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Archive for the ‘pollen’ Category

Howdy! It’s been busy as we continue to decrease our overall hive count (too many for Mark to care for solo). I wanted to share with you all Mark’s latest newsletter to his students and our customers. You can also find an updated Beekeeper Workshop list for the remainder of 2017 on our website. Hope you and your bees are all well!

Mark’s Update:

We visited our large bee yard in Medina County this morning, and while it is dry there (no rainfall from Harvey) we still saw a good pollen flow and even a small nectar flow. I am always amazed at how resourceful the bees are! Here in Guadalupe County (about 10 inches of rain from Harvey) we see a good honey flow in some locations and a heavy pollen flow everywhere. We often see a dearth of both of those this time of year, so this abundance of pollen and nectar pleases us as much as it does the bees. We are mostly seeing strong, healthy hives as a result of this boost in nourishment. When I do come across a weak or dead colony I attribute it to either a failing queen or a heavy mite load. We are working hard now to replace all of our queens and to make sure that every colony has an acceptably low mite count. For mite treatments we used Apivar in some locations, and in other locations we are trying multiple rounds of oxalic acid vaporization. We expect good results from both methods.

I am teaching our September Intro to Beekeeping class for paid registrants this Saturday, therefore we will not have our usual free beekeeping workshop. Nevertheless, please feel welcome to drop by if you need a queen or any supplies, or just want to visit. We always enjoy hanging out with beekeepers! Please visit our website if youโ€™d like to see a full list of our upcoming workshops.

I wanted to share a photo of something that you may not have seen before: worker bees killing their queen. The bees form a tight ball around the doomed queen and proceed to sting and overheat her until she is dead. What a way to go! This was a young queen that perhaps entered the wrong hive after a mating flight, or perhaps had some defect that the colony found unacceptable. I noticed that many of the workers in the ball continuously exposed their stingers. When I picked up the ball with my bare hand I was immediately stung.

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October-November SA Drop dates

Hello folks. Just wanted to drop a quick line to say hi. We are heading into San Antonio this Thursday morning if you need us to bring in an order of anything. Holler at us on the company line (no texting) 830-305-7925. Also, check out what Mark and Stan bottled this year…it’s been a while for the larger sizes of local honey. This is nice to see.

2016 Guadalupe County Wildflower Honey

I love that we have jars from cute little 2-ounces to the 5-pounder. Cool and fun for us.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent email Mark sent out to his beekeeping group:

“We are in the midst of a Fall season that has been beneficial to our bees here in Guadalupe County. We see a moderate honey flow and a strong pollen flow continuing. I am spot feeding here and there, mainly the new splits to boost brood production. We are nearing the end of our re-queening project and we are very pleased with the Kona (Hawaii) and Wilbanks (Georgia) queens that we used. We are seeing strong brood rearing in all of the colonies with new queens. This will greatly help us in early spring when we start making divides and nucs. Two weeks ago we were inspected by the State Apiary Inspection Service. They tested for nosema spores and for mites. The resulting numbers looked good, although the mite numbers were slightly higher than I had predicted given that we had treated with Apivar over the previous six weeks. It underscored for me the need to perform a follow-up mite treatment this fall with Apiguard.”

Apiary inspections with the State went very well.

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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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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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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Pollen gathering at Big Oaks

Happy Easter, everyone! Today feels like it’s already a full day and it’s only 7pm. haha, love that. We kicked off our wonderful day with a great breakfast before booking it out to collect pollen we planned to collect yesterday but you know what? We were so tired that after a friend stopped by for a visit and stayed longer than anticipated (but what a nice visit that was!), we just didn’t even REMEMBER we were supposed to go to Big Oaks. That’s tired. And that is usually what happens to us by Saturday afternoons after market and class, as we had both events yesterday. I think the week catches up to us and we just sort of get drained. It felt good to rest and get a little extra sleep, that’s for sure.

So…back to this morning. The top shot is Mark pulling pollen traps (Sundance brand). We currently have a pollen trap on seven hives and today alone, we got about 13 pounds of some of the cleanest pollen we’ve ever collected. Below is a trap he just pulled out and you can see there are hardly any pieces of debris in there. We talked about how great that is since it will mean minimal cleaning is required if we decide to bottle some to sell. The pollen we collected in fall had more pieces of twigs, leaves, grass and so on and that means more cleaning time. Below is a closer look at the trap (or tray). So pretty and tastes so nice and mild! Sweet as well.

