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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Pearl Market treats

While we love road tripping, we sure love coming home! Getting the bees from Florida is always fun but also a lot of stress since we worry about their well-being the entire trip and you never know what can happen on the road. I have a lot of pictures I need to upload and then I will devote a separate posting just for that since it is deserving of special focus.

What’s with the picture up top? Those are things we got at the Pearl last time we worked it. And you know what? We sure missed good eating while on the road! Can’t wait to get back to market and get some fresh, local foods! Top of the list – Brussels sprouts. And more spinach for this (I call it the Green Thienie Surprise since I sprung it on the men a few weeks ago):

Green Smoothie

And speaking of market and the last time we worked it, our friend Beatriz gave us this very cool waxed sheet of fabric that we can use as a food storage option – it’s reusable! This was a sweet gift and timely as I would like to learn how to make these also so maybe I will ask Beatriz to tell me more about it next time we have a chance to visit. I saw these on one of my favorite websites/blogs/shops (Food 52) and they had sandwich storage beeswax sheets such as this. I hadn’t had time to follow up with more research and then here we are…Beatriz beat me to it. Thanks, friend!

Beeswax storage sheet

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We are so thrilled to finally have all the components ready for the rollout of our first-ever holiday ornaments! We had been working on the packaging as I have mentioned in previous posts and now we’re ready. We did a soft launch this past weekend at market and class but now these lovelies are up for grabs anywhere and anytime. I still have to do an official photo shoot in order to prep them each for the website but here’s the basic information you’ll need to know to decide if you want to buy them for yourself or as a gift for others:

  • Angel with Candle and Santa & Kitty ornaments are each $14.
  • Round Tree of Life ornament is $16.
  • All ornaments are 100% pure beeswax – all natural with no artificial scents added, just the sweet and natural honey in there. All beeswax comes from right here in South Texas.
  • We hand-pour and pull each ornment in our Candle Shop here at the Bee Ranch.
  • Each ornament comes in its own linen bag that includes a pull-twine-tie and a folded, heavy-stock information booklet with a history of beeswax ornaments and care and handling tips.

Surprise!!!! Soft intro of holiday ornaments today at @pearlbrewery farmers market.

Here’s the front of the booklet:

New holiday ornament booklets  arrived!

The inside and back are filled with beeswax ornament history and care information:

Inside the insert

Also, just so you know, I can’t wait to do a beeswax ornament themed tree this year – our first. 🙂 Excited! We’ve been testing the impact of small lights on the ornaments and are happy to report there is no significant impact whatsoever and I’ve had the bulb touching the ornaments for weeks. There’s barely any warmth where it touches the wax so it appears to withstand the lights quite well.

New beeswax ornaments - testing heat factor from Christmas lights

PS – You can click on each picture to view them at a larger size. Just a reminder.
Subscript to the PS – I did some Christmas shopping already and I’m putting a gift under the tree tonight! HEHE

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Financial work sessions

Today’s work is some serious financial reconciliations and planning and strategies for future efficiencies. Even while we took a late lunch break, we continued to discuss business matters, covering everthing from nuc sales forecasting to holiday ornanment pricing structure. We are so blessed to have a sister who loves her financials and loves us. Win, win. 🙂 We’re also blessed because we get to celebrate with her even as we work. Thuy is a breast cancer survivor and it’s a little over a year since she was first diagnosed and underwent her first surgery to remove the cancer. Through it all she has just let her magnificent light shine and it now shines even brighter than I have ever known it to – she’s glowing with life and a pure happiness and joy that comes from learning not to take a day for granted. Last fall, Thuy’s days were often filled with chemo treatments, meaning plenty of not so great side effects that kept her from doing anything except sleeping so her body could heal. We are all so thankful that she has made such a great recovery in so little time. I know it’s been a year but it is just hard to believe it’s been a full year. Seems like yesterday when we had to cancel her trip to the Bee Ranch thanks to the dreaded BC diagnosis. This summer, Thuy told me she wants to enjoy every single day of fall and winter since she missed them both last year. I just really love how she is embracing each day she wakes up and it inspires me even more to do the same myself. So here we are, enjoying even the work we must do while we are on our little mini-vacation. Really, who can complain about work when you get to look up and see the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and shrimping boats and dolphin pods and gentle waves. Not us!

