An organisation in the US’ Appalachian mountain range is helping displaced coal workers find a new career – beekeeping.
The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective, operated by Appalachian Headwaters, aims to help miners who have lost their jobs get involved in the region’s long-standing tradition of apiculture.
The programme originally began as an effort to ensure there were enough bees to restore and pollinate ecosystems damaged by mining but now looks to bring millions of dollars into the region, offer job options and provide supplemental incomes for hundreds of people.
It offers training to displaced coal miners and low-income residents of mining communities throughout the state, allowing the new beekeeper-entrepreneurs to maintain up to 20 honey bee hives for a profit – it has trained 35 people to date.
The group provides the materials needed to get started, such as hive boxes, as well as offering comprehensive education and support.
Products like honey and wax are processed and distributed around the country, with beekeepers potentially able to earn an estimated $732 (£566) in supplemental income per hive per season.
Curtis Jones, resident of Hinton, the town in which the non-profit is based, said: “They’ve helped me with everything I’ve asked. They come and check you out. Help you with the bees. Tell you what’s going on. Hands-on experience — that’s what people need.”