Honey Bees, and Why They’re Essential

Bees are a common insect. Many people are allergic, and many more are simply afraid of bees. However, bees play a vital role in our ecosystem. Unfortunately, there are in danger because of loss of habitat and pesticide use.

At Sweetbriar Rose, we have been beekeeping for years. We currently have six individual honey bee hives. Bees are incredibly fascinating creatures, and we sincerely believe everyone should take steps to save them.

However, if you don’t know much about bees in general, or honey bees specifically, you won’t understand the urgency in trying to save them. Here is some excellent information on these useful creatures, and why honey bees need to be protected.

All About Honey Bees

Honey bees are well-known, but only make up a small percentage of bee species. They are the only group of bees in the Apis genus. They produce and store honey, which is liquefied sugar. They also build nests or hives with wax that is secreted from worker bees. 

Honey bees are 15 mm long. Typically, their bodies are oval-shaped and banded with varying shades of gold, brown, and black. The banded colors are intended to help the bee survive by warning off predators.

Honey bees’ bodies are segmented with a stinger, legs, antenna, three segments of thorax, and six segments of the abdomen. On the head, there are eyes, antennae, and a mandible, or jaw. The thorax areas are for the wings, legs, and control of movement. Finally, the abdomen includes the reproductive organs and stinger.

If a bee is in the wild, the hive will typically be built in a hole of a tree or on rock crevices. In captivity, a beekeeper will provide boxes with removable frames for the bees to build on. Worker bees excrete wax from a special gland. A worker bee will excrete the wax, chew on it to soften it, then mold the wax into cells.

A hive is built to store food, which is honey, and for protection during cold months. Honey bees do not hibernate like most other bee species. Honey bees will huddle in their hive for warmth and eat stored food. If you have ever wondered why do bees make honey, it is their food.

In the Colony

Honey bees are social, and colonies can grow quite large. Each colony has three different types of bees. There is a single queen, male drones, and infertile female workers. While there is only one queen that can lay eggs, there can be thousands of workers and drones.

The queen honey bee will mate with the male drones. The queen will lay the eggs in the cells of wax in the nest. A single queen can lay as many as 2,000 eggs a day. After the eggs hatch, adult workers take care of the larvae by feeding them pollen and honey for three weeks. The matured bee will chew out of the sealed wax cell.

A male bee, or drone, only exists to mate with the queen honey bees. A drone will die soon after the mating process. Drones are the minority in the colony.

Female worker bees are infertile but are still responsible for many essential jobs in the hive. Younger worker bees tend to the larvae. As they mature, worker bees will begin to store food collected by foraging worker bees. The strongest adult worker bees forage for food and bring it back to the hive.

In the World

Honey bees are found the world over. Because they are so widespread, it is hard to attribute typical behavior to them all. Many people wonder, do honey bees sting? The answer is typically no. Most species of honey bees are considered docile. Africanized honey bees are aggressive and are known to chase humans. However, any honey bee, when thoroughly provoked, can attack and sting a human.

It is most common to see honey bees in the late spring and summer when a new queen will leave a colony with thousands of workers to build a new hive. Also, because honey bees rely on pollen and nectar, late spring is the best time to collect their food.

Pollination

Honey bees have been around for millions of years. For their entire existence, bees have pollinated flowers, so flowers depend on bees for survival. Bees help plants reproduce by transferring pollen, which is the sperm cells of plants, from plant to plant. Pollination is required for the survival of the plant.

Humans reap the benefit of this pollination. Honey bees pollinate many, if not most, of the plants we eat daily. Outside of transferring pollen from one plant to another, bees collect nectar from each plant. Upon returning to their hive, bees make honey from this nectar.

Honey Bee Dance

If you have ever paid attention to honey bees, they often appear to be dancing. These movements serve a purpose; it is how worker bees communicate with each other. The honey bee dance is essential to the survival of each colony.

After a honey bee finds a new food source, she will tell the other worker bees where to find it through specific movements in this dance. A honey bee will either do a round dance or a waggle dance.

The round dance is a circular dance and tells the other worker bees the new food source is within 50 meters of the hive. The waggle dance looks more like a figure eight and reveals the location of the source is farther away. The duration of the dance gives the exact distance.

The dance also informs other worker bees of the direction of the food source by referencing the sun’s position. A worker bee will rotate her body to tell the others which direction they should go from the hive in relation to the sun.

These intricate and fascinating dances are vital to the survival of a colony. There is much we still don’t know about honey bees, though. If you see bees, you should never attempt to interact with them. If there is a nest near your home, call a professional to help. Never kill bees.

At Sweetbriar Rose

At Sweetbriar Rose, we are trying to do our part in ensuring the survival of honey bees, and our way of life for that matter. Without honey bees, we would not have much of the food we love.