To date, we are entering fall in pretty good shape in almost all bee yards. Last week in our area, we averaged about 5.5 inches of rain on top of the recent weekly rains. This fall rain is great and will hopefully mean the bees will be good and strong come next spring so they can gear up for honey production. The pollen and nectar they continue to bring in this fall all go towards building up their winter honey stores, meaning we leave it for them and they will sustain themselves with little intervention from us. We do have several gallon bags full of pollen should some of the bees need a boost to help them get to spring in good shape. In other bee biz news, mite treatments were all administered. The Honey House building continues to move along even if it is slower than we’d like; at least things are happening now that Mark decided he needed to be his own contractor. More work but more control that way. He’s in the collect-bids stage so we’re getting engineers to finally agree and qoutes from plumbers, electricians, septic system designers and builders and so on and so on. Exciting! One day we are really going to be rocking and rolling in our new building and we probably won’t know what to do. Well, yes we will because we are desperate for more space for working but you know what I mean. 🙂

Also wanted to share that we have enjoyed working with our branding consultant, Maeve of Design Maeven, and we have approved labels and tags to the printers. Woohoo! As much as I enjoy “crafting” the handmade Creamed Honey tags, I just don’t have time to do the print-cut-glue-cut-hole-punch-tag process every week. 🙂 Can’t wait to peel and stick all those jars – people love it so much I can hardly keep up with the 48-55 jars we sell weekly pretty consistently. The other part of the rebranding project is our gift tags for the ornaments we want to introduce this year. Can’t wait to show that to y’all and to have the products available for purchase. People have already started pre-orders for the ornaments as Christmas gifts and they haven’t even seen the final packaging! We are so touched by the trust placed with us to do good things. Thank y’all so much!

Now, I must really take a stretch break. We’ve been working all day and while the view of the ocean is lovely and the sound of the gentle waves is relaxing, my east coast soul yearns to walk in the water. Unfortunately, it is a little on the chilly side for a dip in the ocean today (boo) but I hope to do so before we leave. Meanwhile, I have watched this shrimp boat cruise back and forth about three times today so I’m thinking shrimp might be what’s for dinner. Will let y’all know. Will also let you know if Mark and Thuy ever take a break today from their financial planning and reconciliation activities. I’m happy they are making such great progress on their to-do list, however. Thankful, thankful. Talk to y’all soon.

Update 11:42pm EST: They took a break around 5:45p and we finally got to walk along the beach, collecting shells and taking fun pictures and just being thankful for having this time together. I just love being with these two. 🙂

Thinking we will have shrimp for din tonight...2nd pass this AM.

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Enjoying the kitchen window

When I am cooking at the Bee Ranch, I love gazing out the square window above the sink, especially if Mark’s out there working the new hives. When Mark’s on the phone, he often watches the activities outside also. It’s a great view of the trees and sky. Now I’m already missing some of the hives out there. When I was cooking lunch today, it hit me that many of the new divides were moved to their new and permanent home (unless they aren’t doing well, we don’t move hives around).

Moving 12 of the divides

Yesterday Stan and Mark got an early, early start and moved twelve of the new divides from the back yard to their new home, which we are so happy to introduce to you today – the Carolina Bee Yard! Mark chose that name because he said the tall trees at that location reminded him of the tall trees of my home state of North Carolina (GO PACK!). 🙂

Here’s a look of the new hives out at the MooJesus Dairy Farm, which is actually part of the EverythingJesus! Ranch. Actually, they do a whole lot of a lot out there so if you ever have a chance, do take a tour out there. They open back up to the public September 18 according to the website. We love our friends there and what they are doing with the learning, growing and fellowshipping. Happy to be out there with our bees, also!

Our newest bee yard was established today: the Carolina Bee Yard

Here’s a closer look at the hives Mark and Stan set up out on the ranch.

