Education and Opportunity
The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective, a project of Appalachian Headwaters, is a nonprofit organization that trains, supports, and provides bees and equipment free of charge to partner beekeepers in economically distressed counties. We help our partners produce honey (and income) in the “greenest” possible way. Since 2016, we have helped more than a hundred partners get started in beekeeping for profit.
educate & support
Beekeeping can be a great way to earn a sustainable living in rural areas, but the start-up costs and learning curve can be steep. Our educational staff helps eliminate some of the risk for partners in our program. We support our members by teaching beekeeping skills in classrooms and through regular mentoring at their hives. We start with a five-week Beekeeping 101 class each winter, before any partner receives a hive. Each partner is assigned a staff mentor, who provides regular support and is on call for help. Mentors visit each partner at least five times over the course of the year. After the first year, each partner continues to build his or her skills, participating in advanced classes and workshops, working closely with an assigned staff mentor.
Our program also provides the materials necessary to overcome beekeeping's considerable start-up costs. We start each partner with 2-6 hives, depending on experience and ability. Each set up includes the full-sized bee colony, hive boxes, smoker, veil, and hive tool. We provide additional honey supers and queen bees as needed. We also work with partners to provide any necessary bear fencing.
Each year, we help our partners to grow their operations. Successful partners in the program continue to expand their apiaries. We teach partners to split off new colonies from their growing hives, and provide additional hives to members who have proven themselves to be diligent beekeepers. We also provide replacement hives to help with any losses. We teach partners to requeen each hive annually to ensure strong hives year after year. We even breed our own bees to ensure they are adapted to the local ecosystem. This work promotes disease resistance in the bees and eliminates the need to use synthetic chemicals and antibiotics.
MARKET & SELL
We extract, bottle, market, and distribute ABC honey on behalf of member beekeepers. We connect to consumers who would be otherwise inaccessible to small-scale rural beekeepers, helping members of the Collective earn a sustainable income from their hard work. We use the proceeds to pay partner beekeepers and continue our educational programs.
Teaching people how to keep bees helps them understand local ecosystems and increases their awareness of world-wide threats to pollinators such as climate change and deforestation. As ABC beekeepers learn about natural beekeeping, they become better environmental stewards.
Our program is also 100% solar powered. Our bottling and honey extraction facility and education center hosts 184 solar panels with an annual production of 66,677 kWh.
The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective is a project of Appalachian Headwaters, a nonprofit organization working to develop sustainable economic opportunities while restoring damaged ecosystems in central Appalachia.FIND OUT MORE