Because there are bees on site, you might see a honey bee flying around. Don’t panic. If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone, as well. These are friendly bees. They are busy making the honey you get to enjoy.

Stop by Sweetbriar Rose so you can enjoy something made with our local honey, or just sit on the back porch and keep a lookout for some honey bees yourself. We hope to see you soon.

Tips for Baking Like a Pro

Have you ever been perusing recipes and found one that sounded fantastic but didn’t attempt it because it seemed a little too complicated? Or that it might be above your pay grade, so to say? If you have, you are not alone.

Some recipes seem extremely complicated. If you haven’t been to culinary school, you might shy away from certain things. Stop! You don’t have to! We have some fantastic #bakingtips so you can tackle any project in the kitchen and come out victorious on the other side.

Of course, we would love for you to swing by Sweetbriar Rose and try and of the fantastic things our incredible chef cooks up. She was an executive pastry chef in New York City and comes up with some of the most delicious treats around.

So, without further ado, check out our no-fail, must-have, guaranteed-success baking tips now!

Moist Cakes

This first tidbit is good advice for baking anything, but particularly cakes. Read through the entire recipe before starting anything. Measure out your ingredients beforehand, so you ensure you have everything and all the ingredients are added to the batter. While this makes a few extra dishes and takes a little more time, you won’t regret it in the end.

If you love baking cakes but find your finished products end up dry or crumbly, there is a simple solution. Check out Amazon for a special soaker bottle that has several nozzles (picture a showerhead). Poke several holes in your cake with a toothpick or other small object first. Then, fill the said bottle with simple syrup and spray down your cake.

The moist and delicious cake in every bite will leave all your guests thinking you spent a ton of money on a professional cake!

Perfect Cookies

Cookies are a favorite dessert for many. Not only are they relatively easy, but they are also delicious, and you usually have all the ingredients on hand. However, if you aren’t letting your dough rest overnight in the fridge, you are missing out.

In professional terms, this is called “resting the dough,” and it makes a world of difference. A dough that has sat in the fridge overnight will have more flavor, a better texture, and a more defined shape.

If you are rolling out cookies, don’t feel like you have to stick to flour to keep the dough from sticking. Depending on your cookie, you could use flour, powdered sugar, or cocoa powder. Remember, what you use could affect the flavor. Using unsweetened cocoa powder when working with chocolate dough is an industry secret few know about.

Must-Have Tools

If you don’t own a bench scraper, you are missing out. These handy tools are useful for a variety of kitchen tasks, including cutting dough, scraping and smoothing out cakes, and cleaning up your workspace.

Another thing every kitchen should have is a food scale. For the best results in baking, measure your ingredients by weight, not volume. You might be surprised by the difference in your cookies and cakes.

If you love a beautiful cake but lack the skills to decorate one yourself, do yourself a favor and order these Russian piping tips. They make decorating a cake or cupcake simple while looking intricate and expensive.

One problem many bakers don’t realize they have is an inaccurate temperature reading on their oven. You might type in 350℉, but the temperature is 320℉. This differentiation can cause significant issues with baking. Invest in an oven thermometer to ensure your food is baking at the temperature you set.

This tip is not a recommendation for a specific tool, but rather ensuring you use the proper tools. Follow the instructions for the pan size and type, according to your recipe. If you use a smaller pan than the recommended one, your cake or bread could overflow.

Furthermore, consider what type of pan you are using. If you are using a glass pan, or a dark nonstick pan, you most likely need to lower your temperature by about 25℉. If you are a serious baker, your pans will take a beating. It is ok, even necessary, to invest in new ones when the old ones start chipping or warping.

Technique is Everything

When you are making cakes, you might pour the batter into your pan and throw it in the oven; this would be a mistake. To properly prepare your pan, rub the bottom and edges with butter, then apply a thin layer of flour (for vanilla cake) or unsweetened cocoa powder (for chocolate cake) to the entire pan. This coating will make for easy removal after baking.

While we are talking about removing things from pans, do not rush to get the cake or bread out of the pan. Allow the baked good to cool completely before removing. With bread, you will want to let it sit for at least an hour, because the inside of the bread is still cooking.

When you are pouring your batter into the pan, take an extra moment to tap the edges of the pan a couple of times. This movement should remove unwanted air bubbles. Spinning the pan a few times will push the batter towards the sides of the pan which will keep the cake from forming such a large dome in the middle.

One of the most important things to remember when baking, from muffins to cakes to cookies, is you do NOT want to overwork or overmix your batter. Generally, your recipe will say “mix until combined,” and that is all you want to do. The end product will be more breadlike and less cake-like because the gluten is too activated.

Don’t be afraid to use your hands. Many people are scared to get their hands sticky or dirty, but oftentimes, this is the best way to mix things. When using your hands, you get a good feel for the dough. The more time you spend baking, the more confident you will get with how the dough should feel, depending on what you’re making.

