Mosquito Populations Have Grown Since Hurricane Harvey
This week, state and county officials decided to expand aerial spraying to control mosquitoes in the Houston area. In some areas, large mosquito populations are hindering recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey. Although spraying from trucks has occurred throughout the summer, the Air Force Reserve has been spraying for the past week in Aransas, Bee, Nueces, Refugio, and San Patricio counties. Tonight, that effort expands to Brazoria, Harris, Montgomery, and Liberty counties.
How Does Aerial Mosquito Spraying Work?
As planes fly over the area to be treated, insecticide is atomized into tiny droplets that are dispersed in the air. As the droplets fall to the ground they will kill any mosquitoes they make contact with. According to the Department of State Health Services, only 1-2 tablespoons of insecticide per acre is sprayed and the chemical quickly breaks down in water or sunlight.
The press release from the Texas Department of State Health Services specifically mentions how this spray could affect honey bee colonies.
Spraying is also done to minimize any effects on beneficial insects like bees. Applications will be done starting around dusk when mosquitoes are most active and after bees have returned to their hives for the night. The insecticides dissipate and break down quickly in the environment, and when bees emerge in daylight, they are not affected. Although this type of application will not cause a significant exposure for bees, beekeepers may choose to cover their colonies and prevent bees from exiting during treatment.
We regularly have mosquito trucks pass within 50 yards of our hives with no ill effects because the trucks spray at night when our bees are in the hive and are not active. We expect the same result from the aerial spraying.
We do not recommend covering or closing your hives.
August in Texas is still hot. At the time that I’m writing this, the temperature is still 80 degrees at 10 p.m. If you cover or close your hives, you risk harming your hives through suffocation of overheating more than exposure to insecticides. We can’t predict how the spraying will affect everyone’s individual hives, but we hope that your bees continue to survive the nighttime spraying. The planes spray at night when mosquitoes are active and bees are in their hives, so we are not covering or closing any of our hives and expect that the contact insecticide will not make contact with any or many of our bees.
The main feedback that we’ve received on our classes is to publish a more forward-looking schedule and to simplify our beginner beekeeping schedule. This week, we looked at our calendar and scheduled classes through March 2018, until we begin another beekeeping season. We have 3 class offerings at this time. We developed our Introduction to Beekeeping class for people who aren’t yet beekeepers, but are thinking about it. Our Beginner Hive Management class shows new beekeepers how we manage our hives through the swarm season, harvest season, then closing down for winter. Our Queen Rearing for Backyard Beekeepers class is a two-day class to show how we set up our cell-builder hives and get some experience with grafting larvae into cell cups. We will add some other classes as we grow, but these 3 offerings will be continued in 2018.
Supporting Harvey Relief
Last week, we harvested more honey from our hives at the Tomball Community Garden. Those hives not only pollinate the crops that are donated to TEAM, but we donate 20% of our honey sales from those hives to TEAM. TEAM has been doing great things to help people recover from the storm.
This week, we’re donating 10% of our market sales to assist local farmers and farmer’s market vendors who were affected by the storm. We will donate this money to the Tomball Farmer’s Market for distribution.
We also continue to assist homeowners with honey bee removal. Hurricane Harvey displaced many colonies of managed and feral bees in our area. If you see a colony of bees suddenly appear in your yard or house, let us know. We’ll either trap or remove the colony, or if you need established colonies removed from the walls of your home, we can refer you to beekeepers who do that.
Where are we this week?
Our store will be open Saturday 8 am – 4 pm and Sunday 10 am – 3 pm. The Tomball Farmer’s Market will re-open this weekend and the weather should be great, so come see us at the corner of Cherry St. and Main St. from 9 am – 1 pm. We will also have our booth in Cypress at The Farmer’s Market at Bridgeland this Sunday, 12:30 – 3:30 pm.
This Saturday, September 9th, we will host an Introduction to Beekeeping Class at our store in Tomball. This class is geared toward aspiring beekeepers who do not yet have bees. We’ll put you in a bee suit, talk about bees and their hives, look though our classroom hive, and try to answer any questions you may have. The class runs lasts 1-1.5 hours and costs $40. We only schedule 6 openings per class, so everyone gets some attention, and we still have slots available at this time.
