Archive for the ‘store’ Category

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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A gift in the bee box

And it’s about to get busier for a while. We are all set for tomorrow’s Pearl Farmers Market. If you are coming to see us, don’t forget we have relocated to the lot directly in front of the CIA Bakery (you gotta love that name – it’s really the Culinary Institute of America) and it’s only for tomorrow. After that, we’ll all move back to the usual spot on the other side of the stable. After market, we’ll load up for Yulefest here in Seguin at the Coliseum on Sunday – 10a to 4p. Great place to find some nice gifts for the family and friends. I want to get some of that awesome soup in a jar from Jett’s Jelly. Yum. Speaking of jelly, the box above was on loan and then returned to us by a friend. She also left us gifts inside! The eggs are from her hens and she made the most delicious blackberry jam I have ever tasted. I’m not even really a jam/jelly kinda gal but this was excellent. I hope she sells it one day so we can buy it all up. Danielle was a student in one of our classes and now has hives of her own. She also raises the yummiest chickens – I can testify to that. I am still talking about the chicken now. lol – just go check her site out if you want some great eats. Click here for Hanson Family Farm.

Mark’s been busy, busy. All week he’s been filtering wax and trying to catch up on beeswax orders and also stock up for markets. He sent this great shot the other day and I really loved it. Obviously he’s taller than I am and has a perspective y’all don’t get to see often in our photos since I see the world differently from my level. Ever thought about that? Tall and petite people shoot pictures differently. Anyway, here’s the awesome shot of his candle table. 🙂

The beekeeper's candle table this morning

Some of Mark’s other work this week included checking on and feeding some of the hives that needed it. Things are looking pretty good as he preps the hives for winter. He is also moving the Honey House over here bit by bit now that we have that new shed set up with electricity. He’s got to build a new candle table, however, and then we’ve got to move all those heavy buckets of honey! Looks like the garage will be our little honey shop until we can get the new HH built here at the new property. Very exciting! Somewhere along here we need to sit and plan out the space. I love doing that sort of thing!

Next topic: the “interesting” photos Mark sends me from the fields as he drives the country roads. I never know what he’ll send and sometimes he doesn’t warn me. Remember that shot of the wild hog’s head hanging from the tree down in the Runge bee yard? With the beer can in its mouth. Weird. I won’t post the two he sent this week but one was a headless hog (no one can figure out who would do that and why) and the other one was of a coyote sort of eaten up. Interesting. Made me laugh out loud literally. At work. Luckily I was alone. I think I may have screamed a little scream of shock. Maybe. lol

Oooooooh! I almost forgot! Tomorrow we are also delivering our first batch of Guadalupe County Wildflower AND Frio County Huajilla to Melissa Guerra! We are so excited to have a such an awesome new retail outlet in the downtown area. And besides that, we really like the look and feel of the shop, the friendliness of the staff and what Melissa does with the store. Looking forward to this new partnership. I’ll try to get a shot for y’all tomorrow post-market.

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Farm 2012 hives 2

Now that Mark is back full time, there’s a lot of catch up work going on. Here’s an update on some of his activities since he got back to GBR.

Coyote Bee Yard: We lost one hive there and pulled a couple of honey supers still left there. No coyotes spotted. And no goats either (as we normally see and/or hear).

The Farm Bee Yard: The picture above is from the Farm yard. I haven’t been out there in a while with Mark so he snapped this for me. He pulled about ten honey supers off the hives there and looking forward to extracting them. It’s been amazing what this year has yielded in our honey production and we are very happy and thankful for it all.

Restocking: Mark has restocked at Ta’s in Marion as well Lily’s Cookies in SA. Also got that order to JW Marriott for the trip up to New York City (You must say this in that Texas cowboy twang like on the salsa commercial – I wonder if I drive Mark crazy sometimes saying that. I can’t help it. Our honey is going to NYC and it’s exciting and fun! And for some reason that makes me use a twang.) Back to business – there should also be a good supply at Gift & Gourmet here on the town square of Seguin.