Pollen gathering at Big Oaks

Below is what I posted on Facebook earlier this morning. That is the fullest we have ever had one of our traps and we just were simply amazed! The girls are really pulling in a lot and if you are new to our blog and haven’t read previous posts about pollen collecting, then I’ll just reassure you that collecting it like this does not diminish a hive’s health. The traps only brush off some of the pollen being carried in, not all of it. So don’t worry that the bees are left with little or no protein. They are doing just fine.

Pollen trap full of pollen

Collecting pollen this time of year is new for us. We wanted to give spring collecting a try after talking with a fellow beekeeping friend who collects at this time and has seen zero impact on bee health as well as honey production. We trust them and respect their experience and knowledge so we’re giving it a go. We’ll keep you posted on things. Here’s putting our money where our mouth is – 17 new pollen traps came in last week! They are painted and ready for installation this week. Like, tomorrow according to Mark.

Pollen traps

By the way, here is what we had for breakfast, which we don’t have often so on Sundays when we do eat breakfast, I like to make it special and just the way my beekeeper like it – yummy! The eggs are from fellow Seguinite, Wholesome Harvest Farm, while the strawberries are from Wheeler Farm. We are eating so much better now that we shop mostly at the Pearl market while we are there every Saturday. The bacon and other meats I need that I can’t get at market, I get from the meat market just down the road from us (Granzin’s).

Breakfast feast on Easter

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The sunlight made us all happy

That’s my indoor garden I’m maintaining quite well (in my opinion). The palm looking plant was given to us by our church family when my mom passed away this past April. I just really want to keep it alive as long as possible because of that and because when I left for college, Mom gave me a palm to take with me and I had it for a very long time. Anyway, all the other things are accidental rootings from friends at market actually. I always stick herbs in water when I get them home so I can keep them as fresh as possible until I use them in cooking. I’m always happy when I see roots sprout. So then I decide to plant them. Since they are indoors I suppose I may have to consult the beekeeper about q-tip pollination since I don’t have bees inside. They smell divine, especially the basil and mint. By the way, with the recent rains we’ve gotten, my outdoor herb garden is quite robust and smells divine, filled with basil, thyme, oregano, chives and

So I was sitting here about to blog and then I checked Flickr and it was offline! I link our pictures here most of the time to my Flickr account because it just works easier that way. Plus, it drives people to more pictures that I snap of bee stuff, because who wants a blog with a gazillion, million pictures that I snap all over the place every day? ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s what I use Flickr for. And Instagram. And Tumblr. And a lot of other apps you don’t need to hear about. Since I last checked, Flickr has come back online and since you came here to read about beekeeping, I will now post about bees and pollen since I have grown to appreciate it so much.

Pollen comparison

I love opening my refrigerator and seeing the jars of pollen in there. I especially am drawn to the difference in color in the jars. The one on the right is mine and Mark cleaned it for me months ago so I could take a little pollen each day for my allergies. I’m basically building up an immunity to the allergens around me. When I was growing up in North Carolina, I never had allergies really. But now I’m older and here in Texas, I’ve developed many allergies. The honey has definitely helped me and I really appreciate that Mark keeps bees if only selfishly for my own medicinal purposes. I used to get all sorts of allergy related infections each year and it seemed that shots and antibiotics became less effective each year, with each dosage. I have now been on regular local consumption for six or seven years and all I can say is that I am so much better! I can actually enjoy being outdoors more, even though I sometimes still get zonked pretty good with whatever’s in the air. Anyway, I thought I’d give the pollen a try and this year’s pollen is a lot nicer-tasting than in years past. If you’ve never had pollen before, it takes a little getting use to as it is earthy. Sweet but definitely an earthy after-taste; not bad and not bitter and not like dirt. Just earthy. I don’t know how else to describe it. Anyway, this year’s pollen is actually quite fabulous. Sweet and enjoyable. To me, this is so much better than a shot and some pills. Yay, bees! Another wonderful thing they do.

