HERNSHAW, W.Va. – Up a trail marked “no blastin on Sundays,” bees patrol a mountain once partially broken apart for coal.
“Mining for honey” is its new extractive business, one with no impact on the Kanawha County land.
Controversial Appalachian surface mining often involves scraping off sides of mountains or blowing off peaks for coal.
What results works for beekeeping — large, flat areas companies must renovate, replant and reline with trees.
Since April, West Virginia has test-run seven boxes of bees on one former surface mine. The state hopes to expand and offer veterans and displaced miners training.
Kentucky started its surface mine beekeeping program in 2008. It includes 35 bee boxes at five sites and Eastern Kentucky University research.
Factors like habitat loss and pesticide use have reduced U.S. honeybee populations.