Next Saturday, September 16th, we will host our next Beginner Hive Management Class. In this class, we’ll conduct a hive inspection on one of the hives at the shop and cover seasonally relevant material and what you should be doing in your hives. This week, we’ll discuss harvesting your summer honey and getting ready for the upcoming goldenrod flow. Our hive management class is $20 and lasts about an hour. You must bring your own protective gear for our hive management class.
Beekeeping plans for the next few weeks.
Last year, we harvested 10-15% of our honey crop in September and October. We haven’t seen the goldenrod flow begin yet, but all of this recent rain will probably generate a large fall nectar flow. Be sure that you have drawn supers on your hives to capitalize on the flow when it begins. If you haven’t harvested your summer honey, do it now and return those empty combs to the hive to give your hives plenty of room for dark, fall goldenrod nectar. This week, we harvested amber summer honey from our hives in Tomball, so see if you have any!
This week, we offered a new curated varietal honey. We’ve found that most people either love or hate Buckwheat honey. Buckwheat honey is dark, thick, and fragrant. As a native of South Louisiana, Buckwheat honey reminds me of Steen’s syrup. If you’re one of those who love dark honey, come try a sample of our Buckwheat honey.
We also announced the BZ Honey Store and Market Gift Card this week. These cards will make great gifts for honey fans and future beekeepers. Since we use the same point of sale system at our store and our market booth, you can use our gift cards anywhere you shop with us.
How can we help you?
This past week, we were asked to schedule our classes more frequently and I hope today’s updates satisfy that request. If there’s any information that you’d like to see in our updates or via our classes, please let us know in the comments or directly at our store or market booth.
I hope everyone in the Houston area is recovering from the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey this past week. We feel extremely lucky and blessed that we were able to stay dry, both at home in Cypress and at our shop in Tomball. Since the storm developed very quickly in the Gulf of Mexico, we weren’t able to relocate any hives from areas that had historically flooded. Three of our out-yards at The Arbor Gate, Verdant Tree Farm, and the Tomball Community Garden were especially on our minds, since they were either in low-lying areas or close to creeks and reservoirs.
Knowing that this past Saturday would be a torrential downpour, we cancelled our Introduction to Beekeeping Class. The Tomball Farmer’s Market was cancelled and we closed our shop in anticipation of the storm. As the rain moved away from the Houston area and water began to recede, I was able to lay eyes on most of our hives. Unbelievably, all of our hives are still there. Once the ground dries enough, I’ll fully inspect to see if any took on water at the bottom and take any necessary measures to help those colonies rebound.
We already support Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries through our hives at the Tomball Community Garden. Those hives not only pollinate the crops that are donated to TEAM, but we’ve pledged to donate 10% of our honey sales from those hives to TEAM. As the recovery efforts began, we quickly saw the good work that TEAM was doing to help victims of Harvey. Last week, we doubled our pledge and dropped off a check to TEAM so they can put that money to work for local recovery.
Where are we this week?
We responded to a swarm call yesterday. Many hives were displaced by Harvey, so if you need some boxes and feeders for the late swarms we may find this week, we will open our store Saturday and Sunday. We also heard that the Tomball Farmer’s Market cancelled another week, so if you need some honey, we also have that at our store in Tomball. The Jersey Village Farmer’s Market will be held this Sunday at the Jersey Village City Hall, from 12 pm to 3 pm, so come see us.
Next Saturday, September 9th, we will host an Introduction to Beekeeping Class at our store in Tomball. This class is geared toward aspiring beekeepers who do not yet have bees. We’ll put you in a bee suit, talk about bees and their hives, look though our classroom hive, and try to answer any questions you may have. The class runs lasts 1-1.5 hours and costs $40. We only schedule 6 openings per class, so everyone gets some attention, and we still have slots available at this time.
Beekeeping plans for the next few weeks.
Last year, we harvested 10-15% of our honey crop in September and October. We haven’t seen the goldenrod flow begin yet, but all of this recent rain will probably generate a large fall nectar flow. Be sure that you have drawn supers on your hives to capitalize on the flow when it begins. If you haven’t harvested your summer honey, do it now and return those empty combs to the hive to give your hives plenty of room for dark, fall goldenrod nectar.
We pride ourselves on our local honey. Our honey this spring was light and floral and our summer honey was a beautiful amber color with incredible flavor, even when it differed between our many yards. When we bottle our local honey, we put a red cap on the squeeze bottle and put the location on the label, so you know just how local our honey is.
As a store owner that sells honey and beekeeping supplies, we don’t want to limit our honey inventory to just our local honey. After many requests for specific varietals, we have begun stocking incredible varietal honey from other respected beekeepers across the country. Sure, our honey is great, but sometimes you may want the citrus twang found only in pure Orange Blossom Honey. If you want some honey for a BBQ sauce, without the robust flavor of our smoked honey, try some Mesquite Honey. These are our two newest varietals that you can try and buy in our Tomball store and purchase here, from our web store.
We’ll add more varietals as we continue to vet suppliers to ensure all the honey we sell is pure, raw honey.
How can we help you?
This past week, we were asked to put more information on our website for those that aren’t on social media. This post and future, more frequent posts, are a response to that request. If there’s any information that you’d like to see in these updates or via our classes, please let us know in the comments or directly at our store or market booth.
We now have a store for beekeepers and honey lovers.
If you don’t follow us on social media, you may have missed the big news that we’ve opened a physical store at 405 E Main Street in Tomball. After 5 years of trying to meet the local demand for local honey, we realized that we need to think bigger than just ourselves to solve this problem. In 2016, as beekeepers we sold over 2000 pounds of raw, chemical-free honey from Cypress, Houston, Katy, and Tomball, but our customers continued to ask for more. Rather than continue to grow our apiaries and try to meet this demand, we’ve decided to take a leadership role in the local honey market. We want to enable more property owners and gardeners to begin beekeeping as a hobby and business.
At our new store in Tomball, we sell our honey, but we also now supply beekeepers with the hives, tools, protective gear, and even the bees necessary to succeed at beekeeping. This spring, we sold starter kits and nucleus bee hives to new beekeepers. We will soon begin classes at the shop to show new beekeepers how to inspect and manage their hives, how to raise quality queens, how to brew beer and mead with honey, and how to prepare their hives for winter. If you want to get in a hive with us, to see if this is the hobby for you, sign up for our Introduction to Beekeeping class.
Most importantly, we want our new store to be the hub for local honey in our community. We have a new 18-frame extraction line where we’ll extract honey from backyard beekeepers, bottle it, and even buy it to sell in our store. Our goal is to enable enough hives in the area, so local honey customers can buy truly local honey year-round. We hope to see you soon at the shop, at one of our classes, or at the market!
I saw this redbud tree in full bloom yesterday as we were walking through Old Town Tomball. The redbud and the dandelion are sure signs of Spring here in Texas, so it’s clear that our beekeeping winter vacation is over. We were so busy in 2016 that we haven’t had a chance to publish updates to our blog or update our website for the year.
To recap 2016, we set a goal to harvest a ton (yes, 2000) pounds of honey, and we exceeded that goal. With our increased production of honey came an increased presence at the local farmer’s markets and a chance to meet more customers. Every single interaction with one of our customers reinforced the thought that we’re providing an important service to our community through our beekeeping and our honey.
For 2017, we want to take a leadership role for beekeeping in NW Houston. We plan to increase our honey production again, we’re helping to fight HB 1293, which is a poor attempt to update the Texas agriculture code, and we want to help more backyard beekeepers successfully harvest honey.
We are thrilled to announce more news soon, so please stay tuned!
Many of our customers tell us we have the best honey they’ve ever tasted. Many of you may like our honey from trying a sample at a farmer’s market or from interacting with us during a swarm relocation. You may not know how special our honey truly is. We believe that our honey is not only the best tasting, but that we put more attention and care into the production of our honey than any other honey producer in Texas.
As we approach the first significant harvest of the 2016 honey season, we want to share the reasons why our honey is special. Each day, we’ll add a reason why our honey is special, until we’re ready to sell honey at a farmer’s market or at one of our partner sites.
Day 1: Our honey is special because we are beekeepers.
Believe it or not, some folks selling honey don’t actually have bees. They buy buckets or drums full of honey from a commodity distributor and fill bottles. They can’t tell you how old that honey is, where it came from, whether it has been chemically treated, or whether it truly is pure honey. At BZ Honey, we take care of our bees so they’ll provide us with the honey we bottle and sell to you. We check each hive every week to ensure its health, control swarms, and to maximize colony growth. It’s a simple model, but by working with our bees, we can tell you anything you need to know about our honey.