Administrative Work: There’s a LOT of catch up work here and I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, Mark will be busy, busy, busy between the bees, balancing the books, weekend markets and moving. Yep. We’re trying to move and the big move is coming up this weekend. Wish us luck. [BTW, if you want my undying gratitude and if you have time to help on Sunday, let me know! There’s pizza in it for you. :)]

Hopguard: It’s time to treat the bees for mites so Mark begins the rounds tomorrow. Elm Creek is first and then he’ll just continue on with the rest of the bee yards. No more powdered sugar treatments at this time.

A new honey: Check out our new Texas Clover harvested from the Runge Bee Yard down south of us about two hours. Yummm. Very light in flavor and people responded well to it last weekend at Market. We’ll have to try and get more sizes bottled before Saturday. Now that Mark is back home, we hope traffic will pick back up here at the Honey House. Can’t wait to get our new Honey House built and a big, welcoming GBR sign put up out front. And a retail space. And a honey bar. 🙂

Texas Honey

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Mark shows some visitors the backyard hive

We are wrapping up the day as fast as we can so we can hit the hay – wow, what a day. We opened up the honey house for a first peek at this year’s local honey crop and we had some wonderful visits with folks who have been waiting patiently for the local Wildflower to get here already. It’s just been a busy but fun day that started with the first customer at 8am. We also got to see some dear friends and family members from out of town and it just meant so much to us that each person made the time to swing by the Bee Ranch to support our business. While honey and honey pots were being sold inside, many loyal customers brought newbees (haha I just coined that so don’t tell me if you’ve seen anyone else using it) with them so we showed the newbees the super gentle hive in the backyard. What wonderful little bees. They just went about their honey-making business paying no mind to us. Smokey was a little confused by the fact that there were people coming and going but no one stopping under the pecan. He just parked himself by the chairs as if he was waiting for class. What a nut.

Now, I had intended to share a bit about the long weekend we enjoyed even though it truly felt like it flew by and how could a three-day weekend feel like a regular weekend anyway? Sigh. I barely made a dent in my to-do list. I would much rather it be like this than to feel bored, as I occasionally hear people utter. How you can be bored in life with so many things to see and do? Anyway, I am out of time. I must get to bed as we have so many things to get done in the morning as Mark heads back to his moonlighting job as Librarian Extraordinaire. I’ll pick this back up tomorrow. Goodnight.

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Brent, Bethany and Ryan of JW Marriott

This morning Mark went and checked on the Marriott bees before heading to the library downtown. The report is good as you can tell from the full frames the chefs and culinary gardener are holding in the picture. Yay bees! Like we’ve said before, we weren’t sure what production would be like at that location and that we’d be happy if the bees survived. Well, they are surviving well (must be the resort and spa services they are enjoying) AND they are making some great honey for us. Wonderful news for all! Mark said that while they didn’t need to add any supers, he was happy with the way they are progressing. All hives look good and healthy and honey is being made. Good job, bees. We are really enjoying our partnership with the fine folks at JW Marriott and we are happy it has been working out.

Speaking of honey…who’s ready for some of the finest tasting honey around?? With our first dip into this year’s honey harvest we have pulled, extracted and bottled enough to start selling some to you all. We are still labeling and prepping but come next Monday, it’s ready for you to stop by anytime you are ready! One or both of us will be around the Bee Ranch on the dates listed below so we hope to see you here.

2012 Honey Sale Flyer

Please keep in mind that we are both now working full time jobs and so Mark won’t be around the Bee Ranch as often as he has been the past couple of years. We are usually here in the evenings after work and of course on weekends but if you plan to visit, it’s probably best if you could call or email us. We want to be here to meet you!

Phone: (830)305-7925
Email: info@gretchenbeeranch.com

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While we worked on the display for the Gift & Gourmet hutch, we listened to the wonderful rain coming down on the honey house. What a wonderful soaking we are getting! This will really pump up the greenery and liven up blooms for the bees. I’m sure they will get the boost they need from this rain (and Saturday’s 1.5 inches) and chug along with their honey production. Good. Because we have a lot of people wanting that awesome local honey and that includes me. I love our specialty honeys but I am so in love with our Wildflower and Mesquite. We are on our last two pound jar from last year and don’t think I don’t have this thought in my mind – if we run out before the harvest, how can I get a frame of honey out? Hmm…

The first picture is our work in progress with the hutch we found for our retail display at Gift & Gourmet. EXCITED is an understatement about wanting to see their new location downtown. They have been renovating an old building and Mark said it looked great today when he stopped by there to speak with the owner. He said it brought William Sonoma to mind. o_o I l-o-v-e that store. Too bad I don’t make a lot of money so I can go buy things there all the time. 🙂 Anyway, sounds like we are going to have our very own WS shop in town and I am thrilled. I have love Gift & Gourmet since before I even moved to Seguin. They are exquisite – product and staff alike. Check them out if you haven’t already.

