FAIRMONT, W.Va. -- What began as a hobby for Don Trisel, a professor of biology at Fairmont State University, and his wife Kim has become much more over the years.
About 10 years ago, the Trisels purchased a piece of land behind their home in Farmington.
"It was all forest," Trisel said. "We had some beekeeper friends at church, and I suggested that they come out and put some hives on our property and take advantage of that resource."
Instead, the Trisels' friends made another suggestion.
"They said, 'No, but we'll help you get started,'" Trisel said. "And the rest is history."
Nearly a decade since their beekeeping days began, the Trisels have been named the state Beekeepers of the Year and will officially receive their award at a banquet in April.
"It's definitely an honor," Trisel said.
Trisel has taken the opportunity to incorporate beekeeping into the courses he teaches at FSU.
"I teach plant science courses, so there's a pretty strong relation between the plants and bees and the pollination process," Trisel said.
Trisel said he will have classes come to his home and do things in the field that relate to the topics they have been discussing in class throughout the semester. Following the educational component of the home visit, Trisel said he and his students take some time to also enjoy fellowship.
In addition, Trisel encourages his students to do individual research projects related to the genetics and diseases of honeybees.
"A lot of biology majors have goals to become doctors, dentists, pharmacists and other health professions," Trisel said. "What is a seemingly very different field of beekeeping still requires the basic research methods and techniques that they can use."
One of Trisel's students, Jaime Ford, has even taken up beekeeping on her own and conducts research on two beehives on her property.
Trisel said being named the state Beekeepers of the Year has opened up avenues and teaching opportunities.