The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective (ABC), a project of the non-profit Appalachian Headwaters, has launched its sales website – ABCHoney.org – to sell the natural honey its beekeepers have harvested from their 850 hives. Since its creation in 2017, ABC has helped hundreds of people in distressed counties learn how to raise bees, harvest honey, and sell their products in an environmentally responsible way.
Terri J. Giles, a former U.S. Senate aide and foundation executive who returned home to West Virginia for this venture, has been involved from the ground up and seen the multiple benefits of this social-economic initiative. The ABCHoney.org website features a selection of natural honey in addition to products from partners Benko Glass, J.D. Dickinson Salt, Walter Hyleck pottery, and Rishi teas.
“When you shop with us, you support beekeepers, bees, and environmental programs that help restore ecosystems in Central Appalachia,” Giles said.
“Each hive we support can generate 40-60 pounds of honey for sale each year. All proceeds are invested back into the Appalachian Beekeeping Collective to expand our geographic reach, assisting more people, communities, and the environment.”
Giles indicated that Central Appalachia is an ideal location for natural beekeeping and honey produced from this region is distinct from other brands.
“The abundance of diverse forest and undeveloped land in our region helps keep our bees healthy,” she said. “Our native Appalachian forests host an abundance of nectar-rich species such as tulip poplar, black locust, sourwood, and wildflowers. Most agricultural land is devoted to livestock, meaning that much of the area is covered is excellent bee forage, like clover. We have minimal agricultural crops to contribute to the range of synthetic chemicals other bees often endure.”
“What started out as an initiative to reclaim abandoned coal mine lands, restore native plants, and protect pollinators has also grown into a thriving jobs program in West Virginia and Virginia that is producing natural honey that is free from pesticides and pollution,” said Giles, a native of nearby Hinton where the honey processing and a STEM education camp for youth is based.