The picture below is a Chinese Tallow, one of two we saw on our walk Sunday evening. Bees love it and we saw a couple on there so maybe they are our little backyard girls. There are two things I want to share with you about this – 1. I almost never remember the correct name of this tree. I tend to call it a Japanese Tallow and sometimes I get it right but second guess myself so that now it’s a game with me and Mark to see if I get it right. 2. The fact that we went for a walk that was about a mile, maybe a little over, is awesome news for me. I had stopped running and walking outdoors because my allergies had gotten so bad several years ago. But now that they are better (thanks local honey), I wanted to try it. So we did. And no headache. I am THRILLED. Thanks honey bees.

Chinese Tallow bloom

And as we come to the close of my post, it’s sprinkling. How lovely to have more rain. And the rest of the week also promises thunderstorms here and there. I have the solo piano channel on Pandora playing. And I have Mark sitting across from me working on his own work. And I don’t think I could ask for a more perfect life with a more perfect person for me. My beekeeper is helping me get through some of the down times I have with my mother gone. Amazingly, he found the one thing that flips my emotional switch pretty easily and when he utters that one thing, I find my tears drying and I am either laughing or trying to not to get mad. Weird, right? I won’t tell you what that thing is because I don’t want everyone stopping me from crying from time to time. As I tell Mark…”IT’S HEALTHY TO CRY!!!!”

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Fall at the Bee Ranch

Here’s a peek into our back yard – you can see the Honey House in the background there. I was struck by the loveliness of the peach tree leaves and the bee boxes as I left for work this morning. Made me want to put my stuff down and get to work on our orders. But…the IT world awaited me. Anyway, I had to wait for more pine cone candles, which Mark is making at a furious pace to keep up with our orders. The opposite of the serene shot above would be the basketmania that continue this evening. We are so thrilled and thankful for the orders that have been coming in for just about everything. The baskets, however, are the most popular gift items right now and most of them need to go out this week. I made what feels like tons of baskets and used up almost everything Mark had in terms of baskets, candles, excelsior, bubble wrap…you name it, I used it up and it’s an awesome problem to have! He’s got another mountain of boxes to take to UPS tomorrow so I get a little bit of a break now, although it will probably be past 11p before we actually get to bed.

Here are some of the baskets we made, wrapped and boxed this evening. What you see on the floor is all from one order! What a great Santa. 🙂

Basketmania part two

We had a great Saturday – class was awesome, followed by a fabulous Open House. It was cold and then it started to rain but people still packed the Honey House up to 5:30-ish. We sure do appreciate everyone coming by that day and supporting our business. We hope you and your gift recipients enjoy all the goodies you bought! We’ll be and open pretty much every day up Christmas day itself so if you need teacher gifts, stocking stuffers, coworker gifts, self-indulgence-because-I’m-worth-it gifts…you know how to get a hold of us! info@gretchenbeeranch.com or 830-305-7925.

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Honey Rustler at Yulefest 2011

Yulefest wrapped up about five hours ago and while we are going through paperwork to balance things, we put off totally unpacking until daylight hours. In the comfort of our cozy little home, we now look to the coming week and the big events we have lined up –

  1. Wednesday, Dec. 7 – Chamber of Commerce General Membership Luncheon. We’ll be there as part of the Expo and we’ll have a table set up with information and possibly some products for sale. They’re looking into whether or not selling products is something doable at that kind of function.
  2. Saturday, Dec. 10 (10-12pm) – Introduction to Beekeeping. This is our last class of the year since Christmas is just about here and even we need that break to see family and tend to personal life. 🙂 Besides, the bees want to take a little holiday break, too. They aren’t too crazy about being opened up during the winter mornings, even in south Texas.
  3. Saturday, Dec. 10 (2-6pm) – Second Annual GBR Holiday Open House. We had so much fun last year, we decided to do this again based on feedback from many of you. We hope you can swing by to say hi, do a little shopping, enjoy the company and some little treats we’ll have for you. The hot apple cider with mulling spices is back! I’m glad it was a hit. 🙂

Dec 10, 2011 GBR Open House

Y’all have a great week ahead and we’ll be hoping we get to meet up with you somewhere, some day soon. Meanwhile, thanks for all your support and love. You guys make this really fun even when we are drop-dead tired.

