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The taste of honey can be influenced by the flora and fauna around its hives.

FEATURES

Catching a Buzz

By Hanna Northcutt

Photos by Craig Turpin

07.09.18

Local raw honey is taking flight in the Aspen valley.

The Roaring Fork Valley is home to thousands of tiny pollinators, each contributing to the natural ecosystem and local food cycle during the summer. Enter the honey bee. Allergy sufferers swear by local raw honey as an antidote to symptoms—the honey contains trace amounts of the pollen that gives people grief—but the science behind the wives’ tale has yet to be proven. That doesn’t make it taste any less sweet.

Wild Bear Bee Farm has more than 60 hives at seven locations from Aspen to Emma, but these tens of thousands of bees are picky about their neighborhood. The honey produced in Snowmass Village tastes different than the honey from Emma, thanks to varying flora and fauna.

Outside of Carbondale, Sustainable Settings is located on a 244-acre ranch in the Crystal River Valley underneath Mount Sopris. Sustainable Settings is a biodynamic ranch that appreciates the presence of its buzzing residents. Co-founder and Executive Director Brook LeVan says that their bees are like an organ, functioning as a part of the larger body that is Sustainable Settings. The ranch has nine working hives, with one set planted in the vegetable garden and the other near pasture land. The bees pollinate produce on the ranch—“We are humble hosts to them here and hold their well-being above any products we might enjoy from them,” says LeVan—and the property is used for a broader mission to educate the public about regenerative agriculture and whole-systems land stewardship. 

When looking for a honey fix, local options abound. In Aspen, Meat & Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop, Roxy’s Market, Emporium and Flying Circus and JÜS Aspen all offer a variety of local raw honey. In Snowmass, Grain Fine Food and Snowmass General Store & Deli continue the collection, as well as Spa of the Rockies in Glenwood Springs. Sustainable Settings also has a limited selection, so get it before it buzzes off the shelves.