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Archive for the ‘special events’ Category

Free Workshops at the Bee Ranch

Howdy, friends. In case you haven’t seen it elsewhere – here is a listing of free workshops we are hosting at the Bee Ranch every Saturday morning through January 2016! We make a pot of hot coffee and I’ll put on hot cider for non-coffee drinkers and y’all just talk about things with Mark while I tend the shop. Pretty fun and Mark even gave away a free smoker, a $40 value, as part of a raffle for attendees. Nice and lots of fun. We hope to see you a a workshop in the near future.

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Bees at entrance

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

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

Beekeeping supplies

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

Happy to be home and working on new products!

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

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

Fall 2015 GBR product rollout

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

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

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

GBR Product Shoot 2014

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

Pearl Vendor Get Together

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

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

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Pecan tree

And we are serious about caring for the twenty-four trees we have on our Bee Ranch. We have officially committed to caring for and growing our pecan tree – we’ve hired a caretaker for the orchard! You’ll be hearing more in future about the awesome Mr. Savior. He has already helped us so much with last year’s pecan harvest and he’s ready to do more. Yesterday he started meticulously fertilizing the orchard and he will continue to provide care and feeding so that we can have future crops to take to market in support of our growing bee business. We are so thankful for Mr. S!! He and his family are dear friends from church and we are so excited to continue working with them on different projects!

Bee board holding pecans

Mr. S is currently researching and developing a system for watering the orchard. He had also helped us design our mobile feeding system and that made the work more efficient for Mark. In all that we do, we are truly blessed to continually receive help from our friends and family. We couldn’t possibly have all the time and energy to do all we want to do if we didn’t have the help of all of you, whether it’s a feeding system, working events or sending encouragement via our electronic world (and in person at market and events). We so appreciate you all!! Thank you so much. Have a wonderful day and hope to see you at the Pearl Farmers Market tomorrow (9-1p). It is the market’s 5th birthday and there are special treats and giveaways so it’s totally the day to give it a try if you haven’t been there yet. And if you have, we look forward to seeing you again!

The beekeeper mixing some sugar and water feed for the bees

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Granbady and the beekeeper at Cibolo Creek bee yard

[And no, I do not mean the elections you THINK I might mean. Read on to learn about the Pearl market election.]

As you can tell, I sort of fell behind on the blog. You can’t blame me, though, when there is such a sweet little grandbaby to watch over and have fun with out and about. Once in a while we get to hang out with the baby and we love it! Yesterday after church, we went to check on the bees out a Cibolo Creek to see if the recent rains did anything for them. Happy to report that things not only perked up in terms of greenness and flower blooms, but the bees perked up also and have resumed honey production. Excellent news! Before our Florida trip last week, it looked as if Mark might be able to start a slow harvest this week or next. While we would be happy with any amount of honey produced, of course, any signs of resumed honey production is something to cheer about – so yay!

In the picture above, Rhys and I had been walking around the area to enjoy the scenery a bit. He really loves the outdoors but he adores his granddaddy even more so we had to go check on the beekeeper a few times. Happy to see the baby is right at home amongst the hives and rather than saying “ewwww” (which is really super cute), I am teaching him to say “bee” instead. He currently refers to all small critters as “ewwww.” haha what a nut and cutie he is. Anyway, we had a lot of fun and I am now searching for mini-bee hat/veil and beesuit for our little man. Why? Because whatever Grandaddy has on, Baby Rhys will want to have on as well. We just adore him.

May 2014 at Cibolo Creek with Rhys

Back to the weather at hand, just before the 1/2 inch of rain we got at the house, this is what the ground looked like. Many, many ground cracks just like this one could be seen all around the property. It made my heart sad a little for the land. I know we are in Texas and that drought is part of life here but it doesn’t mean we don’t want and pray for some rain. As a matter of fact, tomorrow is suppose to only see 66F degrees as the high! Yay – what a great gift for me. Mid-May and a freak 60-degree day? I’ll take that any day. Plus there’s a forecasted 90% chance of rain. Wow. That’d be a great gift as well.