We started as backyard beekeepers and kept increasing our hive count because we love what we do. This is our special calling, to provide pure, local honey to the NW Harris County communities.
Day 2: We manage our own hives.
We continue to grow, but we’re still able to personally manage all our hives. We inspect each hive every 7-10 days during the swarm season to ensure our colonies have room to grow to keep them from swarming. We also ensure that each hive has a healthy queen to lay eggs and determine when we can harvest honey. Sure, the protective gear gets hot, we take an occasional sting, and the boxes get heavy, but this is how we ensure the health and check the status of each of our colonies. One day, we may have enough hives that we need to hire additional beekeepers, but today every bee is cared for by a member of the BZ family.
Day 3: Our bees spend the entire year in NW Harris County.
We may deliver an occasional hive to a customer for backyard pollination, but our bees are truly stationary hives. We don’t truck our bees across the country for almond pollination or across the state chasing nectar flows. We put our hives into one of our managed yards and we let them create honey from the nectar produced in a 3 mile radius of that yard. We think this keeps our bees healthy and allows us to deliver truly local honey to our customers. You can actually see and taste the difference in the honey produced by our hives in Spring, Summer, and Fall. We don’t know of any other beekeepers in our area who celebrate the uniqueness of their honey as much as we do. If you still have some dark, Fall honey left over from last year, feel free to finish it off. We have some sweet, light, Spring honey coming to market soon!
Day 4: We don’t put any chemicals in our hives.
Apivar, Apistan, Thymol, MAQS, Oxalic Acid, Fumigilin. This is a list of some of the chemicals that beekeepers put in their hives to control pests. Since beeswax and honey both readily absorb compounds from their environment, we just don’t understand how beekeepers can harvest and sell honey from hives laden with these chemicals. “Here you go ma’am, nature’s original sweetener with a small dose of Apistan.” No, thank you. Our honey is special because we are part of the minority of beekeepers who refuse to use chemicals to treat our hives. Before we even received our first colony, we made a decision to keep our bees and our honey chemical-free. We use sound hive management practices and a focused queen rearing program to allow our bees to manage pests on their own. Every one of this year’s production hives survived winter without treatments and is thriving and healthy, producing surplus honey we’ll bring to market soon.
Day 5: We relocate wild swarms to our managed yards.
We love being able to catch a swarm of bees before they decide to make their home in the eaves or wall of someone’s house. In addition to providing a good service in our community, we put these swarms in our managed yards and use their desire to build comb to grow a new colony. Since swarms are typically led by the old queen from a successful hive, adding these swarms to our yards provides a new genetic line of bees that have survived the fall mite onslaught and winter. We use these colonies to provide drones for open mating with our queens and will breed queens from exceptional colonies. Our honey is special because we encourage a diverse genetic mix of colonies in each of our yards to counter threats from pests.
Day 6: We partner with bee-friendly businesses to host our hives.
To ensure our bees are positioned to maximize nectar forage from certain areas and to provide “neighborhood” honey to local customers, we partner with bee-friendly businesses in NW Harris County. Plants for All Seasons and The Arbor Gate, two of the Houston area’s premier nursery and garden centers, serve as a reminder that homeowners can have beautiful gardens without resorting to harsh pesticides. We maintain approximately 20 hives at each location. These bee thrive off the many varieties of flowering plants at the nurseries and the forage surrounding these locations. Last year, we expanded this model and have positioned hives at Jane and John Dough Bakery, Verdant Tree Farm on Barker-Cypress, and at the Tomball Community Garden at Tomball United Methodist Church. Without the cooperation of these bee-friendly sites, we would be unable provide such a wide variety of honey.
Day 7: We celebrate the diversity of our honey harvests.
Most commercial beekeepers blend the harvests from multiple yards and multiple seasons to produce a honey that is a consistent color and flavor. We think consistent color and flavor destroys what makes our local honey special. When we harvest honey from a particular yard, we extract and bottle that honey separately from any other harvests. We specify the yard of origin on each bottle of honey we fill. If you buy honey that’s labeled “Tomball, TX”, then that bottle only contains honey made from the nectar in a 3 mile radius around our bee yard in Tomball. It may look and taste different than the honey from our Cypress yard or our partner yards. It may also look and taste different than honey from our Tomball yard harvested on a different date. Typically, our Spring honey is our lightest color and flavor, with the color getting darker and the taste more robust as the year progresses to Fall. Each variation is useful and tasty in its own way, so don’t be afraid to have several bottles in your pantry.
