Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

HH construction December 16, 2013

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

Shipping GBR goodies out for the holidays

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

Getting punchy

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

Smokester sort of helps out with packaging


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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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Mark & bees

Hi everyone! After a lovely week in Florida with my side of the family, we are back home just in time to wrap up 2011 and to ring in the new year ahead of us. Today was a lovely day to come back to – perfect warmth with a slight nip in the air. Lots of sun, which means the bees in the back yard were flying pretty well when we checked on them. Mark said they were even bringing in some pollen. That’s always nice to see. We missed them during our short week away. 🙂

We had a few calls, a few emails and a few online orders this week. Can’t beat that. Running our business is hard but it’s also nice when you can take a bit of a break and still manage to do some business on the road. Technology is great for that. Back to the Bee Ranch today – those emails we received were from people wanting to stop by for honey and/or candles so we opened up the honey house as soon as we got home so that we can air it out a bit. Cranked up the wax melter and by tomorrow we should be pouring some more beeswax products. Got an order for 80 1-oz bars while we were gone so we are excited to get that filled. Some friends also stopped by to visit and pick up some honey. It’s always great to see our friends, especially from a distance away. We love to show them what we’re doing and how things work in the honey house. And we’re always happy when they have great questions and want to know more about beekeeping. Neither Mark nor I ever seem to tire of talking with people about these things.

Talking extraction with friends

Of course, Smokey welcomed us back and seemed right at home with our visitors, as usual. It’s nice when things are as they always are sometimes. As we look forward to the new year ahead, we were thinking back to all the wonderful adventures and beginnings we’ve had with our business in 2011. We sure couldn’t have done it without all the support of you, our friends and family. Our little business really took some big steps this year – getting products into new retail outlets, growing the number of hives we have, increasing awareness about bees through educational presentations and talks and our beekeeping class, increasing the number of events we attend, getting better organized in the honey house, getting the website up and running, getting more media coverage in print, online and on tv, getting our finances in order with formal assistance so we can better assess cost versus revenue…and more! And here’s to even more of “and more” in 2012. 🙂

Lazy warm winter day

Here are some of the things we resolve for 2012:

  • Be better caretakers of the bees and share that knowledge with others
  • Increase the quantity and quality of our hives
  • Find new opportunities for the bees to pollinate and produce food for people
  • Mark said he resolves to live in more harmony with Smokey (I cleaned that up to keep this positive! 🙂 )
  • I resolve to blog on all my blogs more regularly!

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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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thien with baskets

Yep, it’s never too early to plan for the holidays, folks. So after a long day of work for both of us, we grabbed some dinner, ran errands and then started working on gift baskets. We needed to see what products looked like in the baskets we had purchased as samples. We narrowed it down to these four baskets so then I got to work filling them up with Mark’s help. We’ve never made gift baskets professionally but we’ve received plenty and then tried it out last year on our family members. They liked them so much, we started thinking about doing it for GBR and as more people asked for baskets to gift to others, we knew it was time to jump in with it. There’s a lot more to it than throwing products into a basket so as always, we learn a lot along the way. Our niece Clair did the legwork for us on where to find affordable baskets since one of her papers in college business class focused on our business. As a matter of fact, her proposal was for us to start offering gift baskets to grow our business – so a big thanks to Clair! We used your vendor list, honey! Then you need to also think about the filler “grass” as I call it – official name? Excelsior Moss. Fancy. We need it in bulk. And then we’ll need to find cellophane and some raffia. This should be fun because I love gift wrapping so basket making can’t be much different. 🙂 We already have about twenty baskets pre-ordered and we hope to sell many more at our holiday events and trade shows. We’ll be sure to show you the final products when we decide on everything. We will narrow it down to one small and one large basket this year. Thought we’d start out with something manageable.

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