Gretchen Bee Ranch is Attracting Bees and Tourists to Seguin
Located in Seguin, Gretchen Bee Ranch is the only full-service beekeeper showroom in South Texas. Owners Mark and Thien are committed to providing fresh, healthy products from their beehives and from the hives of other beekeepers that they know and trust. “People can be assured that when they buy our honey, and other bee crafted products, they will know exactly where our products come from. All our products are presented to customers as purely as they come out of the hive. Nothing added, nothing taken away.”
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.”