Day 8: Our honey is fresh.
We extract honey from our hives as soon as the bees cap the honey cells on the frames. You can see the changes in color during the year as different flowers begin blooming. In late May or early June, we begin our season with honey produced from clover and tallow flowers, producing a very light, sweet honey. Over the course of the summer and into early fall, the seasonal flowers will produce honey with a darker color and more robust flavor until we harvest the dark goldenrod honey in late fall. We often tell you something like, “this honey was still in the hive last Wednesday”, but if we don’t, feel free to ask us. We’ll know and we’ll tell you. That makes our honey special.
Day 9: We sell pure, raw honey.
We don’t mess with our honey! We don’t add anything to it. Our bees have done a great job with their recipe, so we don’t need to alter it in any way. We also don’t ever heat our honey. Raw honey has very delicate floral aromas and enzymes which heat destroys. We take our honey from the hives and bottle it, just the way it is.
As we look back on 2015, we’re very happy and honored at what happened this year. We have grown in our knowledge of bees, our product offerings, our number of hives, and in the number of great customers and friends that we’ve made this year. The greatest honor has been our community recognizing our efforts in chemical-free beekeeping, which led to our nomination as a finalist in the Farmer’s Market Vendor category of edible Houston’s Local Hero 2015 survey. Please take a minute to vote for us and help us spread the word about our leadership in the local food movement. Here, we’ll try to summarize our year in review.
The year 2015 began with a very tough Winter for bees. January and February were unusually warm, causing our bees to begin preparations for Spring early. As the populations in our hives grew and some colonies began producing drones for Spring mating, reality set in and we had a hard freeze in March. Some of our hives had created populations that outgrew their stores, so we began with fewer hives than 2014. Also, while the nectar-rich Chinese Tallow Trees were blooming, the Houston area was drenched in rain for 3 weeks, so we did not get the typical Spring harvest to which we’re accustomed. Honey is a seasonal product and bees depend on a variety of factors to produce a surplus of honey to harvest.
We quickly rebounded from that setback. In mid-March, we received our first phone call of the year about a swarm of bees and promptly hived and relocated them. We captured swarms that were looking for homes, swarms that recently settled into a new home, and established colonies in structures. Over the course of the year, we relocated 25 feral colonies into our managed yards. We have created a portfolio of those swarms that you can access via this link.
Our queen rearing program matured this year, providing us with a steady source of healthy, productive queens. When one of our relocated swarms needed a new gentle queen, we had one. When a queen died unexpectedly, we were able to replace her instead of letting the colony raise a substandard emergency replacement. When we needed to split a colony to stop it from swarming, we had a new queen ready to go. Our ability to have queens in reserve enabled us to grow exponentially this year.
We expanded the area where our bees forage by creating new partner yards this year. After our success at Plants for All Seasons in 2014, we created new yards in 2015 at The Arbor Gate, Jane and John Dough Bakery, Verdant Tree Farm, and the Tomball Community Garden. We led two Bee Forums with Angela Chandler at the The Arbor Gate and were guests on Green Thumb Gardening on 700 AM KSEV. We also taught a mini bee class for kids at Jane and John Dough Bakery on Earth Day!
Based on our honey production, we supported 15 market days in 2015, up from 4 in 2014. We now sell our local honey at the Tomball Farmer’s Market and The Farmer’s Market at Bridgeland and can honestly say we have bees close enough to fly to those markets. We also began selling honey through our partners at The Arbor Gate and Plants For All Seasons. We were thrilled at the responses from our customers and partners. We thoroughly enjoyed explaining why honey harvests change color throughout the year and taste different based on locale and loved giving someone their first taste of truly local honey!
We increased our product offerings this year. To minimize any waste from our honey operations, we began rendering our capping wax in a solar melter and produced pure beeswax candles. We also began offering our honey in stick form. To support local backyard gardeners, we provide pollination services in the NW Houston area and offer classes and services to local beekeepers.
We look forward to another great year in 2016 and hope to see you soon!