If you have follow us on the blog or other social media, then you may recall that we typically collect pollen and then keep it in the freezer so that we have some protein for the bees during winter months when they might need a little boost. Mark makes a pollen patty – mixing pollen with sugar syrup. It makes a mixture that looks and smells pretty good. And looks like sweet potatoes. Or pumpkin. As in pies. ๐Ÿ™‚ The best way to describe the importance of pollen to the bees is when we think of how important protein is to humans. Pollen is the bees’ protein. Mark says it’s their burger and I love that.

Smearing pollen patty on wax paper

This is my favorite shot of a good ole hardworking honeybee coming in with her pollen loads but she stopped and kept checking out the dropped pollen at the entrance. I guess she was thinking it was a shame all that good pollen is being wasted there. The different colors simply mean that the pollens were collected from different flowers out in the fields.

What a hardworking girl she was this afternoon. #beekeeping #texasbeekeeping #pollen

Remember that honeybees will forage up to three miles from their hives. They work very hard for all the nectar and pollen they collect and bring home. It’s quite amazing to watch them flying about, carrying their pollen or sitting at their entrance and watching them land and carry in the colorful loads they foraged. Very cool. I videoed a short look at one of the entrances for you:

The pollen traps do not harm the bees although when they find a way in that they’re not suppose to find, then things might happen. Like this. Mark opened this trap and we saw a bunch of dead bees. He’s not sure what happened, perhaps they got in that tray and then could not get out the same way in which they came. We just don’t know yet but he’s going to work on that trap for sure.

Mishap with pollen trap

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Sunflowers from Naegelin Farms

First off, let me just say that although it turned out to be the hottest days yet this spring (upper 90s and we felt it on the asphalt at markets), we really had a great time being back at both the Pearl and the Quarry markets. We sure miss our friends – both vendors and customers – when we are not at market! And how nice to know they missed us as well. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the love, everyone. I am also thrilled to once again restock our produce, meats and eggs and I even grabbed several beautiful sunflowers from our next door neighbor vendor, Naegelin Farms, for my mom’s prayer table. They are at the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market. These things make me so happy!

You should see all the wonderful things you can buy at market – check out my Flickr set for examples. I told Mark starting in June, I will keep track of how much we spend each weekend at the markets. I want to see some numbers since I have been feeling as if my initial assessment may be inaccurate – that you spend more eating better when you buy at farmers market than if you buy at the usual grocery stores. I really think we’ve been spending less because what we do buy last a LOT longer than what we used to buy at stores. But I want collect real data on that. We both LOVE buying our vegetables, meats, eggs, plants/flowers and eats at market. It’s better quality products; it’s made by people we’ve met and have gotten to know; it’s not been “chemicalized” and is as fresh and real as you can get…it’s an amazingly reassuring feeling to know where things come from and to know the hands that brought it all to market. Anyway, I’ll let you know what I discover. All that to say this, if you haven’t tried the farmers markets yet, you should. Even if you aren’t there for us, you should check out the other products. I think you’ll like it. Here are just some of the wonderful things I look forward to preparing this week. Not included here are: fresh bread, tilapia, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, chicken, and eggs.

Some of the goodies from Pearl market today

And these beauties from Oak Hills Farm out of Poteet and at the Pearl Farmers Market:

Berries from Oak Hills Farm

AND…we introduced our newest honey at the Quarry market today to a very, very warm reception! I don’t have the numbers in front of me but informally, we both felt the Cenizo out-sold the Wildflower AND the Huajilla today. It’s really delightful – a blend of both flavors in my opinion. Not as flowery as the Wildflower Honey but more body than the Huajilla Honey. You’re going to have to taste it yourself soon and let us know what you think. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cenizo Blossom Honey at the Quarry Market now

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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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mystery flower at Comanche Creek March 29

Does anyone know what this might be? Our friend suggested Crabapple but if it is, then it is of a very small variety compared to the typical bloom. All we know is that it is abundant out at Comanche Creek and our bees seem to LOVE it. They were all over it when I went with Mark last Friday – which, by the way, was one of my best days off ever! Even though it now seems long ago, it still makes me happy to think I got to kick off a 3-day weekend hanging out with my most awesome beekeeping husband! It was a beautiful day here – cool enough to sit out back with a customer for a bit while we waited for Mark to bring back a few nucs for pick-up. I packed a lunch and we headed to Comanche Creek after that. I always enjoy riding around with Mark because you never know what we’ll see or who we get to meet! There’s always an adventure out there if you just are open to it. I love being with him.

