The Bee-utification of Moab
Pollinators are key to a healthy local ecosystem Written by Jenna Talbott / Photos by Murice D. Miller
honda Gotway Clyde is glowing in the early morning rays of the summer sun as she shows her fellow beekeeper, Jerry Shue, around her two acres of land in Spanish Valley. Shue has been here many times before, but this morning the “plant person” and the “bee man” are marveling at the variety of pollinators buzzing around this scrupulously plotted desert oasis. They wander among tall berms, colorful trees, shrubs, and intriguingly titled forbs: Paper Flower; Primrose; Penstemons; Russian Sage; Mormon Tea. Clyde removes her gardening gloves, stashes them in her tool belt, and leads on through the “pollinator hedgerows” bordering her fields. “Look at that big guy,” she says, pointing to a massive fern bush — a native shrub that Clyde believes everyone should plant. “There’s probably ten different species pollinating this right now,” says Shue, leaning close and peering through his spectacles. Shue has heard the buzz: fruit trees and gardens around town have increased their production over the last couple years. Maybe the honeybees have been busy! Clyde and Shue first met in 2009, at the Youth Garden Project. Shue, the
Grand County Honey Bee Inspector, was leading a workshop on beekeeping. Soon thereafter, beekeeping in Moab began to flourish. “We put in a bulk order for everyone interested, and had a big assembly party of equipment,” says Shue. “We were like a busy beehive.” Since then, the number of local beekeepers has jumped from a total of three to more than 40. The network is endeavoring to raise a stronger stock of localized honeybees — ones that are well-adapted to this region.
Opposite page, top left: Rhonda Gotway-Clyde prepares her bee smoker before inspecting her two beehives. Beekeepers gently puff a small amount of smoke into the hive while working with bees, to mask any alarm pheromones the bees may release. Opposite page, bottom left: Honey being sold at the Moab Farmer’s Market. Opposite page, bottom right: Grand County Honey Bee Inspector Jerry Shue, and Rhonda Gotway-Clyde, owner of Easy Bee Farm, share a laugh while watching honeybees, native bees and flies visit her fern bush plant in June.
MOAB AREA REAL ESTATE MAGAZINE – July 2017