Settlers in Appalachia had several types of sweetnin’ – sugar from maple or
other trees, syrup from sorghum, etc., and honey from the bees brought
from Europe to America in the 1600s. Many mountain families first kept
bees in hollowed-out black gum trees and later in hives they constructed,
like those pictured here, kept by G.B. Barnett and Edd Bennett.
In 2015, the American Beekeepers Federation says, there was a 44%
decrease in honey bee populations, and another 8% was lost in 2016.
Factors responsible for the decline in bee populations include colony
collapse disorder, mites that prey upon honey bees, and the use of
The decline in bee populations is worrisome because honey bees
contribute to about one-third of the US food supply. One of the top
pollinators in the nation, honey bees are able to pollinate over three-
quarters of our flowering plants and crops.
Many mountain farmers are getting back into beekeeping in order to have
sufficient pollinations for their crops – and some delicious honey as well!