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Posts Tagged ‘family’

Hello 2015

Mistletoe at the Bee Ranch

Where has our 2014 gone? I love the holidays because it often brings out the best in most people. The holiday season also is one of our busiest retail times with holiday shows and our annual Holiday Open House – this was our 5th year! – on top of the usual weekly store hours at the Bee Ranch and the Saturday Farmers Market at the Pearl AND the kickoff of the first annual Gift Market that Pearl hosted. So, my apologies for not being able to keep up with the blog as I would have loved. You have no idea how many times I have opened this up to add tidbits. I am determined to post today! The problem is we’ve had so much to share that it’s totally overwhelming so I’m going to simplify a bit for now.

First off – HAPPY NEW YEAR!! How has your first day of the new year been? Are you going to fill 2015 up with adventures and laughter and fun along with all the hard work I’m sure we all have ahead of us in life? We plan to enjoy every moment and every beeventure, that’s for sure.

Next, how are our bees doing? Great! It’s the first of January and we’ve been going through a rather wet winter spell though it’s been pretty mild most all of December. Great news for the bees – there’s been a good amount of pollen and nectar gathered for their stores and we’ve actually been amazed at the amount of brood on many of the hives when we opened them up for an occasional check on things. I like it when Mark is excited and happy with the hives’ health. He says it’s looking very good for a great season coming up and we hope this pattern will remain until spring!

We are looking forward to another year of grueling though very rewarding work and the best part of all of this is that we get to work with each other, family members and some of the very best friends anyone could ask for in this world. We are often amazed at how tireless they work to help us when they have plenty going on in their own lives as well. We sure appreciate each and every person in our life. We love you and we learn from you.

This is the lovely Thuy who stopped by in December for too short a visit. But while she was here, she sure did help us with ornament making and candle pouring. Oh yes, and bookkeeping. Fun! Always fun to have her help. Awwww...my two ornament making maniacs!!! 😬👍🐝

And then there’s our adorable, hard-working grandson – if you are doing something, he wants to help. That young man sure has learned a great work ethic early in life! He seems to get great satisfaction out of whatever it is he is doing. We sure love him!

Our lil boo helped me with more gift baskets before he left. We love spending time with him!

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Hot tea with Honey Citrus Syrup

So a few weeks ago, after the mad rush of holiday activities, I finally came down with something. It didn’t feel like a flu but it didn’t feel like just allergies. I guess it could have been a combination of really bad allergies and a really bad cold. I was out of it, sleepy all the time, no energy, congested, coughing and freezing all the time (which is really unheard of for me and that’s how Mark knows I must really be ill). My sore throat could only be soothed with hot beverages and the lemon honey tea is always nice for that. I think all the talking during Pearl market really was what pushed me over the sick edge. The soar throat was just killing me from talking for about four hours and inhaling all that cold air and whatever was flying around that day. Anyway, I did have some nice down time and fortunately it happened when things were slow at my other job as well, with so many coworkers on vacation or out ill.

Hot tea with lemon and honey

At market, we often exchange ideas with friends and customers about uses for our products and other vendors’ products. And so I had a chance to talk again about using our honey in a cough syrup and decided I should really do it. So I combed through many blogs and recipe sites to see what was out there for natural honey recipes for coughs. I really liked the sounds of one in particular and I used it as a base model for some syrup to help my and Tang’s coughs. It’s essentially this: fill a jar (any size but I used a pint jar) 3/4 of the way up with lime slices and about 2 teaspoons worth fresh ginger (I just sliced up what looked like the equivalent of that and then added more slices for good measure since ginger is so good for the digestive system anyway). Then I went to work layering things into the jar.

Ingredients for a Honey Lime Syrup

For an extra boost of local allergy relief, I used the wildflower comb honey I had left from Guadalupe County. I liked the bits of wax that came along for the ride. Couldn’t hurt.

Adding raw honey to the syrup concoction

I mashed things up and then poured more honey in so that it was near the top of the jar. Then it went in the fridge over night and the next night we each had a cup of hot tea with one teaspoon of the syrup. Even though Mark doesn’t typically like citrus flavors in this hot tea, he did like this formula and the three of us give this syrup three thumbs up for sure. I am excited to next try a rosemary-lime-honey syrup since we have a potted rosemary by the back door and I love rosemary! You can also try oranges with cloves and honey but I haven’t done that one yet.

