An ongoing Appalachian Headwaters project called Beekeeping Collective is creating an economic buzz in the region. Under it, those looking to make a little extra would keep bees and distribute their honey through urban markets. Appalachian Headwaters’ Vice President of Government Relations Terri Giles says 35 people will take care of the hives on 50 different properties throughout the region.
“It is sustainable jobs for a sustainable environment,” Giles said. “We help people through our experts and mentor them, work with them all through the summer, to raise bees naturally.”
When not working first aid and safety supplies, Kenny Brogan is taking one of those 35 roles as beekeeper.
“If it turns into a money thing for me… that’d be great,” Brogan said. “It’s always been an interest. They had the classes at no charge, you’d be crazy — if that’s an interest that you already have — to not go ahead and get started in it.”
Brogan and other beekeepers will be using land donated by generous family farm owners, like John Hendrick.
“When I heard about the program, I was fascinated by the good that was going to come out of it,” Hendrick said. “I’ve got a lot of land. I have a lot of crops, even a little orchard. I can feed those bees. But at the same time, I can benefit from having them on my property.”
The sweetest part is every drop of honey is produced naturally, meaning no pesticides or antibiotics.
“When you eat Appalachian Headwaters honey, you’re eating the best in the world,” Giles said. “It comes right from here in Central Appalachia.”
Honey will be sold by the pound from beekeepers to American Headwaters. Beekeepers are hoping to start distributing by next year, since it takes at least a few months for the hives to form.