Downtown Market column: Colorado Mountain Honey is in the bee business
It often amazes me how much effort and work goes into throwing our four-hour market. That is it, four hours once a week, that is what we get. It does not sound like much, but it is four hours of what feels like a whole separate and special world, an escape from routine, a chance to submerge in the friendly and smiling citizens, and visitors, of Glenwood. For example, our vendors put in the effort every week as they anticipate how much of their product they will need, and they have to carefully package, load, set up, sell, and pack it all back up before heading to the next market. It is a carefully planned system, and all vendors have their own unique systems. It is so incredible and wonderful to me that so many of us see so much value in our little four-hour corner of Glenwood, and it really makes our market feel special.
One of many of our delightful vendors is Colorado Mountain Honey, which is run by the amazing husband and wife duo Derrick and Melissa Maness. Derrick started working with bees about 24 years ago and has always had a strong passion for the bees and their well-being. He goes above and beyond to take care of these very important creatures, and they sell amazing honey from hives ranging from Aspen to De Beque. And while they have had a less than ideal year — including losing 20 hives to the Lake Christine Fire, losing other hives to bears, struggles with varroa mites, and in general the bees not producing a lot of honey because of our extremely dry and hot summer — Melissa thinks that their bees are doing pretty well healthwise and credits this to how much her husband really cares for the bees. She would know, because Melissa met Derrick 12 years ago and right away jumped in to helping him with his honey business. She started by helping to change the name and create the graphic now used today.
Melissa has also recently added to the business this year by displaying some of her own and very creative artwork all completed on recycled parts of hives. The bee hives are made of wood and need to be painted about every year or so and sometimes the wood gets too warped to continue to be used in the hive. Melissa explained that the hives have to be properly sealed to protect the bees. So one day it hit her, rather than burn these old pieces of hives she could repurpose them by using her artistic side to create artwork and at the same time have a new way to share their passion for bees with you. A major piece of the art is not solely her artwork but that you are taking a piece of their bees’ history into your home. Some of these hives are upwards of 50 years old and have a lot of history, and paint layers on them which she tries her best to keep intact by just gently sanding over, although some are in too rough a shape and require a whole new coat of paint. Her artwork is full of affirmations, quotes and of course, bees. It is, in my opinion, a very accurate expression of who Melissa is, one of the most positive, encouraging and creative people that I have gotten the pleasure of knowing in our little four-hour corner of the world.
So stop by our market today in Centennial Park from 4-8 p.m. and say a special hello to Melissa and her son Elliot at their booth. Check out her new artwork, learn how you can help the bees, and pick up some of their amazing honey. While you are here grab a chair and enjoy the sounds of Aspen 440, perhaps while you munch on some fresh produce or hot food from Greek to tamales to pizza. Don’t forget we continue to double up WIC Farm Bucks, and EBT to $20. We look forward to seeing you there.