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Us at Thanksgiving

Today we got to spend some time with a few members of our family, enjoy some great cooking and then a nice walk on a gorgeous, perfect day. And we talked. And we want to give thanks for all the blessings we’ve received this year! Here’s a short list of some highlights of our blessings –

  • Our health is in good shape which is awesome since Mark has to work the bees so much out in the weather. His back is in good shape and we are so thankful for our physical health.
  • Despite the extreme drought, we managed to get a bit of honey from our bees AND we managed to not lose too many of them. We think about this each time we hear from another beekeeper who got no honey AND/OR lost his hives.
  • We are soooo thankful for the chance to pursue a passion for working with the bees. It feels incredible to give back to nature and to feel like you’re really contributing to an important cause.
  • All of you! Our business would not be at this point if it were not for you! Thank you so much for reading and shopping and telling others and coming to events and just for your support in general of what we’re doing. We love meeting you all here at the Bee Ranch and at events. It’s one of our favorite things about this business venture.

There. I tried to keep it succinct. 🙂 And now we look ahead to the coming month – the busiest shopping time of the year. We are gearing up for our two final big events but we hope we get to see a lot of people stop by the honey house for some holiday shopping. We hope y’all stop in tomorrow and throughout the weekend and visit with us and other local merchants. You don’t have to camp out like the folks we saw outside Best Buy the other night. Nope, no lines here. Just a crazy Smokey, ready to welcome you on our behalf. Whether you’re looking for gift ideas for loved ones or for your coworkers, we’ll be able to help you figure out some great options. We’ve got pre-made baskets but we also have helped folks put together nice little $10 gift bags for coworkers, volunteers and other recipients who are difficult to buy for. Need ideas? Drop by the Bee Ranch or drop us a line.

Best Buy camping shoppers

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Waiting in the HEB lobby

We just got in from the honey house for the evening. We have been trying to finish up bottling and labeling local honey and when we finished that, we moved back to labeling boxes of specialty honeys. Man it is still hot out there. I was drenched by the time we called it a night. We also prepped for tomorrow morning’s beekeeping class as well as the 2011 Honey Harvest Sale Event from 4-8p here at the ranch on Krezdorn. More on that tomorrow.

This week we celebrated our tenth anniversary – yay us! I got the day off Wednesday and we had a super fab day together. I don’t think we’ve ever been more busy or more happy. Our big meeting was with a representative of HEB, which is the larger grocer in Texas for those of you not from here. It was so flattering and exciting to be contacted by them and asked for product information. We feel the initial meeting went well and we look forward to hearing from them after they do some number crunching. The process was so interesting. I told some friends that I felt as if I was in grade school and I was waiting my turn to have a project judged. 🙂 Not stressful, just suspenseful sort of. We entered the lobby of the headquarters in San Antonio, along with several other people and their products. The above picture was the only one I managed to snap since I didn’t think anyone would want me snappy pictures of them waiting their turn. That’s me sitting there with our bag of samples and sampler box we made just for the visit. They got to keep the sampler box. Lucky! We met two very nice men who were from New Mexico I believe. They were presenting a new package of beer that HEB already carries in some of their 300 stores. They gave us some input on their experience working with HEB and it was all positive. They said it was a “life changer” if you get to partner with the store. In a good way (when we asked which way they meant lol). So here’s to HEB and the possibilities. We’ll keep you posted!

Other work included Mark trekking out to the yards to check on the queens from Derwin Thrash of Mississippi. Great news – all queens were accepted AND some of them had already gotten super busy and had several frames of eggs laid. Mark was very, very pleased to see this. He’s ordered more queens from Derwin and will use them when he divides the remainder of the hives in September. Derwin was mentored by the awesome JN Russell. We still think of him and miss him dearly. Wish we could still visit and have a cup of tea and some of his pecan pie made from scratch. We are so glad to carry on with Derwin.

Derwin's queen bee

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