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Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Kumquats

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 –

Honeycomb 2016

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.

Ross Rounds beekeeper workshop

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Farmers Market - adapting to extremely cold temps

Today it was in the low 30s when we were at the Pearl Farmers Market. After I checked the weather app when we started setting up for market, I told myself not to look again because I did not want to know it felt like 24 degrees. COLD to us! But we made it work after having a year to freeze at market and now we do things like pack a lot of hot beverages, load up the kerosene heater, keep the honey samplers near the warmth so dispensing is doable, bring rain gear just in case (and two blankets for wrapping around us), etc. Six hours on your feet out at market is tiring even after two years. We love it but it does wear us out sometimes. So we are especially thankful for customers who show up in support of everyone who made it. And we are thankful for fellow vendors who braved the weather with us so the shoppers may have a bit of variety in shopping. Mark continues to lead the market association membership – continues to learn also. He’s getting pretty good researching Robert’s Rules in my opinion. He has such patience with things like that. It does take a lot more of his time than we anticipated but it’s important to both of us and he wants to do the best he can. I’m so proud of him!

Speaking of time, we decided that since we have limited time, we would have to change up what and how we do things. So, out with big nuc sales for others and in with spending that time with our own bees. So far, we are liking this decision a lot. About this time of the year, we’d be heading or making plans to head to Florida to see family and to pick up nucs for our customers. It was stressful and yielded little profit. Mark did it to help other people. What it did to our bees, however, was not worth it this year we decided. Our own hives typically got a big neglected as Mark focused almost all his attention on caring for and growing those nuc hives in anticipation of customer pick-up late March. And you know what? Sometimes a few unpleasant incidents with people are just enough to signal a change is needed. So – take a look at one of our hives so far.

Thriving bees

This was a couple of weeks ago and is typical of how our hives are looking. This is a huge improvement over past years. A strong hive such as this resulted from Mark’s constant checking on them during winter months, especially towards the end of winter now. This is a critical time for the bees because things are starting to bloom out but not yet abundantly what with all the up-and-down weather we’ve had. So, the queens are laying more so that’s more bees and that means more mouths to feed. If we didn’t have to check our hives and they ran out of food at this point of winter, then some bees or hives may not make it and that’d put us back a bit. That is what used to happen when we sold bees to others and we are thrilled to see what we can do with our own girls this year since Mark can devote his focus on them. So exciting!

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Today as I pulled into our drive...

Oh beautiful sky with your beautiful clouds, why not darken a bit and drop some raindrops? Couldn’t hurt to ask. During the hottest weeks/months of summer when the sun beats down on your back when you’re working outside, you welcome clouds even when they don’t always or often yield moisture. Mark will sometimes say to me that he appreciates the clouds when he’s working the bees. Clouds soften the brutal sun rays. I snapped this photo with my phone pointed straight up in front of me. The clouds were gorgeous and held such promise for rain here and there around us. The wind picked up and it cooled down quite a bit but hours later, we still did not receive any rain. Oh well. There’s always a little hope. It’s actually not as dry as it has been in the past for this time of year. It’s August in South Texas. It’s pretty hot now! Three-digit heat has finally arrived but most of us say, “If we can just get through August, then there’s light at the end of the tunnel.” haha The heat makes us appreciate the cold later.

Mark and Tang continue to tend to the hives out in different yards. It’s rare to have some of the hives still making a little bit of honey but we won’t complain. What an odd year it is. So far, we have harvested (or extracted) about 6,000 pounds of honey! Great numbers considering how little we got last year. Every drop is appreciated for sure! For hives that are strong and thriving, Tang and Mark are dividing. We’re going through a steady supply of queen bees ordered from outside of Texas, as always. We have another 28 queens coming this Wednesday. There’s also mite treatments to be completed, empty honey supers to treat for wax moths and then stored for winter, pecan trees to be tended to since there’s a second round of caterpillars…the list goes on. There’s never a dull moment but we try to rest when we can. The pace as well as the heat can truly be tiring.

