Category: Success Stories
In addition to creating high-quality natural products, they are passionate about the health of the local bee population, aware of the positive impact they can make on bees and the ecosystem that depends on them. “We are working to repopulate bees that have disappeared from our area. Varroa mites, colony collapse disorder and small hive beetles are three of the adversaries that imperil bee hives today, and that have taken a serious toll on our world’s bee population. With 30% of our diet dependent on pollination, the problem is troubling. We are taking steps to remedy this situation locally by strategically placing our bee yards where they can pollinate farms and native plants throughout the region. Unlike large migratory bee companies, our hives stay put throughout the year so that they can pollinate the crops and flowers that bloom in each season. The way we see it, our bees are adding beauty, color and abundance to the world around them.”
As owners of Gretchen Bee Ranch, Thien and Mark see themselves as part of the growing small farm ecosystem in Seguin. They also appreciate the opportunity to raise awareness and teach others about the importance of beekeeping, along with giving them to the tools to do so. “We want people to know that they can come here to learn about being a good beekeeper. We don’t want to just sell bee gear, we want to continue growing good beekeepers because we need help replenishing the honeybees in our area. To support that goal, we continue to expand our educational opportunities. We have half-day classes as well as a series of free one-hour workshops and have had people travel from as far as California and Pennsylvania to attend. The future is exciting, and we plan to grow educational opportunities for as long as we can are able to do so.”
We asked Thien what inspired them to start the company. “Mark began his beeventures with his uncle in Burnet County back in 1982 and has loved keeping bees since that time. After a long and successful 20-year career as a librarian and then in other capacities for Texas municipalities (including Seguin and San Antonio), he decided he wanted to pursue other interests including historical research of Smokey Joe Williams (our local Baseball Hall of Famer, 1999) and operating an apiary as a business. After working as a librarian and then as a technology trainer, while also helping Mark, I joined Gretchen Bee Ranch full-time. Next year, our Bee Ranch turns 10 years old!”
During their ten years in operation, the ranch has continued to grow, offering more educational opportunities, and serving clients from the region and across the country. This has created an opportunity for Gretchen Bee Ranch to impact the local economy. As visitors head to the ranch, they are directed to local restaurants, shops and tourist activities in Seguin and the Guadalupe Valley.
Thien and Mark appreciate the support of customers and beekeepers who have traveled to Gretchen Bee Ranch, along with the continued support of the local community. They encourage people to buy local and to patron businesses, like theirs, that are making a difference in the community through their products and services. “We want y’all to come visit. If you have, we look forward to seeing you again soon. If you haven’t, we hope you will swing by here soon on a morning we are open, so you can see what we have to offer. We love the peacefulness of our little Bee Ranch. We are close enough to drive to different cities, but we love coming home to the quiet of Seguin.”
DeWitt and Gonzales Counties, both located in the GVEC service area, are among the top five oil producing counties of the Eagle Ford Shale. Major producers with established operations in the area include Enterprise Products, EOG Resources, and Kinder Morgan among others.
Shiner, TX: it’s the self-proclaimed “Cleanest Little City in Texas” known for its robust brewing abilities! Located in the Guadalupe Valley roughly between San Antonio and Houston, Shiner is home to about 2,100 people and the Spoetzel Brewery where they ship more than 6 million cases of custom-labeled Shiner beer across the country each year!
Take a Spring drive in Cuero, Yorktown, Yoakum and all the little towns in between and experience why the Texas Legislature passed HR 769 on May 4, 1999 designating DeWitt County as the Wildflower Capital of Texas. The area becomes “an ocean of color” as the wildflowers begin to bloom and visitors come far and wide for this naturally beautiful Texas landscape.
Gonzales Healthcare Systems has set the gold standard as the first rural hospital in Texas, and only the second in the nation, to feature a state-of-the-art 3-D mammography machine in its Jane Johnson Women’s Imaging Center. The service attracts patients from Gonzales and surrounding counties, as well as close metropolitan cities such as Austin, seeking the benefits of this top notch technology.
ZDT Amusement Park in Seguin debuted the Switchback roller coaster in October 2015. Premiered as the world’s only wooden shuttle rollercoaster, this ride is a highlight of the 10-acre indoor and outdoor park working to attract thousands of thrill-seeking visitors each year to the Guadalupe Valley.
Texas Lutheran University, located in Seguin, TX, has been ranked for multiple consecutive years as a Top Ten Baccalaureate School by Washington Monthly magazine. The school offers diverse disciplines including the Arts, Business, Communications, Humanities and Health, Natural, and Social Sciences.
Gonzales, TX is home to the infamous and historically significant “Come and Take It” cannon and flag. On October 2, 1835, the little cannon fired the first artillery shot for Texas Independence which led to the annexation of more land to the United States than all the shots fired during the American Revolution.
Some of the largest players in the shell egg, broiler and breeding industries are located in the Guadalupe Valley including Holmes Foods, Inc., Tyson Foods, Inc. and Cal-maine Foods, Inc. Millions of dollars in assets flow through these major operations day and night which include large hatcheries, feed mills, and processing plants dependent upon reliable electricity.
Shiner, Texas is probably best known for the Spoetzl Brewery, Texas’s oldest independent brewery and home to world famous Shiner Bock Beer. Shiner also has a reputation as Texas’s “cleanest little city” and is known for its charm and character, along with its rich heritage. In October 2018, GVEC helped put Shiner “on the map” yet again by launching Fiber Internet, powered by the world’s fastest internet technology. With speeds of up to 1 Gbps, Fiber opens a whole new window onto the world for this hamlet of 2,069.
Gonzales County, located on the eastern side of GVEC’s service territory, is currently ranked as the 11th largest calf and cattle producing county in the nation. Just one example of the quality operations continually growing here is Graham Cattle Company located in Gonzales, TX. Graham boasts the capacity to handle 45,000 head of cattle.
With the world’s largest pecan being located in Seguin, TX, it’s not too nutty to believe that Seguin also claims its very own Texas Vanilla Seguin Pecan flavor of Creamy Creations Ice Cream produced by major Texas grocer H.E.B. The grocer has opened several new locations in the Guadalupe Valley in recent years.
Adams Extract made the Red Velvet Cake a household name across America in the 1920’s when it first served consumers its red dye for this infamous recipe. In the 1950’s, they had another first introducing the 4-pack of food coloring. After 125 years, this major manufacturer operates out of a 90,000 square foot facility in Gonzales, TX and continues to serve up sweet and spicy goodness to families under over 13 brand names.
In July 2017, GVEC broke ground on the SunHub Generation Station, the Co-op’s first ever generation asset and community solar project. The two-megawatt facility, located on Highway 90A between Seguin and Gonzales, was one of only seven distribution-scale solar projects underway as of that time in Texas. The facility will deliver more than 4 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy thanks to its 6,500 solar panels powered by the South Texas sunshine.