Lime Ginger Honey Syrup in the fridge

I sent some of my pictures and information out to family and friends and my brother Tuan sent me his picture of his own version. I like learning from others and in his version, he used five very juicy limes and upped the amount of ginger (as in he used “a ton” of fresh ginger they had in the freezer, he said). He did the 3/4 lime-ginger and 1/4 honey combination and stirred it all up, adjusting sweetness and sourness to his liking. Then he popped it into the refrigerator for a few hours and then proceeded to down five tablespoons straight up. He cracked me up! It does taste very good and I can see myself doing the same if I would allow it, which I won’t. haha Anyway, thank you brother dear for sharing your concoction and picture with us and for letting me use it here. I love how you committed immediately with the quart size jar! By the way, I am so happy to see you guys are burning the candles! We will send more.

Another version of the Honey Lime Syrup

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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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Local honey stock

…call for cautious hoarding. 🙂 Of honey, that is. In case you have forgotten or you’ve only recently started reading our blog, I am not from here and after five wonderful years of only having to adjust to the long heat months, I was slammed pretty rudely by all allergens in the area. All of them. Like if I spent 15 minutes outside gardening, walking or anything, it’s more than likely I got a severe allergy headache within the hour. It had gotten to the point that I would forget about my allergies and plan an outdoor activity, only to reach for the door handle and suddenly realize, I’d have to pick between working/playing outdoors and wasting the rest of the day feeling miserable or just staying inside. Not happy. So…when Mark started hives again at the Krezdorn house so we could have some local honey, I was thrilled that after some time of eating honey, my allergies were very manageable. No more shots and steroids and antibiotics needed, not that they remained effective for me after a couple of years.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, see the picture above? It’s our honey cabinet (I stashed some vinegar in there since I ran out of reachable space elsewhere in the kitchen) and yes, there are lots of jars there. 🙂 Last week, Mark pointed out to me that there were quite a number of local honey jars up there…AND?!?!? haha I must have them! I must! It’s my medicine and the thought of running out before we harvest this year’s crop was not a happy thought. I take about a teaspoon a day in my coffee and I can tell when I skip out on the Guadalupe County honeys. While the Wildflower does the best work on me, I am particularly fond of the Mesquite from both Guadalupe and Gonzales counties. Imagine my joy when I rediscovered a bit of it when I perused the honey cabinet with Mark. I think it’s funny we have a honey cabinet, as opposed to most people having liquor cabinets. Anyway, random thought thrown in for fun.

One of my most fav honeys

I LOVE this Mesquite. We don’t know if we’ll get any this year – it just seems like everything overlapped in blooming so it’s probably going to be all mixed in with all the other wildflowers, from Bluebonnets to Indian Blankets to Primrose to all the bloomed out trees and brush. Not that this is a bad thing – a mixed pollens honey actually is even better for allergy relief! But, I do love the Mesquite smoothness. When people ask us to describe honeys we have, we always qualify it with the statement that everyone’s tastebuds are different. And what you like right now may not be the same taste you like two years from now. Our tastebuds change over time. But if I had to describe Mesquite, I go with the description that it’s one of the smoothest honeys I’ve ever had – a little like caramel, little like butter…sweet but not floral. GREAT in coffee. Which now makes me really want to brew a cup of my favorite Dunkin Donut Coconut. Yep. It’s gonna happen.

I have to fess up…this stash is on the stove below our honey cabinet. lol

Local honey stock

Hmm…I’m trying to use up jars with a little honey left but you go with the honey that is best for what you are planning. If I cook (and depending what I cook), then I go with a bolder, usually darker honey such as the Huajilla or Blueberry. For coffee, I like a light one such as the Mesquite or Montana Clover. For Pecan Pie we’ve tried Blueberry and Orange Blossom and both have been very good; great flavor. I try and do Wildflower daily when my allergies are starting to irritate me though when I first started taking honey for allergies, I was strict about Wildflower always. Over time, I have had the luxury of switching it up. Besides, I enjoy all the other flavors so much!

Finally, I just want to say that we always appreciate our families supporting us in all of this. They help out, they order honey, candles and baskets, they pass out GBR postcards to friends and teachers and anyone who mentions they are interested in bees or honey…we are so loved and we sure appreciate it. We had commissioned one of our sweet nieces to paint several flower paintings for our new home. I told her to think about her commission, considering painting time, energy, thought and planning, materials, etc. She wrote back that all she’d like is some of the good honey her Uncle Mark makes. OMG, tear-fest. Seriously. What a sweetheart. So this is what we’re sending her. That darling girl. We are blessed beyond belief.

