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Archive for the ‘sale’ Category

Panorama of Big Oaks bee yard

Yesterday after work, Mark drove up as I got home from work. Luckily for me, I caught him between bee yard visits and after he unloaded a hive out by the Honey House, we headed out to Big Oaks. What a treat for me!!! I hadn’t been out there again since we unloaded the nucs and at this time of year, I always want to go out and see what’s growing and blooming. I wasn’t disappointed. The bees were looking good and there was a good variety of wildflowers starting to bloom and trees (and wild grapes) starting to bud out. Yay spring!

Mark inspects some Nucs at Big Oaks

The nucs are mostly coming along fine. There are a few that don’t look great but those will just stay and keep getting built up more. We have our first round of pick up this coming Saturday and we are super excited about that. People are really interested in the bees and keeping some on their own which all serves to meet our mission of replenishing honeybees to our region. Hopefully they will enjoy it as much as we are. In the picture above, Mark is inspecting the nuc frames to make sure there is good brood and eggs being laid by the queen. I love watching him work – he really gets into it and focuses on what he’s doing and we hardly ever speak. He’s busy tending to his bees and I’m busy getting to do what I love – observing him, the bees, and nature around me and photographing whatever I want.

Speaking of queen, we got our 83 Big Island queens in last week. It’s always an anxious waiting game when you know they are coming but not exactly the time and so nothing (well, very little) gets done away from the Bee Ranch just in case the delivery man (UPS usually) arrives with them. Luckily for us, that day, he came while I was there for lunch so I was able to watch Mark anticipate him, meet him out in the drive and then wait by the truck as he fetched them from the back. Here’s the happy beekeeper.

Finally, Big Island queens are in hand

Here’s the worried me wondering why I don’t hear the melodic humming of queens and attendants as I have with past batches. We figured it was because they got a little chilled riding around in that open UPS truck. It was on the cool side that morning. Once they warmed up sitting on the kitchen counter while we lunched, they started humming a bit. Or buzzing is what most people might call it but really, the sound is much more like a constant hum. At any rate, it’s quite soothing.

You girls okay in there?

Here’s a look at the queens once Mark got them all placed into the queen bank, which is a temporary home for them while he goes about installing them into hives he’s identified as needed to be requeened at his various bee yards.

The GBR queen bank

It looks like we will have about 20 extra queens at this point so if you need a queen, let us know (830-305-7925) and we’ll see about setting you up with what you need. At this time, they run $30 a queen and we’ve used Big Island quite a bit and have been pleased with their queens.

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Building a Nuc

Guess what? Gretchen Bee Ranch will again have a limited number of starter hives, or nucleus hives, available for sale this spring. We’ve had so much fun and great success with the nucleus sales, that we wanted to offer the hives again. This will be our third year and we’re so excited! If you think you might be interested in a hive from us, then keep reading.

We will have the nucleus hives ready for pick-up here in Seguin on Friday, March 22 and again on March 28. Please understand that factors beyond our control (such as the weather and the delivery of our queens) could force us to alter this schedule. The cost of the nucleus hives is $195 each. As a reminder, the nucleus hive is a starter beehive consisting of five frames: one frame of honey, one frame of honey & pollen and three frames of brood in various stages of development. The frames will be covered with bees, and one of these bees will be a queen from a reputable queen breeder that is already laying eggs. The frames and bees will be enclosed in a corrugated plastic box designed to transport bees. The frames will need to be transferred to your wooden hive boxes soon after you arrive home. Our experience with nucleus hives is that they build up quickly and often produce honey the first year.

Building a Nuc

You may purchase a nucleus hive or hives on the GBR website or drop us a comment or email if you have questions.

On the day that the nucleus hives will be available for pick-up, we will also offer an optional class titled “How to Build Up Your Bees in the Spring.” This will be a two to three hour, hands-on class that will cover such topics as feeding your hive, evaluating your queen, enlarging the brood nest, swarm prevention, adding honey supers and mite control. There will be plenty of time for questions as well. The cost of the class is $59 per person. To register for the class, please email us and we’ll place you on the class roster. Again, this class is optional.

Our wonderful Honey House is still under construction so we may not have beekeeping equipment available for sale this spring. We recommend Mann-Lake as a reputable supplier with free shipping on most orders over $100. You can check the Mann-Lake site and see what you think. Even if you aren’t going to keep bees, it’s still fun to look at all the cool stuff.

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HH construction December 16, 2013

Yesterday I finally got out to the HH to see how things were progressing inside. It’s so exciting! It’s feeling real when we walk in and we can already envision next season when we can drive the truck through during extraction time. And gift packaging where there’s an actual shipping table and products within easy reach. We’re making things work this year because we know it’s a transition year but we cannot wait to have things in place in the HH. The space closest to us in the picture will be the bottling room. Next to it will be our temporary retail space until we have enough money to put one up front and that’ll be visible from W. Kingsbury. Next to the retail space will be the full-size bathroom. And the space above all of that will be for storing honey supers. 🙂

Shipping GBR goodies out for the holidays

The holidays have been crazy but in a good way. We just realize how much more we’ll appreciate the HH after this season. We have one more big push at Pearl market this weekend and of course there are the phone and online orders to fill but come Christmas, we’re hoping we can sleep in a little and just catch our breath. Good thing we have Tang helping us out this year! He rocks and we enjoy working with him a great deal. That’s one hardworking brother we got!

