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Posts Tagged ‘splits’

Friday view from my fave yellow hive - we love to see a storm brewing! #bees #beekeeping #sky #texas #gretchenbeeranch

As we continue to experience growth with our bees as well as our business, the work day keeps stretching out longer and longer and then here we are in Spring already. We are happy to report that our wet winter is rolling right into a somewhat wet spring and things are about as green as we would expect to see when we visit family along the east coast. Lush grasses and trees along with a multitude of wildflowers everywhere you turn your eyes. It truly is one of the best times to be in South Texas and certainly one of the best times to be a honeybee here. EXCEPT that if we don’t get a bit of good ole sunshine soon, it might end up not being a robust honey year. While rain is awesome, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. As Mark often says, conditions have to be just right for a great honey crop. We do need rain but the bees do need a good amount of dry, sunny days in order to fly and forage. There’s a noticeable gap recently in the wildflower blooming. We had massive ways of early Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes and of course sprinklings here and there of other flowers, however, the Indian Blankets which normally appear abundantly are appearing more lazily this spring. That makes an incredible honey so we have hopes of a robust bloom in about a week. In the picture below, I harvested some lavender from our little herb garden out back. Lavender blooms abundantly only with rainfall (versus hand watering) so this is my SECOND harvest of blooms! That should tell you how wet this spring has been. I’ve never been able to harvest enough of it to do anything with the blossoms so this year I am very excited to enjoy them for a while before drying them out. They smile divine! I’m going to infuse some oil and make our own lavender oil I’ve been reading up on lately. I think I will also try adding them to lip balm, which is next on my list of beeswax related items I’ve been developing for our personal use at this time. More on that in a bit.

Harvesting lavender

Today at lunch (one of our few quiet times we have together when we’re actually sitting down), Mark and I were discussing the move of our Cibolo Creek bee hives. We haven’t been there long but we liked it – close to home (just south of Seguin and just on the other side of the county line), made great honey, gorgeous landscape for photographs and just nature enjoyment. But recently we’d notice work getting done – fences going in, land getting cleared. We like to keep in close touch with our landowners so that we know what’s going on and how it might impact our bees. Long story short, we are very happy that two options may have presented themselves today to Mark. We’re so thankful when people meet with us to check out potential bee yard locations and it all happens to work out! Mark says the new locations are both near us so that helps with fuel cost as well as with time, which we find less and less available. Both weekend days are booked now with Pearl Farmers Market (which are both well attended and have been great for our business). Serving as president of the farmers market association has also taken up a lot more of Mark’s time than we anticipated so that’s been a real challenge. And while I can manage with the other social media platforms, it’s harder and harder to find time for an in-depth post on our beloved Bee Blog. So, forgive me. But honestly if you do have access to Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, do find us. I am on there daily as it’s just easier to post pictures as we work and add a short description. Stick with us!

Well, I want to post this before it’s delayed any longer. I told Mark I have started about four times on this and it’s taking me over two weeks. LOL I am determined to get this up on the blog!!!! Take care and hope to catch up with you soon. Much love, Thien & Mark

Spring wildflowers at the Bee Ranch

This is a shot of some of our new hives Mark made up from strong hives this spring. I don’t even know what our current count is anymore for our own hives, but it’s been really wonderful to have had this spring to focus on them.

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The Cali queens have arrived in Seguin! Time to divide some hives.

Yesterday we got our twenty new queens from Olivarez out in California. They’ve been good queens for us and the company has been a good one to work with so we gave them a call last week now that Mark’s ready to make a few divides with hives that seem to be done making any more honey this season.

This is how the post office receives the queens and they will either call us or bring them by the Bee Ranch. Inside, the queen cages are stacked. Sometimes, each queen will come with their own attendant bees inside the cage with her. These bees take care of her. Other times, we may receive them like this – attendants on the outside of the cages so they can care for all the queens together. Pretty neat. (I recall one time when the box was left open in the house and I came home to several attendant bees buzzing about – just have to be careful about opening the box.)

20 Olivarez queens all arrived alive and well.

Since he can’t install all twenty queens at one time or in one day with everything else he has to do, he has built his own Queen Bank (I call it the QB) so that the queens can be cared for in an efficient manner. This little frame has worked well in the past and the bar across the front can be easily moved out of the way so he can remove any number of queen cages needed.

The queen bank: temporary housing for the Olivarez queens

The frame is inserted into a small hive that he found at Big Oaks when we went out there early evening yesterday. Now begins the process of identifying hives that are strong enough (have a lot of bees) to be split/divided. And out of one strong hive, you can make two! And sometimes, when we have a super strong hive, we have even been known to make three hives from one. Crazy, isn’t it? And that, in a nutshell, is one way in which you can increase your hives. When I went home for lunch today, he already had four new hives out of the Big Oaks hives. I think he mentioned there could be more out of that yard. Then he proceeds to other bee yards and just goes down the list. Up to this point, he’s been monitoring the yards and the hives in each yard, taking notes and keeping track of who’s doing well in terms of number of bees as well as honey production. There are other factors to consider as well but that’s the jist of it. Okay, I need to go check on my beekeper. Y’all have a good one!

Big Oaks bee Yard  July 10, 2013

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