head on over to San Antonio for our first market at the Pearl Farmers Market and we are very excited! With Mark working full time now (and me too still), we tried to do as much prep work as possible earlier in the week so that we wouldn’t be up until 1am tonight. We are too old to do the all-nighters a certain beekeeper keeps suggesting. LOL

Okay that’s a wrap for now. We hope to see some of you at the market tomorrow because besides us, there are so many wonderful vendors out there. As Mark said to me, the goal tomorrow is to make sure we leave the market having made more money than what we spend at other booths. We’ll try! And I’ll write a report for you either tomorrow evening (if we’re not totally wiped out) or Sunday. Have a great weekend!

Here’s a parting shot for you – look who’s coming with us to the market!

Found the queen

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Capped honey frame

So much is going on but I wanted to take a few blinks away from the Spurs/Clippers game (ugh) to catch y’all up on some of the things we’ve been doing lately. Okay, where to start…

In the top picture, we had a nice, intimate class for two newlyweds who were delightful – hi Jess and Adam! We were expecting more folks but were fine with our cozy class. Makes it more like a conversation, as Mark put it and I agree. It allows for more interactive participation with the students and they get to ask all the questions they want as well as spend more time handling the bees. As part of this class, we actually got to show them actual harvesting activities such as uncapping the honey frames as Mark is doing in the picture. It is delicious and we are pulling about 500 pounds in this first dry-run of harvest. The big one should come in about two weeks so get ready for some local Wildflower that is amazingly light in color and taste. YUM. Sorry folks but we got the first bottle. 🙂 Hope you don’t mind. Call it taste test so that we make sure it’s good enough to share. It is.

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And it’s also fun to photograph.

Guadalupe County Wildflower 2012

Friday night Mark and I went to the wonderful Winemaker Dinner at the JW Marriott’s 18 Oaks restaurant. One word about the night: WONDERFUL. The chefs used GBR honey in the first course on the quail and it was very exquisite – tender quail with a little honey drizzled on there. It didn’t make it too sweet at all. I liked it a lot. And besides the whole taste-good factor – quails are so cute. Like tiny, tiny little chickens. 🙂 I think my new friend Marlys and I agreed the “drumstick” was the cutest little leg ever. Hi Marlys!

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As you can tell, I almost forgot to snap a picture of the cute quail before I devoured it. Must have been all the wine. There were two companies represented – Folio (Mondavi family of California) and Llano Estacado of Texas – and each representative spoke a bit on the wines. All I know was that the food was superb and perfectly portioned so that we were not overly stuffed. And somehow I managed to not be too tipsy considering we do not typically drink much. It was fun to sample such different wines and to see what goes well with different foods. Thank you, honey bee, for the wonderful Mother’s Day gift – you are so thoughtful and you really got me through that difficult weekend quite fine. I’m such a lucky gal!

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Full shot of the newer hives at the Farm

After about a week of dreary weather, the sun shined brightly today and it turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day in the neighborhood so you know what that means – bee work! The picture above is the second of two locations of hives we have at My Father’s Farm on Highway 123. We usually just call it The Farm bee yard now for short. Mark and David picked this location for the fifty or so hives they brought back from East Texas last year. Then they move hives to other yards as they are ready. Hard to believe how different everything is this year compared to last year. They actually made up twenty new hives last week out of this yard. Very nice. We’re going to need more bees to make honey with all the beautiful flowers we have popping up everywhere!

I saw some really wonderful things today and I can post all the shots I would like to so I’m going to point you to the Flickr set for The Farm bee yard. You can see what I saw today. 🙂 Meanwhile, let me hit the highlights for you here. The Bluebonnets are here! The Bluebonnets are here! Now, they are only just starting to come out, but it’s lovely to see them sprinkled here and here. I especially love that the bees are getting after the pollen on the blooms. I think that pollen is the red we see them carrying in. Speaking of which, they are carrying in a great amount of pollen – it’s so nice to see our bees gearing up for spring! Things are really just about to burst around here. Last year, Mark reminded me it was already about 90 degrees this time of the year. I’m so glad this year has brought us abundant rain to catch up from the drought and the temperatures have been very pleasant. No complaints here!