We truly appreciate what you’ve done for this hive over the past 3 years. You laid your weight in eggs every few hours and over the course of your reign, you easily laid over one million eggs. You have been the backbone of the BZ Honey breeding program and most of the queens came from your eggs or mated with your drones.
Your hive produced over 500 pounds of honey in just 3 years and you are the reason your beekeepers decided to make this more than just a hobby.
The workers had a meeting and we decided that your reign needs to end. You appear healthy and you’re still laying like a champ, but the workers know things the beekeepers don’t, so we’re already raising your replacement. Barbara II will emerge from her cocoon within the next week and assume the role of the queen.
Your beekeepers have decided to put you in a smaller “retirement hive”, to determine if you’re still viable. That’s a lot nicer than the plan we’ve used for thousands of years, but we wish you well.
* March 2017 – Due to the growth of our business, we can no longer provide these services.
Consulting Services for Beekeepers and Gardeners
BZ Honey now provides consulting services to new beekeepers and gardeners who want to attract more pollinators to their gardens. Our first two services, Preparing For Bees Assistance and Bee Friendly Gardening are available with appointments scheduling now. We plan to add future services in the future to keep pace with customer demand.
What if I want to get some bees next year…
That’s the focus of our Preparing For Bees Assistance service. We’ll show you everything you’ll need to know prior to receiving your bees in the Spring. We’ll evaluate your property to show you the best location for your hives, show you the protective gear and tool you’ll need, and show you the hive components you’ll need on hand when you get your bees. In the Spring, we’ll add more services for new beekeepers to help them with their new hives.
I don’t see as many bees and butterflies as I used to…
That’s the focus of our Bee Friendly Gardening service. If you’re not interested in keeping bees, but like to watch them or wish you had more in your garden, we can help you, too. We’ll visit your garden, evaluate your current plantings and show you where to add plants that attract more pollinators. We’ll help you select varieties that work well in our climate, plus provide nectar from Spring to Fall. This service also includes a $25 gift certificate for plants from The Arbor Gate.
If you’d like to see more services from us, please let us know!
* March 2017 – Due to the growth of our business, we can no longer remove established hives.
Honey Bee Removal Gives Bees a Chance
We’ve recently heard some confusion on whether we are a honey bee removal company or just a company that sells honey on the internet. We didn’t realize it when we selected our business name, but some folks think we just sell honey. To clear the air, we are beekeepers. We cover all aspects of beekeeping. During the Spring swarm season, we respond to calls about swarms that are clustered while looking for a new home. Throughout the year, we’ll remove and relocate other colonies that established a nest in an unwanted area, such as a cable box or the eaves of a house. So far this year, we have relocated 18 honey bee colonies to our managed bee yards, most from word of mouth referrals.
You’ve probably heard about the importance of preserving honey bees. One third of our diet is a direct result of a honey bee pollinating a flower, whether it’s the cucumbers in your salad or the beef that fed off grass pollinated by bees. Rather than spraying a colony or letting a cluster move along on it’s own, we relocate the colonies so they can continue to play their role in our food chain.
We don’t charge for swarm clusters
We know most homeowners didn’t want bees to settle in their yard, so we are here to help. Our hope is to catch most of the local swarms while they are still searching for a new home. We were surprised to hear that some local companies have been charging people to remove swarm clusters. A swarm of bees that is clustered in a bush or tree is looking for a new home and will probably leave soon, but their new home will most likely be inside the wall of a house, an overturned bucket, or a utility box. We want to give those bees a chance to thrive in a managed yard, while keeping them from moving in to the wrong location. The next time you see a cluster of bees looking for a home, don’t spray them, call us. We will provide them with a new home of their own.
Flat rate pricing for hives with established comb
If a swarm finds a suitable cavity, they will quickly move in and begin building combs. Once the hive has built combs and is rearing young bees, removing the bees also requires removing all the comb. We cut the combs to fit into frames, vacuum the bees into a box, merge the bees with their comb, and move them to one of our managed yards. Most removals take 4-5 hours, but before we begin any work, we’ll tell you how much we’ll charge ($150-450 depending on complexity of the removal and location). If you have a honey bee colony in an unwanted area, please contact us so we can relocate them for you.
* We are registered with the Texas Apiary Inspection Service and have a permit to allow honey bee transportation between counties.