Miners Becoming Beekeepers
As the Appalachian economy struggles with the loss of three-fifths of its coal mining jobs in the last three decades, a surprising option is emerging for some: beekeeping. The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective offers beekeeping training, including bees and equipment and ongoing mentoring, for displaced coal miners and low-income residents of mining towns; so far, about 35 people are participating. Landowners are donating property for the beehives, which will be maintained without pesticides or antibiotics. Honey from a single hive can bring in about $750 a season, or $15,000 per 20, and additional money can be made selling the beeswax for candles and lip balm. The beekeeping collective is part of Appalachian Headwaters, a nonprofit formed in 2016 with a $7.5 million lawsuit settlement from coal mine operator Alpha Natural Resources for violations of the Clean Water Act. The money has been used to fund environmental restoration projects and to develop sustainable economic opportunities in the coal mining communities of West Virginia.
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This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.