Beaver Run puts ‘the bee’ in sustainability |

Beaver Run puts ‘the bee’ in sustainability

The Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center in Breckenridge is abuzz with 80,000 new workers coming on board last week, though none are allowed inside the resort’s walls.

Rather, the hum of activity is relegated to four boxes on the resort’s rooftop, where Beaver Run had four colonies of honeybees installed by Don Strudinski, owner of the Honeybee Keep company.

Each colony houses a queen and about 20,000 bees, Studinski said, as he explained that many people mistakenly call the colonies “hives,” but that’s not the correct terminology.

The beekeeper has colonies across Colorado — from Aurora to Edwards and Fort Collins to Denver — but the ones he brought to Breckenridge are the only rooftop bees he’s currently managing.

The bees won’t get a free ride in Breckenridge, either, as they’re expected to produce a number of bee-related products, including honey, be it for guests to buy, the executive chef to cook with or inclusion in some of the resort’s signature cocktails.

Studinski said each colony requires 100-120 pounds of honey to get through the winter, and any production beyond that can be harvested. Asking officials at Beaver Run, though, the bees aren’t just good workers; they’re good for business, too.

“In a lot of urban areas, it’s a pretty common practice for hotels and restaurants to do urban farming,” said Jon Papineau, Beaver Run’s director of food and beverage, as he described a bigger trend in the hospitality industry.

“Aside from the fact that it’s a good business practice, it’s good PR for the restaurant or the hotel. It brings people together and gets them talking, and it gets people unified on things like sustainability,” he continued.

The bees are also going to make honeycomb, which Papineau believes would make a nice garnish on some of the resort’s dishes or could find its way into some of the resort’s desserts, all of which dovetails with Beaver Run taking a renewed look at its sustainability programs.

“It’s a symbol of our effort,” Papineau, adding that these products will be something tangible guests can take home that is unique to Beaver Run.

It’s no secret bees help keep up the food chain by pollinating a wide variety of plant species. As some of the populations of pollinators across the globe decline, however, many people fear the world’s rapidly loosing a key piece of the ecosystem, especially with the bees.

“I would correct that,” Studinski said. “It’s not a fear; it’s a fact.”

How important are pollinators? The staff at Keystone Science School, a local nature-based nonprofit, say they directly account for one-third of food that people eat, and three-fourths of all flowering plants on Earth depend on these insects and animals for reproduction.

But it doesn’t sound like the bees will be the final piece of Beaver Run’s push to institute sustainable business practices.

“We already have it in the works to do a rooftop herb garden, too” Papineau said, adding that they’re going to start small but want to ultimately grow enough herbs to fully support Beaver Run’s kitchen operations.

Clearly, Papineau and other officials at the resort don’t think four colonies of bees, a rooftop garden or other efforts are going to make a giant impact on their own, but they’re not going to shy away from their part.

“I think it’s incumbent upon all of us, no matter what our belief system is, to take care of where we live,” Papineau said. “Being a good steward of Earth is the right thing to do, and if everybody did their one small part, pretty soon it’s a really, really big part for everybody.”

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