Frequently Asked Questions
What is the philosophy of Coal Country Beeworks?
Economic diversity depends upon landscape diversity.
What is Coal Country Beeworks?
It is a university initiative that collaborates with coal companies to reclaim surface mine sites with pollinator forage and habitat. The goal: create a three-season bloom, in which diverse and Appalachian native flowers and/or trees are blooming spring, summer and fall.
The United States loses one in every three bee hives a year due to a variety of reasons, such as residential uses, pesticides, transportation needs, and deforestation. Kentucky loses 130 acres of forestland every day (Steve Bullard, UK Forestry 2008). So, working with coal companies to plant nectar-producing undercanopy such as sourwood and basswood offsets that loss and provides for more dietary diversity for honey bees in this time of crisis.
Why are honey bees important?
Honey bees are responsible for at least $15 billion dollars of agricultural fruits and vegetables, such as almonds, berries, cucumbers, apples, squash, etc. Honey bees are indirectly responsible for flowers such as alfalfas and clovers that our animal industry depends upon. Furthermore, honey bees evolved with flowers such as asters, purple coneflowers, sunflowers, and bee balm, which nourish our souls. When there is a pollination crisis, the costs of food rise as do the costs associated with long term health care and diets.
How did Coal Country Beeworks get started?
The Coal Country Beeworks project started in 2008 with a generous gift from Tennessee beekeepers Elaine and Edwin Holcombe. They donated salary and thirty mite-resistant bee hives to establish on surface mine sites. Allen Meyers, a local Kentucky queen producer, volunteers time, equipment and leadership.
Which coal companies partner with Coal Country Beeworks?
The sentinel company, International Coal Group, ICG-Hazard, offered to host sites followed quickly by James River Coal. Now Pine Branch Coal and TECO have planted over four hundred acres of trees or flowers specifically for pollinators. We are looking to expand to West Virginia and Indiana in the following years.
Who are the other partners?
Dr. Tammy Horn, author and beekeeper, is the primary coordinator, but the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative set a foundation by developing guidelines for high value hardwoods. Private foundations such as the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Honey Bee, the Steele-Reese Foundation and the EKU Office of Regional Stewardship have provided crucial financial support for workshops, salary, and equipment. Other key players: Dr. Alice Jones, director of the Eastern KY Environmental Research Institute, provides institutional oversight at EKU. Horticulture major Nan Campbell weighs hives for the NASA climate change project: honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov.