The wounds of war come in many shapes and sizes, some seen and some unseen. PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is silent, invisible, but very real. So is TBI, or traumatic brain injury.
For over 100 years, since the end of World War I in 1918, beekeeping has been considered a good hobby for disabled veterans. It promotes ‘mindfulness’ and ‘being in the moment’ so it can help those suffering from PTSD and/or TBI.
Bees4Vets is a new program that was founded in 2018 by Ginger and Dan Fenwick. It is based in northwestern Nevada, and teaches the art of hands-on beekeeping to military veterans and first responders that have been diagnosed with PTSD and/or TBI. The program helps them to manage their PTSD symptoms.
Bees4Vets brings local community together, and combines education, outdoor activity and community outreach into a strong foundation where an environment of training and support presents an incredible opportunity for veterans and first responders to develop interest and skills so beekeeping can become a hobby or even an enjoyable vocation.
This is a unique learning opportunity, and the benefits of tending to a hive are transformational for those with PTSD and depression. If this speaks to you, Bees4Vets is inviting you to join them in the outdoor apiary so you can experience honeybees and hives.
Just like in a beehive, where it takes thousands of worker bees to keep things humming—or buzzing—along, Bees4Vets requires lots of people to get involved to make it all work.
There are many ways to get involved. Some ways are available to anyone who lives anywhere, and other ways would be for people local to NW Nevada or close by.
This 2:18-minute video by CNBC Television highlights Bees4Vets:
Maybe you know a veteran or first responder in the area who would benefit from the serenity of beekeeping. Or you may be a health professional or counsellor working with veterans or first responders who could benefit from being with the bees. If so, please let them know about this opportunity. If they are unsure, they can visit the apiaries first.
Veterans or first responders living in or near NW Nevada that have PTSD or TBI can ask to become a program participant by contacting Bees4Vets.
Maybe you know how to garden and can provide a pollinator-friendly garden. If so, consider joining the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.
Another option to help is to host a Bees4Vets presentation at your office, school, church, or social group located in NW Nevada. Just reach out to them!
The easiest way for people around the world to contribute is to donate or sponsor a hive or student. Bees4Vets always needs to pay for bees, beekeeping equipment, honey frames, hive boxes and so much more. They hold fundraisers at certain times of year, but there is always a donate button on their website.
There are many advantages to beekeeping. People with disabilities can choose equipment that best suits their ability to lift, move and work hives. Beekeeping is usually a solo occupation or done in a small group, and is rarely done in crowded, congested, or noisy places.
Bees keep you conscious and ‘in the moment.’ If you drift off, they remind you to come back. How? It may begin with a change in the sound of the hive, then some bees may ‘bump into’ the beekeeper and buzz around their heads. If that doesn’t work, they may try to sting.
There is a relaxing, serene quality to sitting and watching bees come and go, and listening to the sounds of the hive.
Financial benefits are possible, most likely from selling the honey you harvest and maybe raising bees to sell to the beekeeping community.
For those who want to make a full time living from bees, it can be done with tenacity and patience. The more hives and bees you take on, the more you can earn. And it is a relatively stress-free job that doesn't require constant hands-on interaction.
Covid-19 hurt Bees4Vets because it curtailed all sorts of events and festivals where they would have been able to get the word out about the program.
For those who would like to donate to Bees4Vets, you will be happy to know it is a 501.C.3 non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Nevada. The program’s 36 active hives at the apiary, representing over 2 million honeybees at this time, are in Washoe County, Nevada.
And if all you want is to spend a fine day watching honeybees buzzing in and out of their hives and making a beeline for the foraging grounds, Bees4Vets offers peaceful seating with lots of sunny possibilities at the apiary.
This is a highly worthy cause for those who feel moved to 'bee the change they want to see in the world.'