Ground cracks at the Bee Ranch

Before I go, I just wanted to share some big news for us. Saturday we had our annual members meeting for the vendors of the Pearl Farmers Market. Long story short, Mark was honored to be elected the new Board President and so we’re going to need some more good thoughts, vibes and prayers, friends! Really, we are so excited and with Mark, they’ll get two Gretchens for one we say. I’ll be helping however I can and of course, I expect now that I have easy access to a Board member, getting information out to membership will be kicked up another notch or two. Yay! We need to build on the wonderful success this great market has become. Our own little company has grown so much after we joined Pearl FM that we want to help in any way we can to make sure we continue to grow. Can’t wait to see what the next three years will bring (duration of office for Mark).

Annual members meeting at Pearl Farmers Market

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2014 Spring Open House

Guess what? It’s on! Spring is coming – can’t you see it in the wildflowers that are popping up more and more around us? How about these great little rain storms we’ve been getting? It’s great for the flowers, trees, fields and bees. We are excited about the outlook for the honey season. We’re also very excited about sharing our new Honey House with you all so we decided we didn’t want to wait until the Christmas holidays rolled around again. That is waaaaaaay too far away. So please swing by for our Spring Open House and we’ll be happy to show you around the new building and property. While we won’t every single thing in place, we have it functioning and looking and feeling really awesome. We just want to share some of that goodness. As always, honey tastings are going to be available as well as whatever wonderful beeswax products we’ve poured…including the exquisite Bunny ornament that Mark started pouring recently. I love it! Perfect for an Easter basket or a sweet little hostess gift. We hope to see you soon!

Bunny ornament 2014

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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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First Bluebonnets of the 2014 in Seguin

These are the things I want to tell you about in this post. I have to make this list of three or else I will be all over the place since I have a million thoughts that want to be written.
1. Spring
2. The Honey House
3. Spring Open House

This could apply to many, many things right about now. Sometimes I have so many things I want to tell you guys that I don’t even know where to begin. Which reminds me that lately, Mark and I have so much going on that we sometimes feel on the edge of being overwhelmed and then we tell ourselves (and each other), okay slow down. Take a deep breath. Don’t freak. Make a list of the top three things you MUST do and go from there. Remember you cannot do ALL the things you have on your list/in your head to do.

Crazy eyes

Okay, it may just be me having those last thoughts. haha Mark is much calmer and cooler than I am like 99.9% of the time. I’m more of the Daffy Duck to his Bugs Bunny. That image came to my head as I was typing this.

Okay so did you see the Bluebonnets?!?! I spotted them not too far from the Bee Ranch but I had not been able to stop for a photo because the batch was at a pretty busy and somewhat dangerous intersection on Highway 725 and Interstate 10. BUT yesterday, I showed Mark when we were coming back from errands and he found a good safe spot for me. He’s so great to me. Anyway, it’s really exciting to see signs of spring – the Mesquite is even budding out now and many people believe that once the Mesquite does that, well, there are no more freezes coming our way. We will see and hope for that because the up and down weather patterns have killed back early bloomers quite a bit and people are sad about those losses. I was remembering last year when we brought back the nucs that all the Huisache was in full bloom and looking gorgeous (see picture of that loveliness on Flickr). This year? They still look dormant because what did start budding out pretty much froze off during one of the weird temperature dips. Oh well. They were so beautiful and abundant last year but still the bees didn’t touch it.

