Appalachian Beekeeping Collective
Headwaters will train displaced and underemployed Appalachians in beekeeping. Our Starter Hive Loan Program will help trainees overcome the economic barriers preventing would-be beekeepers from getting started. Our staff will support new beekeepers, helping them learn and implement best practices to improve their output. Headwaters will process, market, and distribute products like honey to high-demand markets otherwise inaccessible to small-scale beekeepers, helping to earn top dollar for our members.
The Beekeeping Collective has the potential to bring millions of dollars into the region, providing strong full time and supplemental incomes for hundreds of people throughout central Appalachia.
Beekeeping offers extraordinary job opportunities in a region with few short-term prospects for good jobs. A backyard beekeeper can make more than enough to rise above the poverty line. Barriers to getting started in beekeeping, like startup costs for hives and equipment, or lack of training and support, can prevent would-be beekeepers from realizing their potential. Headwaters will help our members surmount those barriers.
Central Appalachia has experienced economic stress for decades, felt particularly harshly in the fourteen southern West Virginia counties targeted for the Beekeeping Collective’s first phase. These counties have high poverty, high unemployment, and low labor force participation. The Appalachian Regional Commission has classify the entire state as economically distressed (see image below).
Over time, Headwaters intends to expand the Beekeeping Collective to similarly distressed counties in eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia beekeepers by establishing additional processing and bottling facilities.