New bee yard out at MooJesus Dairy Farm in Seguin

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Scenic drive on Highway 118

Hello everyone! Sorry it’s been so long but we took some time off to visit our grandbabies and kiddos out in West Texas. And then it was bam, bang, boom as soon as we got back so I haven’t had time to catch y’all up on stuff. So much at work, home AND GBR. Be patient with us and I’ll do a fuller beekeeping post as soon as markets are over. Meanwhile, here’s a quick rundown of a few things.

We had a great visit with the kids, fell in love with the grandkids and witnessed a lot of beautiful skies, weather and landscape. Oh yes, and then there was the rainbow. Two of them. We were blessed to witness an amazing double rainbow the last night there and just as we finised dinner at the Lodge where our son works. Gorgeous and breathtaking!

Double Rainbow over Fort Davis Lodge

Back at market today, we introduced our creamed honey and it was met with great enthusiasm and sold out by 11am. Nice. We’ll continue to work on the formal packaging but we have my handmade tags for the time being. Doesn’t seem to be stopping people from enjoying the smooth creaminess and spreadability of the new product. If you haven’t ever had creamed or whipped honey, here’s your chance to grab some. We’ll have a few jars at Quarry tomorrow and try to get more together for next weekend. Hopefully, our project with Maeve for the label will move along quickly and I won’t be making the laborous tags much longer. Not that I mind crafting but there’s too much to do for me to be crafting! 🙂

Earlier on Instagram and Facebook, I posted a shot of three of the new holiday ornaments we are working on so that they’ll be ready in time for holiday shopping – so exciting! We’re trying out molds and seeing how the wax might or might not develop a bloom over time, causing a little bit of haziness on the ornaments. You can easily wipe off the bloom and it doesn’t impact the scent or quality of the ornament at all but we still work on the bloom not happening at all. Anyway, we are just super excited to work with Maeve to develop just the right packaging for the formal introduction of these ornaments. Can’t wait!

Just love the sweet ornaments we're developing for the holidays! Sneak peak  for you.

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Small swarm

Since I am fielding calls quite frequently about bees swarming here and there, I thought I’d do a quick post on a few things that I have found interesting so far this week. First of all, a few words about swarms – they are not necessarily cause for alarm, folks! Bees are actually quite gentle in this state for several reasons. Simply put, they have no home at this point to defend and they are actually quite full of honey so who cares about stinging people. They’ve got to look for a home all while clustered around their queen to keep her safe. That’s right. She’s in the middle of all the bees you might see hanging from a tree, fence, building, air conditioning unit (yep, remember when Mark removed one a few years ago?) or some such place. Usually they will stay only a few days or until they find a new home. While most of the bees are clustered, some scout bees will venture about seeking the perfect space to make their home. Somewhere closed typically so that it’s easily defended. Anyhow, just wanted you to know this is happening right now so you know what it is and why you don’t need to panic. Next topic…

Isn’t she adorable!? When Mark showed me this picture, he knew what my reaction would be – delight. He knows me. I was delighted for sure. She was covered in pollen! She must have rolled all around the flowers. lol They can be so silly and so much like children in my opinion. I love to hear about them and see what they are doing. If you can’t see the bee with pollen dust, look in the upper left quadrant of the photo and see if you can spot the one bee with wings that look mustardy. That’s her. 🙂

That's a dusty girl

In other bee-related news, we got moves going on left and right. Yep, the bees are getting shuffled around. We don’t actually move our hives around too much but when conditions warrant it, it happens. This particular move below was several hives going from the Big Oaks nursery to the Gonzales bee yards. You know how we love the Gonzales honey so here’s hoping they have a great year. I just had some Gonzales Wildflower in my cup of coffee – oh my it was delish. I sometimes forget just how smooth that county honey is – not sure why but it doesn’t seem to crystalize as quickly either. Too bad we didn’t make a lot of it last honey season – this jar was in my reserve. It pays to know the beekeeper, eh? By the way, the ice you see helped keep the bees cool during the drive as it was in the mid-80s that day. We don’t want them overheating while sitting on the truck. They made it just fine.