In other news, we are thankful to be covered in a couple of local publications in the San Antonio area! Our first story is out now in Edible San Antonio magazine. You can find a copy by visiting their webpage. I want to give a big shoutout to our friend, Josh Baker of AzulOx Visuals. Josh photographed us at our Bee Ranch last fall and we were happy to have one of the photos we love so much be used in the article. Josh is an amazing photographer and he’s a lot of fun so please do check out his website if you are looking for photographer who will do more than take the usual posed pictures. Okay, the second article? You’ll have to wait! But you won’t have to wait long because we have seen the copy and the print is coming to the Pearl Farmers Market THIS coming Saturday. So excited and thrilled to have people interested in what we do at the Bee Ranch. Yay bees and beekeeper!

Edible San Antonio August-Sept issue

In happy honey-lover news, I’m excited to be able to share that Mark has updated the GBR website with the latest inventory of our local South Texas honey – the Gonzales County Wildflower. I love how light it is, just gorgeous! It tastes very similar to our Guadalupe County Wildflower. Light in color and light in taste. Check our Honey Shop if you would like to try some of this beautiful honey.

Gonzales County Wildflower Honey (2014 harvest)

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Comb in the uncapping tub

While I do tire of the non-stop 3-digit heat days, I never cease to be fascinated by the beautiful work of the bees. Not just the honey but look at the wax they create, like art to me. I love to visit the shop and see what’s happening out there. I shot the above photo because I just love the different colors of the wax. Some darkened with use, age, light, etc. Still good, all of it. These are bits of the cappings we shave off the tops of honey frames so we can get to the honey. We still do it all by hand with with bread knife. We have a heated knife for this purpose but found the bread knife works just fine in the blistering heat (natural heating πŸ™‚ ). There’s a lot of honey still left on the comb so we just let it drip down into the tub under this for a couple of days and then we’ll run that through our fabric filter to catch debris. It’s amazing how much honey you can harvest from the cappings alone. We never waste a thing if we can help it. The cappings are then stored in buckets until Mark is ready to clean the wax for our beeswax products. We love it and I always tell Mark that even if we never sold another candle, I’m sure our families and I could use up all the candles he makes. We love his work! We can’t wait to show you some of the new things we’re working on for the upcoming holidays. Some new beeswax ornaments for the gift-giving season – you’ll like them I think. Stay tuned.

As I type, I see the clouds have rolled in – yay! Some relief from the scorching sun! It’s been a brutal stretch lately. I believe yesterday Mark told me we’re going on our 13th straight day of 100+ heat. Not unexpected here in Texas this time of year but I think we all still long for fall to hurry on up already. Anyway, whenever there’s a change in the sky, you get excited. lol even if, like yesterday, you don’t get more than 45 drops of rain, the claps of thunder and dark skies make for a welcome change. Sounds like I’m in a bowling alley. Very nice sounds.

Prior to the change just now, we turned on the drip hose for the new hives out back. We’ve been doing this since they got here and the temperatures have been so high. The girls seem to be holding up just fine. The bit of water does a lot to cool them and also provides them with what they need to cool their hives down. They fan water in the hives to create their own cooling system. Pretty awesome, those bees.

Watering divides at the Bee Ranch

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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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ 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! πŸ™‚ 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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Frosty windows

Thank goodness! While we have yet to measure between two and six inches of rain forecasted, we are still very happy to finally get a downpour today at the house as well as in the surrounding area. If we can get a bit more rain here and there, then the bees will be in good shape for honey production in a couple of months. Already! It seems like it was really just last month that we were trying to figure out how to extract all the honey. Time sure does fly by sometimes, doesn’t it. The picture above is my car yesterday morning when I left for work. Lot of moisture in the air lately, which is a nice change from the dryness.