Bartering for art

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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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June requeen Pizza

It has been cloudy and cold all day to ring in the new year and of course, that makes Mark long for the summer sun so he asked me to post a picture of a typical summer day here in South Texas. What better representation than our Pizza Bee Yard out towards Gonzales, which is east of Seguin about an hour. We hope you have been enjoying the holiday season as much as we have this year. It’s been a big year for us and we were happy to be busy but also happy to have had a little rest the past couple of days. It feels as if we’ve been moving at 95 miles per hour non-stop since….spring perhaps. We were blessed to have my dad and brother visit from Florida – loved showing them the markets and work we do and they also seemed to enjoy their time with us and Lan. Lots of fun and now missing them as things quieted down again around the house.

With a break from my other full time job, I was so happy last week to be outside with Mark at a bee yard again. It has been a while and I really didn’t want to miss out on the almost perfect day – look at that blue sky! It was absolutely gorgeous out that day last week. Air was dry and crisp though a bit windy. We waited until it hit the 60s and then we went out to Nash Creek. The bees like that area and produced good honey there this year so we’re looking forward to seeing how they do next season. It’s a small yard so we’ll be looking to grow in hive number though likely in a different Nash Creek location. Not sure where yet. The hives looked robust though there was one slightly lackluster one that Mark fed in hopes of reviving it. We sure needed rain and thankfully we finally got some rain to welcome in the new year. Yay for the bees! Let’s pray for more rain. We’re going to need more if we’re going to have another booming honey harvest in 2013.

Nash Creek yard check 2

Here’s one of our lovely and quite large queens Mark let me spot in one of the hives. I like to keep in good practice with picking out the queens, especially when they are not marked.

Nash Creek yard check 6

After we checked on the bees, we dropped off some equipment for storage at The Farm yard. Plus Mark wanted to check on the new Hansvold bees he and Stan picked up a couple of weeks ago. Here’s a panoramic shot of where we store some of our equipment during winter months.

Storage area at The Farm yard

And on the same property but on the other side of the road, we have the little nursery where the Hansvold bees will remain until spring. At that time, we’ll either move them into other yards or we’ll sell some of them. They did so well for us last year and we were really pleased to be able to get some more of them to add to our apiary.

The Farm Nursery 3

One more shot just because I just love the Century Cacti that grow around here. 🙂

The Farm Nursery 7

And finally, I want to send a special hello to our my sweet friend Mary of NC – hi Mary! We finally got your wonderful card, sweet girl. Thank you for thinking of us here at the Bee Ranch. We can’t wait to see you later this month!

Enjoy the new year, friends! And bee safe. [Sorry, couldn’t resist that.]

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New gift packaging idea

Just because I’m away visiting family doesn’t mean I’m away from the bee biz or that I’ve stopped working on it from afar. And here, I have help! 🙂 I am in NC with my sister and her family for the week. Miss Mark, Smokey and the homestead but it’s good to be here with Thuy. This is us today – heading out to vote! Woohoo!

Thuy & I go vote

As you can tell, we are a little bundled up – more so than I would be in Texas. That’s because it was 37 degrees this morning when I took my nephew to school. I love this cold weather; it makes me more energetic. And I get to wear scarves. I know this has not much to do with honey or beeswax but I’m getting there.

Okay, so while here I am working my day job still and helping around the house with errands while my sister recuperates. However, she is very active so when she’s not resting, she’s talking bee biz with me which is really a lot of fun. She also happens to be one of our biggest supporters so she continues to gift away goodies and also spreads the word about Mark’s beekeeping. We love her for her enthusiasm! lol Thuy has helped me with some display and packaging ideas for the upcoming holiday shopping ideas. Here are some examples you may be seeing real soon in Texas…

Candle take-out
Lotus & votives in a take out box

Here’s a look inside
Peeking inside the take-out box

Candle display plate
Thuy's candle display 2

Another favorite of Thuy’s
Thuy's candle display 1

And believe it or not, I actually got to be here when some of our boxes arrived so that I could see how the recipients see our products when they arrive. Thuy ordered five baskets and some lotus flowers. Everything made it intact and the only significant thing I noticed was that one jar of honey in one of the baskets completely flip flopped over so that the labeled side was face down. Weird. Not sideways. Not caddywhompus. Just a 180-degree turn. Wonder how that happened.

Thuy's gift baskets arrive

And last but not least, I wanted to share that I managed to lug along eight honey samplers for the family so they can share with their friends anytime they wish to do so. That’s eight pounds of honey in a checked bag. I’m sure TSA was curious. Not to mention the two 8-oz gift jars. Luckily nothing leaked but I had each jar in a plastic bag at any rate. I’m sure they rummaged in there as usual. Remember, if you pack honey, they pretty much always inspect your bag. 🙂 Happy to say I’ve done two honey tastings already and I love to tell Thuy’s girlfriends about the bee biz we love so much. Thanks for sharing us out, Thuy!

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