Two black bear cubs climb a tree

Have you heard about Bears Bees + Brews? This grassroots community project was founded when a local resident decided to do something about the heated issue of urban black bears in western North Carolina. This nonprofit project seeks to inspire people and raise awareness about wildlife conservation, in a fun and non-judgemental way. 

We had the opportunity to sit down with the founder, Roni Hidalgo, and learn a little more about the inception of Bears Bees + Brews and the fun events that they have planned. One event – Bear Banter + Brews is planned for this Saturday, June 1st at Upcountry Brewing. Frugal Backpacker will be participating by teaching a Leave No Trace workshop. 

A Movement is Born

Hidalgo moved to Asheville 4 years ago in search of a more peaceful and natural living environment.  She fell in love with the beautiful lush surroundings of WNC and its accessibility to nature and wildlife.  It was not long after moving to Asheville that she witnessed whole forests being leveled to make room for development.  This sparked a sense of urgency to get the community involved to help sustain our incredibly biodiverse surroundings.

“Raising awareness is key,” Hidalgo said.  “But doing it in fun and inspiring ways will help people interpret and digest information more effectively, and want to share it with others.”

Through the sharing of information, Hidalgo hopes her project will cultivate respect and compassion for bears and all wildlife.  Oftentimes, bears show up in our neighborhoods in search of food because their natural habitats are continuously being threatened by urban development and climate change.  Most negative bear encounters are easily prevented with the proper education.

Bears + Bees

The project also advocates for pollinators and habitat conservation as a whole.  

“Bears and bees is a name, but it also represents conservation of the full spectrum of wildlife, from big to small, from bears to bees,” Hidalgo said.  As bears, bees and all wildlife continuously face threats to their natural habitats, they need our support more than ever in order to survive.

By working to save other species, we are also saving ourselves.  This is especially true regarding native pollinators. About 90 percent of our food supply is a result of the work of pollinators, yet harmful pesticides that are contributing to their decline are still being used.   

How You Can Help

Bears Bees + Brews is fiscally sponsored project of Southern Conservation Partners, a nonprofit charitable organization.  Roni is seeking community sponsorships and donations to continue her work to provide free fun and educational conservation events throughout Asheville and WNC.  Visit to donate.

Find out more about how you can help wildlife, pollinators and support wildlife corridors at under “Take Action.”

Upcoming Events

Please come out to UpCountry Brewing Company this Saturday, June 1 for Bear Banter + Brews in celebration of National Black Bear Day.  The festivities start at 5:30 PM. Have fun while learning about wildlife conservation and how we can live harmoniously with urban black bears.  

Check out more upcoming events hosted by Bears Bees + Brews at

  • Bear Banter + Brews, June 1, Upcountry Brewing 5:30-11:00PM – Celebrating National Black Bear Day and conservation through fun live brewery talks from local wildlife biologists and experts.
  • Pollinators: Secret Superheroes, June 27, Asheville Masonic Temple 6PM – Partnering with Center for Honeybee Research, GreenWorks/Bee City USA Asheville, for an intimate, pollinator-dependent celebration dinner experience to raise awareness and honor our native pollinators. Visit: for more information.
  • Bears Bees + Brews Festival, October 19, New Belgium Brewery, 12-5PM A FREE conservation celebration that will bring over a dozen environmental and conservation organizations together to educate, engage, and entertain locals and visitors alike. Participating organizations and discussion topics include:
    • NPCA, Wildlands Network, and Great Smoky Mountain Association – discussing wildlife connectivity and how wildlife migration corridors can save the lives of humans and animals, and how to support them on a local level.
    • Friends of the Smokies – Promoting and protecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
    • NC Wildlife BearWise – discussing how to coexist happily with black bears and wildlife.
    • Center for HoneyBee Research and Bee City USA/Asheville – discussing conservation of bees and what to do to protect our native pollinators.
    • Asheville GreenWorks – discussing best tree practices and the importance of protecting WNC trees and forests.
    • Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy – discussing the importance of protecting the mountains of North Carolina (from the edge of Great Smoky National Park to the Highlands of Roan).
    • Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation – promoting the cultural and historical preservation, natural resources preservation, and educational outreach for Blue Ridge Parkway for future generations.

Submitted by Rosa Linda Fallon