Simple Tricks

Memorizing recipes is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. There are some basic equations you can learn to help you remember how to make things. For example, remember 3-2-1 for pie dough. You will need three parts flour, two parts butter, and one part water. Check out this excellent resource for some helpful shortcuts using ratios.

Visit Sweetbriar Rose

At Sweetbriar Rose, we spend a lot of time baking, and we mean A LOT. Thankfully we love it. Because we spend so much time baking and cooking, we want to share some of the things we have learned.

We would love to see you in our store if you are in the Fredericksburg, TX area. Stop by Thursday through Sunday and try one of our delicious pastries or from-scratch sandwiches, or just enjoy a refreshing glass of beer or wine on our patio. We hope to see you soon!

Texas Hill Country Road Trip

Have you ever taken a road trip through the Texas Hill Country? The drive is incredible. The views are spectacular. And the stops are worth the driving in between.

If you have never taken a day trip through the Hill Country, now is a great time! In fact, any time is a great time. We have some tips and ideas to make your road trip a trip to remember.

Things to Take In

There are so many things to do in the Texas Hill Country, it would be impossible to fit everything in on a day trip, or even a weekend. Doing some research ahead of time will ensure you get to the things you most want to do.

The time of year will dictate if you want more indoor or outdoor activities. If it is December through early March, or June through mid-September, you will want to be inside more than outside. However, the fall and spring months are mild and perfect for exploring outdoors.

There is nothing like the spring in the Hill Country. Imagine wildflowers along all the roads and fields of color. It is not uncommon to see families piling out of their cars to get that yearly Bluebonnet picture. 

The Fall is fantastic because the weather has finally cooled off, and it is an excellent time for hiking or attending any of the festivals and events that occur throughout the Hill Country. Even if you’re in the colder winter months with more rain or the hot summer months, the Texas Hill Country offers delicious food and drinks to keep you cool and entertained inside.

Outdoor Activities

If you enjoy being active, Enchanted Rock is a must-do on any list. Enchanted Rock is just outside of Llano. The views are unbeatable while you climb the 425-foot pink granite rock, one of the largest like it you will find in America. The view from the top is awe-inspiring as you take in all the Hill Country has to offer. You can camp, picnic, stargaze, or hike on 11 miles of trail, also.

Garner State Park is another excellent outdoor adventure. Garner State Park is a favorite in the Hill Country and the entire state. You can hike or camp, as well as swim or tube the Frio River in this 1,774 acres of beautiful Hill Country. In the summer, check out the summer dances, a tradition since the 1940s.

Another great spot close to Fredericksburg is the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site. This beautiful park offers history, as well as an area for a picnic, fishing, swimming, or viewing the local wildlife, like buffalo, longhorn, and deer. The stop is also educational as you can visit a living history farm and see what life was like in 1918. Don’t miss the wildflowers in spring, or the Visitor Center full of President Johnson history and memorabilia. There are also historical cabins, built by settlers in the 1860s and 1870s. 

You’ve heard the song, so why not put Luckenbach, Texas on your list. Take a trip to a simpler time, enjoy good music and dancing, or pick up something fun at the General Store. Bring some friends and enjoy an afternoon or evening where everybody’s somebody…

Indoor Activities

If you are looking to get inside, check out the National Museum of the Pacific War. Named for Fredericksburg’s own Admiral Chester Nimitz, you can spend an entire day learning the storied history of our battles in the Pacific during World War II. Learn about Pearl Harbor, Japanese culture at the time, and meet some of the heroes who fought so bravely for our great country.

The Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg is another fabulous indoor activity. The mission of the museum is to preserve and tell the story of the Texas Hill Country. The museum sits on three acres, and you will learn about the history of the German settlers to the area. See historical homesteads, a one-room schoolhouse, a Sunday house, a bathhouse, a barn, a smokehouse, and a fire department.

Of course, there are many wineries along the drive. Check out Wine Road 290 for a list of great wineries to visit. You can also get more information for events happening throughout the year that you will want to check out.

While there are many restaurants around the area, we would love you to stop in and visit us at Sweetbriar Rose. We are open Thursday through Sunday. We serve wine and beer flights, or wine and beer by the glass or bottle. 

Get a made-from-scratch sandwich or pastry all day, or a handmade coffee. Our pastry chef trained in New York City, you won’t want to miss the delectable things she cooks up. We also offer cheese plates, bread by the loaf, soups, and salads, and other tasty snacks.

We have a large building perfect for large groups, or for hanging out with friends. You will find a ton of unique items for yourself or as a gift. Stop by and let the friendliest staff in town ensure you have a great visit. Add Sweetbriar Rose to your Texas Hill Country road trip.

Make Reservations

If you want to take advantage of the Hill Country, several companies can help. Schedule a tour with one of them to ensure you safely get to all the places you want to visit.

