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Honeybees and Butterflies

The Center will be conducting research regarding honey bee production on reclaimed mine land habitat.

Honeybees are experiencing a significant population decline across the United States. The suspected causes range from pesticides to parasites. In Appalachia, there is very little large-scale agriculture, and accordingly there is relatively little use of agricultural pesticides. Over the past decade, research done at Eastern Kentucky University has indicated that southeastern Kentucky has the potential to be a major hub for honeybee restoration and honey production.

The hardwood forests of Appalachia that surround reclaimed mine sites contain a great number of flowering plants that honeybees pollinate. Similarly, after coal mine reclamation is completed, an abundance of flowering plants emerge on the renewed mine lands. These elements combine to create an ideal honeybee environment.

Research at The Center will focus on methods and means to take advantage of the favorable Appalachian conditions to make honeybees and honey production an agricultural success in the region.

Visitors will see beehives behind bear-proof fences at locations where plantings have been done to maximize the value of the habitat for honeybees. The Center will present educational sessions and host field trips to teach about honeybees and honey production. The Center will also conduct formal training programs, open to the public, for the establishment and maintenance of bee hives and honey production

The habitat work done for honeybees will also directly benefit butterflies. The Center will develop and maintain an expansive butterfly garden that will attract a diverse population of butterflies. Additionally, special targeted plantings will be done to attract Monarch butterflies and others that may be experiencing nationwide population declines.