Bee Friendly Carbondale promotes insect so crucial to plants wild and domesticated |

Bee Friendly Carbondale promotes insect so crucial to plants wild and domesticated

Hannah-Hunt Moeller, co-founder of Bee Friendly Carbondale and Jane Hendricks, resident of Satank, neighbor of Dina Bowers and founding member of the Bee group, at their inaugural event at Dandelion Day 2023.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

Apologies to Shakespeare, but Carbondale has answered the question of whether it’s nobler to be or … to bee.

That’s better than a B if grading, considering that about a third of food we eat comes thanks to honeybees, which translates to one in every three bites of food, according to many experts.

In any case, it’s hard to get through town without some reference to the world’s greatest pollinator, thanks in part to a group of residents who volunteer on the Carbondale Environmental Board, which advises the Town Board.

The advisers decided there was more to be done to help promote the bee, along with sustainable gardens and landscapes. 

“We started meeting in fall of 2022. There are five of us, all women, who all work in landscape and ecology and had some expertise in sustainable environments,” said Hannah-Hunt Moeller, co-founder of Bee Friendly Carbondale.

“How can we re-imagine public spaces and how they are managed?” she asked. “We need to be promoting drought tolerance, native and regionally-adaptive plants that support the bees. In general, we want to ‘bee’ friendly with full-coverage, four-season plants with beauty, blooms, and purpose.”

For the good of the hive 

Bee Friendly’s mission is to increase Carbondale’s biodiversity, drought tolerance, and beauty through native and regionally-adapted plants.

The organization is inspired by wildlife conservation and aims to identify, replace, and manage the transformation of nonessential irrigated turf into resilient, pollinator-friendly landscapes. Bee Friendly encourages the public to tend to landscapes wisely to restore habitat for native plants and buzzing bees. 

The group also offers residential education and resources and help for those in managed homeowners associations.

“These are not new ideas,” said Dina Bowers, co-founder of Bee Friendly Carbondale. 

“There is this sense of doom and gloom about our future,” she said. “This is certainly one thing that could generate a positive change. We are in a partnership with the community, we are on the same team, and we are excited to move the conversation forward.”

The gardens alongside the bridge in Sopris Park are being turned into demonstration gardens for the public by Bee Friendly Carbondale. Co-founders Hannah-Hunt Moeller (left) and Dina Bowers with the youngest bee enthusiast, Ada.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

“The future of the West is a water-wise future, and we want to be here as a resource when this turf is converted,” Moeller said.

The group works with the Parks and Recreation Department, town arborist, and maintenance staff to improve public landscape standards for beautiful, sustainable, and functional gardens, she said. 

“Last year, Colorado passed HB22-1151 to ramp up funding for low-water landscapes,” she said. “Through the Colorado Water Conservation Board, there is a statewide funding available to municipalities and non-profits to launch local programs. Bee Friendly will be working with the town of Carbondale to develop this local program, likely with funding available to Carbondale residents in 2024.”

Bee Friendly celebrates bees’ contribution to the food web and aims to educate communities about bee corridors with native plants, functional turf, and connections between private yards. 

“It’s also about water conservation,” Bowers said. “Native plants and bees are a catalyst to discuss other things such as the Earth, the soil, all parts of our ecology. The bigger picture is climate change and what’s happening most immediately around us. Public places is a great place to start.”

Bee Friendly currently is rebuilding the gardens around the bridge in Sopris Park to serve as demonstration gardens with native plants.

“We are hoping to create a gathering space and a showcase of ways plants can replenish our atmosphere and fauna around us,” she said.

Their long-term goal is to have Carbondale be a certified wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation, which would signify the town has ample landscapes that provide food, shelter, water, and space for wildlife. 

And, now that Dandelion Day is over, don’t be so quick to get rid of the brilliant yellow blooms. When you spray pesticide on the dandelion — especially in early spring when bees don’t have too many other choices for pollination — the bee can become infected and die. Let it go. 

There are resources for native pollinator planting. “Request native pollinator plants from your local nursery, or order online through High Country Gardens or Prairie Moon nursery. Order and grow your own seed from Western Native Seed or Alplains Seed,” said Bowers. 

Email for more information.

Pollinating more than flowers

Lulubelle, a retail shop in Carbondale, pays much homage to the honeybee. From owner Amy Charters’ brand logo, a honeybee, on trendy Hi Love travel bags, to Band-Aids, lip balm, and cocktail accessories, her store is abuzz with pollinator love. 

It’s all about bees at Lulubell in Carbondale.
Courtesy Lulubelle

“Lulubelle’s Bee is a tribute to one of my favorite people ever, my late Auntie Bea. I love bees. They are hardworking, whimsical, and magical creatures,” said Charters.

“I think bees instill happiness in most people, and whenever we have products that incorporate a bee logo, or saying or have some connection to a bee, people like it,” she said. “#beeyoutiful has been our hashtag since 2016, and we believe in just that.” 

It’s a sparkling honeycomb at Pollinator Chocolate in Carbondale.
Julie Bielenberg / Aspen Times

Marble Distillery has honeybees for their concoctions at a nearby church, and Pollinator Chocolate on Highway 133 honors the honeybee with a hot chocolate, wine, and coffee bar loaded with honey-themed items. 

Dandelions are good for bees, as well, by extension Dandelion Day, whose theme this year was bees. The whole intent of starting the event was to stop spraying dandelions as if weeds and thereby kill the bees so vital to plants and the food they provide.

It’s not just noble to be a bee.