Moving more hives

Tomorrow Mark and Stan will move more bees – this time from Runge to a new yard they will establish in…wait for it…wait…BIGFOOT!! Finally! I get to write about Bigfoot; got to love that name. Here’s the sign I snapped when we visited the first time –

Bigfoot, Texas

It had such a neat feeling to it. Can’t wait to see what honey is like there. The farm we will be on is amazing. Well, the owner and his crew are what make it amazing. I have a Frio County Farm Visit Flickr set (of course) in case you want to see what the area looks like. We loved it and we can’t wait to work the bees down there! And a word about why we’re moving the bees: There isn’t much for the bees to feed on right now in Runge and they are looking pretty sad. We need to move them somewhere they’ll have some food so they won’t starve to death. This is what you do. You watch and care for them and you help them when they need you, which may not be often but this is a prime example. Sometimes we have people call us and ask our opinion about their hives. Sometimes we can help, sometimes it’s too late. Sometimes something could have been done to help the bees if intervention came sooner. So, here’s some advice for our new beekeepers – get in your hives on a regular basis. If you don’t know exactly when to check on them, at least read this blog or other beekeeper blogs and do what they do. When they check hives, you check hives. When they feed, you feed. When they treat for mites, you treat for mites. 🙂 One of the best ways to learn is to do. So open up those hives and keep an eye on your gals! And few guys.

Okay, I think that’s about it for now. Not bad for a mid-week post. 🙂 Now, I have candles to wrap for market. Lots of candles. Yay! OOOOOH! Forgot to tell y’all that we sold our first bucket o’ unrefined wax to a company that specializes in some very nice looking beauty care products. We’ll let you know how things progress. ALSO…we have signed on to be a participant at the Artisan’s Market being hosted by the La Cantera William-Sonoma! Exciting! More on that soon. It’ll be on a Saturday (April 27) from noon to 4:00 p.m. Can’t wait to share all the varieties of honey with folks and we hope to see as many of YOU ALL out there! That’d be awesome!

Okay, for real this time. Goodnight. 🙂

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Took two days but we now have two new bee yards in Medina County – counting on some delicious Huajilla Honey as part of this year’s honey crop. If we could just get some rain, the bees would just go crazy we think. But still, there are some things already in bloom, especially in our new D’Hanis location (calling them Comanche Creek #1 and #2 since they are on the Comanche Creek Ranch). Mark shot this video after he and Stan finished setting up the bees in the #2 location. He said the bees were really going to town on the blooms, many of which have yet opened. Cool! And he also said that it was wonderfully peaceful out there. Quiet. That’s cool, too. Can’t wait to see it. By the way, this plant is truly called a Twisted Acacia. I love that! Makes me think of that band Twisted Sisters. Not that I was a fan of theirs but I always thought it was a funny band name. I think they had big hair. Random non-bee information for you.

In other news, it was so nice to be back market. It had been two weeks so we were missing everyone. Great to see all our friends and loyal customers. The honey house is still a vision. There’s almost no movement on it from the perspective of getting the land title in our hands before we start building. And it seems every action equals more money out of pocket. We know it will happen. Just not yet. Also, looks like we’ll be moving our operation out of one of our current locations. Will tell you more about that when the time is right but it is a lot of work to move bees and stored equipment out while you’re also trying to gear up the bees for the upcoming burst of spring (we hope, anyway). Some of the challenges of working for yourselves.

On the brighter side of things, we have an appointment to visit with a friend so we can see if her space that could be for rent would work as a temporary harvest/extraction site for this year since we have no honey house. We know the amount of space is more than sufficient but we need to see about lighting (which we could bring in), electricity (definitely need that) and water (we can bring a hot water heater if necessary). Please cross your fingers and say a prayer we find something that will work. We’ll be up a serious creek if we can’t nail down something workable before the REALLY busy time starts soon. 🙂 If you know of anything (affordable or free even), please keep us in mind. Thanks!

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