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Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers’

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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Introductions 7 & bee box

What does that title mean, you ask? Well…this is a title that has been bestowed upon our little piece of paradise by a student after Cupid tagged her and a fellow student! So sweet! I loved that phrase and asked if I could share it with you all. We love meeting people – we have made so many wonderful new friends the past year as we launched our classes. And now we can say that our students also love meeting each other! 🙂 We wish our lovebirds the very best and we hope to get an update on how things go for them.

It’s a busy month for us. We’ve got every Saturday booked – which is a blessing but sometimes it does get us tired. 🙂 We had another wonderful class yesterday with fourteen students and since we are in the midst of hive growth and honey production, each class yields something new for students. When the opportunity presents itself, students have gotten to dip into the honey on a frame, lift supers filling up with honey to see how weighty it can be, find and squish a hive beetle (thank goodness those are not a problem this season so that’s only happened once). Lots of fun and I’m never sure what new thing I’ll photograph the students doing. The bees were flying great even though we were all in the way but no one got stung and that’s always a wonderful thing. I think we were in the hive for a good thirty minutes and the bees were as great as you could ask of them.

To see the full set of photos from class, check out the Flickr album I just finished loading.

Next weekend we have our advance topic class – How to Build Your Hives Up in the Spring. It’s our second time teaching it and we still have seats so if you’d like more information on it or to sign up, just drop us a line at info@gretchenbeeranch.com or you can call 830-305-7925. We would love to see you! I made a flyer for the class and it’s on Flickr if you’d like to see it.

It’s another busy week – my brother and his family are visiting from California so we’re thrilled they’ll be checking out the bees and our operation while they are here. Since Mark has daily checks to do at bee yards, they will have their pick of opportunities to see the beautiful Texas landscape currently still in bloom. We’ve also got another visit out to the Marriott to check bees and to also work on the honey display in the restaurant. We have some good ideas to make it an interesting experience for their customers and we’re excited about the opportunity.

Here is a shot of the wonderful Deadman Creek when we went to check on the bees there. This bee yard is on the Lazy U Ranch, which is a wonderful organic ranch – we are so glad to be there! They are making delicious honey out there and Mark will return there tomorrow to put another super on one of the strongest hives we have there. Hope you all enjoy your week!

Lazy U Ranch in spring 2012

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Lazy U Ranch - Deadman Creek

There’s no better way to end the day in my opinion than to have Mark drive up and say, “I have to go to one more yard to check the bees. You wanna go with me?” YES. 🙂 Especially this year with all the green everywhere and now the splashes of color all over the countryside. It is amazingly gorgeous and never ceases to take my breath away when I see it. I can’t even fully capture the essence of the beauty we are currently enjoying here in the Seguin area. The above shot is what we saw as we drove to the Lazy U Ranch just off Highway 725, about 10 minutes from our house. This ranch is a certified organic ranch (really!) and the owner has been working to bring back the native grasses to his property. I’d say he’s doing a great job. What’s amazing to me is that this area is predominantly yellow and orange flowers while the areas closer to the hives feature blue and purple flowers predominantly…of course there’s lots of mixing of flowers and colors everywhere. Here’s a look at another area on the ranch.

Bluebonnets at Deadman Creek

While I wandered around snapping pictures and enjoying my time outside (yes, no allergy restrictions this year thanks to the honey), Mark checked on the hives and added more supers. Yes, they are making honey and going to town with it. They were flying well and doing well. Mark says it’s one of his best yards. Looks like he got them through the drought and then winter just fine. I sure like the looks of those growing hives. We didn’t get to see much of this growth last year as the honey season was so brief. I can’t wait to see how high these boxes might get and how many harvests there might be. Who knows…might we have another two harvest season like we did in 2010? You never know!

Hives looking good at Deadman

Here we are cruising on out of the bee yard…you can’t help but smile when you have so much beauty around you and perfect weather for enjoying nature. What a blessed life we have. By the way, I have a great guy – he never knows when I’ll holler out, “Smile!” He smiles. I snap. And here we are. 🙂 Thanks sweetie.

Cruising with the honey bee

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