Aspen open space attracting buzz from beekeepers | AspenTimes.com

Aspen open space attracting buzz from beekeepers

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen Honeybee Guild is eyeing public open space on the edge of town for beehives that could be used for both education and the production of honey by area residents interested in keeping their own bees.

Representatives of the group appeared before the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails board of trustees Thursday, but the land they have in mind – the Marolt Open Space – is actually a city-owned property.

Board members suggested that the beekeeping enthusiasts talk to the Aspen Open Space Board about Marolt and that they meet with county staffers to discuss what county-owned open space parcels might be suitable for their endeavors.

“We’re looking for something that’s off the beaten path but accessible to the community,” said guild co-founder Lee Liebmann.

Marolt is ideal because it’s close to the Aspen schools campus, meeting the group’s educational goals, and it’s not an area frequented by tourists, who may not relish an encounter with bees. The property also has water and shade – both necessary for an apiary, or bee yard, she said.

“I’m excited to see you guys here,” said Dale Will, open space and trails director. The county’s open space program is trying to be “more agile” in facilitating local food production, he said.

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The apiary would require an electric fence to ward off bears, plus a perimeter fence. The total cost of the venture is estimated at $950 to $1,250, including hives, bees, a beekeeper’s protective suit and other expenses, according to the guild. The group would like to have the funding in place by the end of the year so it could build the apiary next spring, if it can secure a location.

No commercial production of honey is envisioned, according to Liebmann. Rather, interested beekeepers would pay annual membership dues in order to have a spot within the apiary and honey for their personal consumption.

The guild currently has 10 members, two of whom keep bees on their own property. Liebmann has her own hives in Woody Creek but said many area residents can’t keep bees even if they want to do so. Residential areas aren’t necessarily suitable for beekeeping and subdivisions generally won’t allow it anyway, she noted.

Marolt, a triangle of land bordered by Highway 82, Castle Creek Road and Castle Creek, also is home to Aspen’s community garden – a place where area residents who don’t live in a place that would accommodate a garden can grow vegetables and flowers in their own plots.

Participating via a teleconference call, open space board member Howie Mallory, also a member of the city open space board, said he’d be open to discussing the use of Marolt for an apiary.

“The city’s had the community garden available. I think this has similarities to that,” he said.

janet@aspentimes.com