The U.S. coal industry is no longer a thriving one and has led to thousands of miners becoming unemployed. A nonprofit, the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective, hopes to introduce the beekeeping industry to West Virginia where the coal industry was once was king.
The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective began with the funds awarded in a lawsuit settlement against Alpha Natural Resources, a coal mining company that breached water pollution legislation.
The charity has used the money to improve the region’s environmental status and create economic opportunities for the rural population.
The participants receive free or low-cost bees along with equipment after graduating from the Introduction to Beekeeping class.
They are then able to choose 2 to 20 beehives to manage. Appalachian Beekeeping Collective gathers the honey, packages it, and sells it for the trained beekeepers who get $7 per pound. One can earn roughly $700/hive on average.
The loss of the coal mining industry has influenced other local industries, according to Cindy Bee, a master beekeeper of the organization.
The new beekeeping field is improving the town’s economy in a way. More than 28 percent of West Virginians live in dire poverty and free training is a good way for them to start a career as a beekeeper.
Modern agriculture has paved the way for the shrinking population of honey bees. Large stretches of tract, which used to provide the bees with pollen and nectar, now grow one crop variety. Woodlands are disappearing at an alarming rate and that robs the home of the honey bee once again. Organized beekeeping thus helps preserve honey bees and provides income for those who need it most.