Beekeeping for Prisoners
Bees and bee products are healing for humans on so many levels.
A whole new wave of bee therapy is unfolding for prison inmates across the USA.
We recently posted about abused women working with bees as a business with therapeutic value.
Now we are looking at how bees help transform the lives of people living in confinement.
In both cases, it’s about hope, second chances and rehabilitation on a deep inner level.
Bees also benefit from these relationships because they face so many survival issues.
When people learn to love and respect bees, the bond between humans and bees strengthens, and we all benefit from a more meaningful future.
Charles Roark, an inmate at Airway Heights Correction Center in Spokane County, Washington, was traumatized by a bee sting when he was a boy and was afraid of bees until being reintroduced to them in prison. He is now obsessed with bees and thinks of them as his children.
Prison staff indicate that bees have had a positive effect on prisoners, giving them purpose and meaning.
The Sustainability in Prisons Project has a goal to expand their beekeeping programs to all 12 Washington state prisons, and eventually have them become community hubs.
The sweet sound of bees buzzing carries on the breeze at Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois.
Bees are the new addition to the Cook County Sheriff’s Urban Farming Initiative, which already has a 2-acre farm and a greenhouse.
The beekeeping program for non-violent inmates began with 2 nuc beehives provided by local beekeeper and founder of West Side Bee Boyz, Thad Smith.
Since May 2019, when Thad brought 2 bee nucs to the jail, he has been teaching inmates his bee secrets. Each nuc contained a Queen and 10,000 docile Italian honeybees.
A nuc is a miniature beehive and is a great way to start beekeeping. Thad plans to move the bees into larger hives later this summer.
As a former inmate himself, Thad understands how his students feel and think. This program provides hope, knowledge and an additional means to earn a living and enhance employment chances when they get out of prison.
One inmate who has suffered from anger all his life claims not only is he feeling more serene handling the bees, but he’s learning more about himself.
Prisoner beekeeping projects are cropping up all around the USA. If you are aware of any in your local area, wherever in the world you live, we'd love to know more. This is a powerful theme that benefits people, communities and our beloved bees.
Do you have a prisoner-bee story to share with us from anywhere in the world? If so, head over to Facebook and tell us all about it!