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Archive for the ‘pollen’ Category

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! πŸ™‚

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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? πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

Cenizo Blossom Honey at the Quarry Market now

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