Anyway, enough of the mushy stuff, I’m sure you’re thinking. Okay so today Mark went out to CC again to feed the bees. He wants them really nice and strong as can be before the Huajilla blooms in earnest. And they send pictures home of a big ole rattlesnake. Another one in our life is not my idea of nice. One in the back yard is still worrisome (along with a den we still need to deal with eventually) but the one they saw was as big as a man’s forearm. Too big for me. They heard him when they were opening the third gate to get to the bee yards on the ranch. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Very worrisome that we are going to continue to run into more of them. And to think all these years we’ve gone without seeing any. And now two within two weeks. Eeeks. Snake boots and a gun. Mandatory gear for a while I think. Mark told me when we recapped our day that there might be a market for these rattlers if he and Stan catch them. WHAT?? I hope he’s kidding.

Guess what – it’s finally coming down hard here at the Bee Ranch! How exciting! I won’t have to water yet, which is always nice but even nicer is that it will be a great boost for our bees. Yay rain! You wouldn’t believe how often we all check the forecasts and radars. lol

Let’s see what else is going on – bee checks and feedings, that’s what. We moved several more hives out to CC so it’s proving to be one of our larger yards. Still amazing to us to be on a ranch that big and have two separate yards in which to place the bees. Still more amazing is that every time we go out there, we get to see amazing beauty. We feel so incredibly blessed when we experience that!

I have so many things I want to show you from out there. Here’s CC #2 yard, named #2 only because we scouted the location second during our very first visit.

Mark at Comanche Creek March 29 3

They were flying like crazy out there. The hum of the bees was amazing. I’m glad I was fully suited as a couple of girls got irritable since it turned cloudy and a bit breezy. And if you missed it on Facebook, here’s a video I captured while at CC #1. Be sure to watch the HD version so it’s a better picture. I shoot it in HD but the default setting for YouTube viewing is less than that so you have to manually choose it. If there’s a way to change that default, you can tell me. ๐Ÿ™‚

While at CC #1, I also saw beautiful Bluebonnets that I just had to shoot.

Bluebonnets at Comanche Creek March 29 2

I saw a few bees in there and I captured a couple of shots though none good enough to share in my opinion. Their buzzing, however, did lead me to find them not on the flowers, but on the ground taking in water at the end of the tank. Funny little girls. They need lots of water so we are happy the tanks levels are still up at this time. The tank is just down the hill from the yard location so it’s perfect for the bees.

Here’s another shot I really liked – check out her pollen basket! So cool. At this point, dressed in my full suit on top of my jeans, boots and so on, I was level with the entrance and could enjoy watching them coming and going for quite some time. It was nice to feel secure in my suit and not be a bother to them. They are just so fascinating to watch. Sometimes they tumble a bit when they land, which is hilarious. I also saw at another hive that there were several bee fights going on as they rob from each other sometimes when we feed them. Silly girls, they sure cracked me up jumping on each other and rolling right off the landing of then entrance.

Bees at entrance at Comanche Creek March 29 4

Okay, one more. I told Mark I noticed the gigantic red ants were nearby and I tracked their huge home up at the top of the hill. It was huge. And they do bite and it does sting and I do swell a bit. FYI – don’t think they are harmless. Anyway, he later called to me and showed me a hilarious sight – here’s why we don’t mind the ants in bee yards.

ants with hive beetle and bee

That little ant just chugged along with his hive beetle larvae. He had a long way to go up that hill but I watched him and snapped his progress. It was so interesting! He moved faster than you’d think. And then I saw this other ant headed the same way; really, you cannot help but see them because they are HUGE. Anyway, the second ant had half a bee (our bee!) and was headed home. For some reason, this just really fascinated me. It was like a race and the hive beetle ant was beating the bee ant by a long shot. It was fun to watch them and this was all just a fraction of the fun I had that day at Comanche Creek with Mark. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am a lucky, happy girl.

If you would like to see more pictures of our Comanche Creek bee yards, you can swing over to our Flickr photo set and enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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