It's hip to BEE-keeping 3

Sandy Holcomb shares her beekeeping
 legacy with newcomers

Growing up, Sandy Holcomb never dreamed that she would one day be a parks ranger working to foster Colorado’s native bee population. Holcomb works as a park ranger for Highlands Ranch Metro District and remembers “chasing swarms” when she first started—she and other rangers were in charge of handling swarming bees. (Swarming is a defensive mechanism,Holcomb explains, that is merely a way for bees to start new colonies.)

The petite Highlands Ranch resident got her start in beekeeping by following in her dad’s footsteps (he took up the hobby in the 1980’s). When she started beekeeping with her father,Holcomb’s work mostly consisted of delivering bees to people who wanted them for a variety of reasons. At the beginning,Holcomb says, “we had more bees than we knew what to do with, so my dad had so start buying hives because he couldn’t make them fast enough.”  When she started on her own in 2004, Holcomb envisioned beekeeping as a quiet hobby that would simply fill her spare time.

ButHolcomb’s commitment to everything she puts her mind to led her to found the Highland Beekeeping Club and to start a nature camp with the park rangers. Before she knew it, a part-time position as receptionist at Metro District turned into a full-time position as a park ranger—mastering beekeeping and becoming a native plant master along the way.

“Most people want to be more environmentally friendly,” says Holcomb. “I think people want to dabble a little bit, whether it be wildlife or farming, and beekeeping is a good way to stick your toe in.” Doing what she calls “Bee PR,” Holcomb works to lessen the stigma of fear surrounding bees.

“Everyone wants to be green and not be scared of bees,” says Holcomb, “But they understandably are.”

Holcomb gets to work with the Scouts , helping them earn their bug badges by completing projects like building a native bee home and placing it on their land. Holcomb also applies her expertise by helping local schools build their gardens and to better understand their pollinators.