As I type (sipping yummy coffee and looking at the Christmas lights we still have up b/c life is too short not to enjoy Christmas lights for as long as we want), Mark is out in the candle shop still, getting some more pine cones out of the molds. If you follow us on Facebook, the other night I posted a picture of three candles we are trying things on – different wicks, different pouring technique, etc. We’ll let you know how things progress. I don’t have much to report at the moment besides the fact that Mark just brought in more to test so yay for me! It rocks to have your very own candle maker. I personally think the candles are fine but he has very high standards so if he sees just one thing he doesn’t like about it, back into the pot it goes. Or to me if I see it in time. Here’s one of my favorite melting candle patterns. I love the pit that is being created. I also love the smell of the wax. I’ve decided the hollowed out pines make a nice little container so I’m saving them once they burn down to about an inch. Fun, pretty, functional. Good stuff.

Candle pit

In other news, during dinner conversation tonight, Mark casually told me that today Apivar was approved for Texas and that he’s really excited because it looks like it has proven to be very effective for mite treatment overseas, where they’ve been using it for a few years now. I thought this was great news so I wanted to share that with y’all. When we get some in and use it, we’ll be sure to post about it. This product is less messy than Hopguard and is a slow-release so it will hopefully kill the mites more effectively than Hopguard and Apiguard, both of which killed mites that are there already but not mites that come after application. So be on the lookout, fellow beekeepers! If you have mites (and you’re bound to), then you want to stay on top of this product development.

Weather alert: It’s raining hard again and I hear thunder. NICE! Oh, now coming down very hard. Exciting. This is going to be great for the bees! We just looked at the rain gauge again and now it measures about 2 inches. Radar is showing quite a lot of storm movement so hopefully we’ll get more rain overnight.

And in Honey House building news: It’s a long, trying, challenging process that we are sure will be great in the end but for now, please say a prayer for us and all the people we are relying upon to do what they are suppose to do without running us in circles. Seriously. I’d appreciate it. πŸ™‚

And finally, with so much flu and other illnesses floating around out there, I thought I’d share some honey related information. Thanks to my sister-in-law Renee for suggesting this inclusion. πŸ™‚

For allergies (like I’ve been having lately since I’ve been enjoying too much non-Guadalupe Wildflower), do a daily teaspoon of whatever’s local for you. You can do it straight or in your tea, coffee, oatmeal, other cooking.

For sore throats, I mainly do a cup of hot tea with honey and 1/2 a lime or lemon in there. There are tons of variations so you can alter as you wish. This one was always great when Mom made it for us. πŸ™‚ You can also try honey and cinnamon which is a popular combination. Some people take it in tea while others take it in milk. Typically it’s one teaspoon of honey and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I’ve also read a recipe that adds ginger to that so I’m going to try that soon as I like ginger for settling my stomach when it’s out of sorts.

Hope you are all well and whether you are or you aren’t, you should probably still have some local honey daily as it is just an overall great food for overall great health. Sleep well and have a great day tomorrow!

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Fall hours at the Pearl starting Sept. 1

We are all loaded up and packed for the Pearl tomorrow. Just a reminder that we are working 9-1p now that it’s the first market in September. I like to think of it as a kickoff to the fall season. I’m delusional because it’s still in the upper 90s for a while here in South Texas but a girl can hope and dream, right? πŸ™‚ It’s always nice to be able to load up the truck the night before since we leave home around 6:15a. The hour later start tomorrow means another hour of sleep! Yay for sleep!

Weather and moon update: The weatherman just said we hit 99F degrees today. Sizzling. And it’s a blue moon tonight. I love the moon.

Loading up for market

Today was Mark’s last day with the City of SA – the beekeeper is BACK! We have missed him here in Seguin full time so we are super happy. And by we, I mean me, Smokey and our busy bees. We still have that one bee yard left to extract and supers to tend to and hives to split and candles to make and on and on. Welcome home my favorite, favorite beekeeper!

And in case you aren’t on Facebook, here’s a shot of tomorrow’s royalty at market. Can you spot her? We weren’t sure we’d be able to get an observation hive together since we got a surprise shower around 5:00 p.m. today! Totally took us by surprise but it was welcome, for sure.

A queen at Deadman Creek bee yard

And finally, a gorgeous sky and sunset kicked off our holiday weekend together. We hope you have a wonderful break the next few days!

Sunset over the Lazy U Ranch

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