An Eastern Kentucky University expert believes Appalachian Kentucky is ripe for the growth of beekeeping. Tammy Horn is Director of Coal Country Beeworks. a project of the Environmental Research Institute at Eastern Kentucky University.
The apiculturist testified Wednesday before the state's House Committee on Agriculture and Small Business which passed a resolution urging state universities to pick up research on bee loss issues.
Horn says the diversity found in eastern Kentucky forests makes it well suited for beekeeping. “We’re far removed from industrial agriculture, so we can healthier populations of bees. They’re not exposed to unregulated pesticides. If they do get pathogens, they get them later than the rest of the United States because they are geographically removed,” said Horn. The apiculturist says bee loss continues to be a serious concern in Kentucky. Members of the committee passed a resolution urging state universities to pick up research on bee loss issues. Horn says beekeeping could supplement family incomes in Appalachia. “It’s relatively easy for beekeepers to supplement their incomes between you know say two and five thousand dollars, more difficult to get above that, but the opportunity is there and always has been,” said Horn. Horn says surface mine sites in eastern Kentucky are ideal for genetic bee breeding. Committee Chair Tom McKee would like to see some money put in an “idle” state bee fund. “Matching grants to help them where they’ve lost bees, to help them with their supplies, to help them with maybe purchasing other colonies of bees. So, I think there would be a lot of uses for it,” said McKee. In addition to beekeeping interests, McKee says bees play a critical role in advancing agriculture across the Commonwealth through pollination.