Getting punchy

Smokey thought about helping me pack ornaments and honeys but in the end, he really just wanted me to hold him and cuddle. I gave him about three minutes. Sorry, Smoke! Too busy!

Smokester sort of helps out with packaging

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New beeswax ornaments - testing heat factor from Christmas lights
This is us testing the impact of Christmas light heat on the beeswax ornaments. So far, no impact. Good.

I never know where the days melt away to from Monday to Thursday night. Isn’t that interesting? Last thing I recalled, it was Sunday evening and I was relishing the relaxed hours after market and before the official work week kicked in the next morning. Anyway, here we are. Time to get tags together for Creamed Honey jars, prep supplies such as spoons and postcards, box up the bottled honey Stan got ready for us during the week…oh yea, and gear up to do a new DOUBLE TENT set up at Saturday’s Pearl Farmers Market. We are thrilled to give it a try and now we’ll have Sunday to rest a bit. We are on Quarry Market sabbatical until further notice. We have got to have a little rest now that the harvest is over and we just really want to be back with our church family for a while. We really miss them. So while we will enjoy sleeping until at least 7am one day out of the week, maybe even 7:30am (!!) and seeing our church family, we will surely miss our Quarry market family for a while. We’ve met some wonderful, wonderful people and feel so blessed.

On the beekeeping front, Mark is doing really well with his requeening project. Down to one yard left to be completely done. Yay! He’s been pushing it and is pretty much tired out by evening time each day but I’m so proud of him. Besides the bee work and candle work and beeswax testing, Honey House construction and some administrative work, Mark found a little time to check out some merchandise at our favorite home goods and gift shop here in town – Gift & Gourmet. They had a big warehouse sale today and boy did we strike it rich! Mark actually was taking some stuff to store there at the warehouse Mary graciously is letting us use and he couldn’t get in. Tough luck. lol BUT in the process, we scored a couple of awesome display shelves – one with lights even! That will show off the products very nicely we think. We also purchased several very lovely display racks and ornament trees. What a gift – we didn’t like what we’d seen last night during our research of ornament display trees and this serendipitous shopping excursion pretty much has us set for a while in terms of product display furniture. Nice. Oh yes, in the picture below, I did a collage of the three cabinets Mark sent pictures of for my input. We didn’t buy all of these but I still couldn’t get over the fact that they were so affordable and better yet, that we’d have many pieces of our favorite shop in our own shop. That’s so special to us. We love Mary and her staff and all the wonderful things they do for us as well as for the community. They are just awesome folks. The bottom left picture is the ONE shot I thought to snap of a display rack and the mini-crockpot is actually for wax melting. Smells lovely and will be going with us to market since our double tent will now have electricity! woohoo – we are moving on up, eh? I was so excited about personal shopping that I totally forgot to shoot anything of all the other super cool pieces we bought for the bee biz. haha, I am bad! By the time I got there and saw the outrageously low prices, I went into Christmas gift shopping mode for family and girlfriends. It was awesome. And fun. Things and people were everywhere. To get out from “behind the scenes” where Mary treated us to some special treasures, we actually climbed through the bottom shelf of a display cabinet. Talk about fun. And even Mark did it. He said it is a good thing he’s dropped 40 pounds recently. hehe Wish you could have seen us.

Shopping for GBR

Late afternoon brought a few customers to the Bee Ranch. This is a fairly new beekeeper who’s enjoyed his two hives so much, he is on the list for several more nucs come next spring. Love to hear that. Today he was picking up two queens so he and Mark discussed the direct introduction method for his new queen installation. Hopefully he will have as much success as we have had with that way of doing the queen intros.

Queen introduction discussion

Later I will share with your our other visitor – a florist from north of Austin. We have partnered with them and are honored and thrilled they want to share our honey and beeswax products with their customers. Can’t wait to post about that when the time is right. 🙂 For now, I bid you a goodnight. Sleep well.

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GBR Check out page

It’s back and better! When the shopping cart went down on us a couple of weeks ago, the company that ran the back end didn’t even notify clients. Really! That is crazy business. Thanks to Troy and Mark working away since that time, we now have a brand new shopping cart with lots more for you.

Here are a couple of things I wanted to point out real quick since I need to go to bed for an early drive to SA markets.

You like the honey? You want to tell us how you cooked with it in a wonderful recipe? We now have a review feature – tell us what you liked and didn’t like (hopefully you’ll call us on this one so we can work it out together)!

GBR Shop Cart Reviews

Need to do a quick search since you don’t have time to browse? Check out the new search capability as well as the featured products for that time period.

GBR Shop Cart Search

Take a look around and tell us what you think. We’ve been working and testing but nothing beats real user testing. We also added several free pickup locations in the “shipping” section. Thanks for your patience and support as we worked through another little hurdle in running a business and having an online store. When a server crashes, sometimes you just have to sit and eat honey until the next solution is ready. 🙂 We’re ready now.

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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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No off loading of honey is nice!

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

Great Danes abound at the markets

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

Kiss My Grits

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

Stan & Mark at market

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

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

New labels

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

The newly invented Saddle Bag gift set

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