The Honey House on a drizzly night

And now a little update on the Honey House. It looked particularly special Saturday night when I went out there to get Mark for dinner. You see, it had been drizzling and/or raining pretty much all day! Talk about wonderful. We loved hearing it on the roofs of the house and the HH because the metal roofing sounds lovely. We just can’t believe it still – all that space is actually ours and it’s actually done and inspected and passed. And all we have to do is figure out work-flow and organization and then get our stuffs in there. We are SUPER excited about it and feel very blessed of course but it is causing some stress from time to time for the beekeeper. Poor man. So much he wants to do…tend to the bees, make candles, move into the HH, taxes (yay, almost ready to check this off the list), and then there’s life stuff. You know, we do try to have a little down time (a few hours here and there) once in a while. Here’s a peek inside (and no we do not have temperature control in there):

Visit to the Honey House one evening

Finally, I just want to mention we decided to have a Spring Open House since we had so much fun at the Holiday OH! Plus we hope to have things set up in the Honey House so we can tour y’all around. So, save the date and come visit the Bee Ranch! That’s a Sunday and the Open House will be the usual 2 to 6 p.m. More on that later this week (once I finish the flyer). Okay got to run, ciao and have a great day!

Update: Sorry, I got excited and forgot to say the Open House is APRIL 6. hehe

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2013 GBR Holiday Open House

My intentions of posting before the big weekend hit didn’t quite pan out so here we are, post-huge-double-event-weekend and some pictures loaded so I can share with you what and how we’ve been doing. We’re doing great, by the way. Quick run-down of things:

  • Our 4th annual Holiday Open House went smashingly. It was crazy. It was hectic. It was fun. And we are all excited about next year’s event and have made plans to bring in as many Hoang family members as can make it. Talk about fun working together! We couldn’t have survived the weekend as well as we have without the help of our family and friends. Thanks, everyone!
  • The Honey House is moving right along and we are thrilled! The crews worked really hard to help us get in the HH by the time Open House came along and they did it! Walls and roof up and on, then the windows and doors crews got to work and poof, we got some useable space. We made due with a very, very long extension cord and were able to have hot cider and the Christmas tree lit but that was it. 🙂 We were thrilled to have such an open space even with it unfinished. Today we had temporary power hooked up so that the insulation crew could do their thing and they did. Can’t wait to look inside again tomorrow. Mark and Tang picked out paint today while I was at the mill working and the HH gets a coat of paint inside, top to bottom.

Honey House Construction Update

  • Speaking of Tang, that’s my older brother and he is visiting with us for about two months while our dad is traveling. Tang got to stay with us a week last Christmas and we all had a great time so we were thrilled when we found out he’d be here even longer with us. He is a sweet soul and an eager learner and helper. He LOVES Mark and Stan and being around them and he loves to help them do “man work,” as he calls it. I love him and I love that my beekeeper is teaching him how to make candles. Tonight at dinner he told us he enjoyed making the candles and when asked which was his favorite, he responded that the 1-pound block is his fav. He’s not sure why; he just likes it. Made us laugh. I’m sure there will be many beeventures for Tang between now and February so we’ll be sure to share! By the way, his name is not  pronounced like the orange powder drink, but rather sounds like “tong.”

Tang levels out the vintage cookie mold for beeswax ornaments

 

  • We had a record sales day at the Pearl this past weekend and it happened to be the coldest day ever! The vendor turnout was lower than usual and we were in a temporary location due to the Tamales Festival running on the same day and there weren’t nearly as many shoppers as usual but the ones who came out to support the market were amazing! We really weren’t sure what to expect since we were pretty much frozen within an hour of getting there and setting up so imagine our utter surprise when Mark gave us the final numbers. And “us” includes Mark, me, Tang and another brother name Hung and our sis Lan. What a great crew we had and somehow we managed to laugh through some of it but man were we glad to get done and get home! Thank God for great family!

Okay, that’s about it for now. I need to do other stuff before bed. I hope you all have had a great month so far. This is my favorite time of the year!!!! If you want, here are links to two photo sets on our Flickr page. Click on the link to check out more of what we’re doing by viewing my visual memory book. 🙂 Goodnight.

