Posted in bees, beeswax, dividing, education, equipment, Extraction, food, honey, honey house, Honey Plants, plants, store, weather, tagged class, harvest, honeycomb, kumquats, rain, retail, weather on August 23, 2016|
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Hi there! At the beginning of August, I noted the huge ground cracks at our lovely little Bee Ranch. I was hand watering my garden and thought I’d drop some water into one of the cracks to see if it’d fill up a bit of land and after about 30 seconds, I gave up. No water filling up at all. It was sort of sad to see the land like that again – even though it’s sort of typical for August in South Texas, it’s still hard to see things drying up so badly. Anyway, here we are approaching the end of the month and we have now had about 16 inches of rain (give or take a few inches as I’ve lost track of the rainfall). We keep thinking, “what a weird August we are having!” But we are not complaining. It’s just different.
Mark and his crew continue to harvest and are just about to wrap up the year. Only a little bit left to pull from the yards and extract. It has been a bit of work to make sure everything is dry before storing but Mark is getting through it all to get the moisture levels to where they need to be so the honey doesn’t go bad. Check out this selection of comb honey the bees made this year –
Sales at the Bee Ranch on the two mornings we are open to the public have been awesome and make us super happy we decided to focus our energies to increasing traffic here instead of out and about. The beekeeper workshops Mark conducts on Saturdays he’s free have been awesome – what a great way for new beekeepers to meet each other and continue learning from one another. Last weekend we covered how to process Ross Rounds and of course we sampled for our guests – super fun! Join us sometime if you can. You can check all our social media for upcoming topics and other developments or you can just call us at 830-305-7925.
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Posted in bee craft, bees, beeswax, education, equipment, Extraction, food, health, honey, Honey Plants, photography, tagged aphids, drawn comb, harvest, honey supers, honeycomb, honeydew, wild persimmon on June 27, 2016|
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Often I like to go out to the Honey House after work, or any chance I have. We both really love that we work and live on the same property so we can enjoy this luxury. I was intrigued by the lovely beeswax the bees had drawn out on this frame. We have pretty much run out of honey supers for the girls to fill up. This happens when we have grown in the number of hives we have AND it is a good honey flow year AND the honey is slow to dry out so we can’t extract quickly in order to reuse the supers. If you don’t continue to provide adequate space (supers in this case), then you slow the girls’ productivity and essentially can miss out on prime honey making opportunities.
We are taking this as an opportunity to just let our bees draw out some comb on more frames which will be useful in the future. Sometimes people say or ask how we feel about forcing the bees to make honey by continuing to put supers on. Mark, who has kept bees for over 30 years, told me that people who ask that have never likely kept bees or they’d know whether we provide the supers or not, they bees WILL make honey. That’s what they do. And it is a real mess when they don’t have adequate space in their home to store the honey. I am always learning new things when we discuss things like this and he is always good about answering questions that come up that I raise to his attention. He’s so busy tending to the bees as well as managing the business that he doesn’t see/hear all the social media, email and phone activities since I try to field those for him. Back to honey-making…don’t worry, we are pulling some supers when possible but we are simply taking our time and letting nature take its course. Rushing never works great in the long run. Here’s a beautiful frame the men brought in last week.
Do you like persimmons? I love them. Have you seen them in the wild? Out in a field in the middle of nowhere? On a ranch? On the side of some old dirt road you’re cruising to look for wildflowers or wildlife? Here’s another thing I learned about bees and how persimmons come into play.
Have you ever noticed bees going to a wild persimmon bush or tree? But you look and think, hey, there aren’t any flowers right now. That’s odd. This happened here in our area a couple weeks ago. The wild persimmons had already bloomed out earlier this year and Mark knew that but saw bees on the big bushes so he took a closer look and watched patiently to see what the bees were doing. He took that picture for me and for us to share with you. Those are aphids and I missed them at first. He told me that the aphids secrete a honeydew on the wild persimmon bushes and that the bees must be gathering it. You can’t find a lot of writing on the matter but I read a post somewhere that people say they gather the honeydew there for different reasons – some say they do it when they are desperate while others say they collect it regardless of what else is out there because it’s just what they do. Whatever the case is, our bees were seen on the wild persimmons. Good eye, honeybee!
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Hello there! Guess what we added to the calendar since we are actually doing more work around the Bee Ranch now? A new class date for Introduction to Beekeeping. Our next class will be Saturday, July 18 in case you are interested. Here’s link for more information as well as to register. We have some seats still available and hope you can join us! Click here for class info.
In other wonderful news – pollen, pollen, and more pollen. WOW! We are loving how the pollen looks AND tastes this year. Subtly sweet and soft to the touch. Due to the hot weather, we aren’t shipping it out but if you would like some, do stop by the Bee Ranch one Wednesday or Saturday (9-12pm).
And in case you would prefer honey – it’s coming! We have started a slow harvest due to rainy spells and high levels of moisture in the honey. What we have harvested, we like. A lot. And we can’t wait to host a few honey tasting events to share it with you all!
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Okay, so you are probably wondering why everyone’s looking at their finger, right? 🙂 One of the joys of keeping our hives gentle with out-of-state queens is that we can have class with little worry about people getting the backyard bees worked up too much. Sometimes we have to urge our students to keep their veils and gloves on as they just get real comfortable around the bees. It probably doesn’t help that Mark and I are minimally veiled. Once in a while a bee may get irritated but I usually just step away a bit until she leaves me alone. If not, I just add a veil and gloves. Back to the picture – now that the bees are making honey, the students got to taste some honey straight from the frame. That was unexpected and very fun I think. I know I enjoyed it when Mark let me do that the first time at Gonzales bee yard. Yum. Nothing like tasting fresh honey straight from the frame. If you’re really lucky, your beekeeper gives you a bit of honeycomb that the bees built off the frame. This is me trying to save the honeycomb that was falling off the hive tool out at Rattlesnake bee yard. I saved it but I managed to get honey all on my hand. I must be the messiest bee yard visitor ever. Mark and David just broke off some honeycomb and popped it in their mouths no problem. I always end up with sticky fingers and then I discover I also got honey in my hair or on my shirt.
Back to class – here is a shot of our session inside the honey house, where we discuss the extraction process and also get to do a honey tasting. We don’t normally get many photos of this portion of class because it’s hard for me to move around when we have more than five students. Plus I have that height challenge. But we managed and we had a great time. As always, people had great questions and discussion was awesome. The best part is getting into the hive for some hands-on time. I really liked how comfortable everyone was during this portion of class. Though we didn’t get to see the queen during class, we did get to see some great frames of pollen in addition to the honey. No mites seen, which is good. No beetles either. The students got to handle a super so they can feel the average weight of a honey-laden box. I enjoy the classes because I never know when Mark is going to throw in something new that he hadn’t done before in class. Love it.
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We’re busy prepping all our honey for sale and it’s been hard work but a lot of fun, that’s for sure. Thought you might enjoy a couple of shots of the “in the making” session this past weekend with the comb. It was a really cool process to watch as Mark measured, cut and bottled the comb and then poured the honey in the jars.
Can’t wait to give it a try.
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