Texas Winos offer Texas hospitality and mix in some fun. Each event is like a mini-vacation. The guides are fun and personable and ensure a unique trip each time. There are themed events, and you are encouraged to go all in and make the most out of the day. Check them out and see when their next event is!

With 290 Wine Shuttle, you pay once and get transportation all day. Hop on and off throughout the day at wineries. Spend as much time at each place as you want, then get on the next bus that comes through. For just $29.99 you get access all day to the shuttle. You can also book a private shuttle for larger groups.

There are two routes, the Eastern and Western routes. Pick the wineries you want to see most and book that route. Sweetbriar Rose is on the Western Route so you can grab lunch and a beer between checking out the fantastic local wine!

Vine and Wine Adventures offers a different approach. Their guides will choose specific wineries for each group based on where you will get the best experience, rather than visiting them all. Feel free to make suggestions to the driver. Wherever you visit, you can be assured to taste some great wine and have fun along the way. You can also schedule a private tour to ensure you get to the wineries you want most.

Whatever you choose to do on your trip to the Texas Hill Country, we hope you take some time to visit us at Sweetbriar Rose. For a little more about us, check out our website, or read this blog about what we do. We would love to meet you, and serve you some delicious food and drinks. We love all things Texas, especially the Hill Country.

Welcome to Sweetbriar Rose!

We are happy you are here! Whether this is your first time checking us out, or you are one of your regulars who visit us at the store all the time, we are excited you have taken time out of your day to read about us!

This will be your resource for all things Sweetbriar Rose, and all the things we offer and do. Whether you are looking for a relaxing afternoon drinking your favorite wine and eating a fantastic pastry, or you are enjoying a sandwich and beer with friends, or you are looking for cute gifts to give to a long time friend, you have found the right place! 

With this blog, we want to interact with you in your daily life. We will talk about wine, beer, baking, decorating, holidays, family, friends, and everything in between. You will get to meet our staff and get to know them more, get tips for baking the perfect loaf of bread, learn more about wine and beer, and get helpful hints for decorating and preparing for holidays, as well as any other life events.

So what can you expect to find at Sweetbriar Rose? What will you see in this blog? Check below for more information.

Wine and Beer

One of the first things you will notice when you walk in our doors just off 290 between Fredericksburg and Stonewall is that we love wine and beer! We offer wine and beer flights from a seasonally rotating menu. You will have the option of choosing three wines or beers from our list, or you can purchase both by the glass. We also have a wide variety of wine by the bottle, and beer by the bottle and can. You will find something to your liking when you check us out.

Sandwich and Pastries

Our pastry chef takes great pride in her bread and pastries, and you will hear rave reviews from those who have eaten with us. All of our baked goods are made from scratch in-house. Our pastry chef, Kim, has spent years working in Texas and New York City perfecting her skills, and we get to reap the benefit. She carefully crafts sandwiches that go perfectly with our in house beer and wine, and your mouth will be watering when you see the selection of baked goods to choose from.

Coffee

Our state of the art espresso machines serves us incredibly drinks. We use high-quality coffee from a local distributor. You can get a hot cup of coffee, a smooth latte, a refreshing cold brew coffee, or our sun-brewed iced tea. We also have a variety of canned beverages to choose from.

Special Events

Whether you are looking to host a brunch, or you are looking for a perfect place for a bridal luncheon or wedding party, or you need to host a company party, or you want to celebrate a birthday, we are here for you! We can accommodate large parties during business hours, or we can schedule a private event before or after we are open. We will work with you to meet your needs.

Unique Finds and Shopping

Our store is full of fun and unique finds to fill your house and gift to friends. Whether you are looking for useful wine accessories, or creative and educational kids activities, or handy kitchen gadgets, we have quite the selection. We offer handmade soaps and scrubs, as well as lip balms and skin creams. We offer coffee to purchase by the bags and mugs to drink it from. We have hilarious and thoughtful towels and signs for your kitchen and home. We also offer quality furniture at great prices. You have to check us out to see all we offer.

Home Decorating Ideas

On this blog, we will be offering ideas on how to incorporate what we offer into your home, as well as fun tips for decorating throughout the year. You will find ideas for storage, as well as gift ideas, as well. We want to make your life easier! 

Holiday Inspiration

If there is one thing we love at Sweetbriar Rose (besides wine and beer!), it is the holidays! Whether we are coming up on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, Valentines Day, Fourth of July, or anything in between, we have fun ideas for you. Check with us and be inspired for the upcoming holiday. We will even give you ways to incorporate our wines and beers into your celebrating!

As you can see, we have no shortage of ideas to share with you. We have a fantastic staff in house ready to meet you, and we will be offering great ideas for your daily life. We hope you follow along with us as we explore new ideas and fun events coming your way.