Beekeeping Collective Launches Online Shop for Honey, Holiday Gifts

Beekeepers Colleen Fitts and Raine Nimmer tend to their beehives. (Photo: Business Wire)

LEWISBURG, W.Va.--()--The Appalachian Beekeeping Collective (ABC) has launched to sell the raw natural honey its more than 100 partner beekeepers have harvested from hundreds of hives in West Virginia and Virginia.

ABC is a project of Appalachian Headwaters, a nonprofit organization. ABC helps beekeepers in distressed Appalachian counties learn how to keep bees an environmentally responsible way. The beekeepers not only earn income from the project, but also learn about local ecology. The program trains, supports, and provides bees and equipment at no cost to partner beekeepers. ABC partners practice natural beekeeping, using no synthetic chemicals or antibiotics.

ABC then extracts, bottles, and markets the honey. ABC hopes to connect to consumers who otherwise would be inaccessible to small-scale rural beekeepers, helping ABC partners earn money from their hard work.

“Central Appalachia is an ideal location for natural beekeeping,” says ABC staff beekeeper Mark Lilly. “Our bees gather pollen and nectar from nearby forests and fields, not agricultural crops sprayed with pesticides.” The native Appalachian forests are full of nectar-rich species like tulip poplar, black locust, sourwood, and wildflowers. “That means our honey tastes exceptional,” says Lilly.

"I love having the ability to assist nature and maybe help improve some aspects of it through beekeeping," says Sylvester "Sky" Edwards, and ABC partner beekeeper in McDowell County. Edwards’ bees are part of his business, Creekside Farm, one of the first organic farms in the area, and McDowell County Farms, a co-op providing affordable local produce and working with organizations to educate youth about good health and alternative work. "I like the ongoing instruction, information, and hands-on experiences provided by ABC. The mentors are wonderful people to work with," he says.

The website features a selection of raw natural honey and gifts sets highlighting Appalachian artisan goods such as hand carved honey spoons by Greenbrier County native Eddie “Spoonman” Fletcher, and beautiful pottery from ceramicists like Walter Hyleck. Other gifts include Benko Glass, J.D. Dickinson Salt, and organic teas.

Right now, ABC is offering a 15% discount for first time buyers using the code ABCHONEY and free shipping on orders over $49.

This project was funded through generous grants from organizations including the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the One Foundation.

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Terri Giles (304-741-2632)

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Terri Giles (304-741-2632)