Mac desktop all clean

Besides church in the morning, Sundays are now a little extra time to catch up on tasks around the house (both personal and for GBR) as well as some much needed time to simply rest. We’re not quite the spring chickens we used to be and while we aren’t ready for retirement, we just needed at least one day at home. That doesn’t mean we sit around watching football like we used to while we read the paper. There are plenty of things to do to keep the business and the home running – we just get to go at a more leisurely pace and when we’re not feeling so great (me), we get to actually go back to bed for a while. I was thankful for the extra rest yesterday, that’s for sure. And I also FINALLY had and made time to move my trillion-billion pictures off my computer and onto external memory. Phew. Been dreading that but now it’s done and my desktop and Mac are super clean and happy. Yay for time!

Anyway, in weather news – we got rain again! It started Saturday, overnight, and it’s been raining on and off through today. At lunchtime, I checked the radar and saw a line running north/south and moving across the area westward so I booked on home and got here in time to prep lunch and then we watched a strong rain shower come down on the Bee Ranch. The sound of it on the metal roof is quite lovely. 🙂 I think the rain gauge indicates about 4.5 inches of rain so far. This nice, lingering, soaking type of rain is great for the parched ground and it’ll certainly help with next year’s flowering season, which will certainly help with honey production we anticipate. Already, this fall has been better than last year’s fall in terms of moisture. The weather people predict a bit more rain this week – pretty exciting news around here. When we went out to collect pollen at Cibolo Creek yard, we saw the Bottle Brush fading but there was a bit of Bee Brush in bloom along with a variety of yellow wildflowers I haven’t looked up in our books yet. Pollen collection has gone well and the girls are quite productive. Mark has put away a decent amount of pollen for them and even made up several jars for people wanting pollen for allergy relief. I am thankful for it as well as my allergies have been quite manageable and only occasionally am I impacted by them. I am, however, very pleased that I can’t recall the last time I had an infection due to allergens. Yay! I used to get them several times a year once allergies entered my Texas life. Miserable, especially right about now with cedar, which I noticed just started appearing in the pollen reports I get emailed to me daily. Nerd, right? I like to know what’s in the air so I know what might be triggering any reactions. Anyway, I have put in my own order for some new pollen to ward off whatever this fall has in store for us. Yay for connections with the awesome beekeeper!

Check out these lovely mushrooms I spotted out at Big Oaks bee yard – really cool new things pop up when there’s actually rain!

Mushrooms at Big Oaks Bee Yard

Ohhh! Sundays are also for visiting and being with family and friends. So, in light of that, we want to make it official – we’ve set the date for our 4th Annual Holiday Open House at the Bee Ranch! We hope you can join us here at our Bee Ranch on Sunday, December 8. Like last year, it will run from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and there will be light refreshments, bees (as long as conditions permit us to bring them here and they won’t be bothered by it), me and Mark giving visitors our time and attention, candle shop tours and hopefully demos (depending on what’s cooling in the molds), honey tastings and shopping, of course! We always have a lot of fun so we hope to see a lot of you here. 🙂 I’ll post more information as the date drawers nearer.

In other news…

  • We will not be at Pearl Farmers Market this Saturday, October 19.  [We are actually having a mini-vacation! On an actual beach!]
  • Progress on the Honey House is actually occurring! Slowly but surely, that HH will get built. And we will appreciate every square foot of it. I am really hoping that there will be a slab, four walls and a roof at least. That’s all I need to have the Holiday Open House in there which would be so awesome! I’m praying we have at least that much done but if not, we’ll go with Plan B: The Party Garage. 🙂
  • The Spurs season is gearing up! You know we are crazy about our Spurs and especially about Tim Duncan (okay, I might be a little crazier about him than the beekeeper since TD’s an ACC guy). GO SPURS GO!
  • Smokey and Mark teamed up and got a rattlesnake in the backyard, in case you don’t follow our other social media outlets. About 3 feet long and hopefully that was the mate to the earlier one we spotted and shot at months ago. eeks.
  • The scorpions are out and about and I do not mean the band. We had two in the house this past week. Double eeks.

Okay, I’ll call that a wrap for the night. 🙂 Just wanted to catch you up a bit on us. Y’all have a super great week! Don’t forget to enjoy life and have a little fun each day!

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