Bee on Bluebonnet 3

For a while, I watched Mark introduce his Big Island queens from Hawaii – he had about eighteen to do I believe. The caged queens have been in there two days now and so Mark took out the cork and put in a candy stopper for each queen. Now she and her assistants will eat their way out just as the hive bees will also eat their way in to release her. It’s so neat to learn the whole queen introduction process Mark goes through each time with each queen. You really have to be patient so that you don’t rush the introduction and in that way, the bees will have time to adjust to and accept their new queen. There was one incident of taking eyes away from the cage for a second or two to switch out the stoppers and then poof – she disappeared on Mark! Poor thing. We couldn’t find her but fortunately he had an extra queen.

Taking out the cork on the queen cage 4

Have you ever seen a bee come out of it’s cell for the first time? It’s really neat to watch and you have to be super patient (gee, beekeeping = patience I guess) because it just takes time to watch the frame of bees. I saw this for the first time at one of our past events where we had the observation hive. It was so fun to watch it happen with the folks who stopped by to visit our booth. I was amazed to learn that they know, as soon as they “hatch out” of their cells, that they are to turn right around and clean it out to prepare it for use again. My goodness – couldn’t ask for a better tenant and worker, right? Anyway, I got a real treat today! I got to see not one, not two…but THREE bees coming out of their cells at the same time. And drones at that – those big boys made me laugh and I felt like a proud parent cheering them on. Sort of reminded me of that scene from Jurassic Park (first one) where the park creator watched baby dinosaurs hatching out of their eggs. 🙂 Anyway, here are the triplet drones. They are in the center of the picture and their heads are sticking up – versus most other bees you see working a frame, their heads are often sticking down into the cell as they clean, store pollen, etc.

Drones emerging from cells

We had a wonderful weekend even though the rains meant we actually canceled our bee class for the first time ever. But the rain did not keep everyone away – we still had several visitors to the honey house and we really enjoyed meeting our new friends and future students (yes, they’re all coming back!). We also had some time to prepare some materials for our hive sponsors. We have to get things ready for sharing with the two schools sponsoring hives. We’re excited to take this journey with all the staff and students! Okay I should probably stop here or else this post could just go on too long. You all have a great week and we’ll keep you posted on all the things we are doing to gear up for what could be a great season!

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Eeeks

So the other day I came in after work and I saw Mark’s gloves…covered in little bee stingers!!! I think I might have screamed. And then I ran for the camera, of course. It was such a neat sight, I really wanted to capture it and share it with my family and friends. And tonight I thought some of you might also like to seen why we have the gear we do here in Texas. It’s obvious I have the gear because I’m allergic to the venom but the most stingers I’ve ever seen on my gloves is maybe TWO. And that’s because as soon as Mark tells me to go to the truck or watch out…I’m in the truck. Fully suited. Most of the time. 🙂 I gingerly moved these gloves under my desk lamp for a good shot and I didn’t even dare touch them with my bare hands. Even though Mark said I needn’t worry, I didn’t want to take any chances I’d somehow get venom in me – I’m just lucky that way. If there’s a way for some detached stingers to inject venom to an unsuspecting photo-happy nut, then it’d happen to me.

Now, we do have gentle bees but since we are in Texas we can’t help but get some Africanization (is that a word? The beekeeper’s not here to tell me so I’m going with it.) of the hives. Mark told me that a particular hive he has was tending to be aggressive so he was in the process of requeening it. He knew to take precautions such as suiting up properly and we are both very glad he did. I didn’t count how many stingers are in the gloves but I kept staring at it in fascination. That’s a lot of dead bees! Luckily, my honey bee only got one sting on his chin and he said that was because he brushed his veil up against his chin at one point. And THAT’S why we tell you in class not to push your veils up against your face – no matter how much better you see.

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Mark with 1st place winner

This evening we attended the Alamo Area Beekeepers Association meeting in Helotes (west of San Antonio)…long drive for us but we made it only a few minutes late. We were asked to help judge the photo portion of the competition this evening. There were several categories and in these pictures, we are holding the first place winner (Mark) for the Bees & Nature category. I am holding the second place winner in the same category. I especially like that the photographer captured a bee activity people seldom get to see – watering. 🙂

Next year we will likely pass on judging and perhaps enter the competition ourselves. There was also a honey tasting and there is a wax division but unfortunately there were no entries for the wax portion. Too bad because Mark and I were interested in seeing how other folks work their beeswax. Oh well, perhaps next year.

Thien with 2nd place winner

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